Am working on a monster truck and wanted to share how I have created the wheels. I saw a similar approach to making the wheels on YouTube or Pinterest and thought I would give it a try. The results are pretty good but the method was very time consuming. The tread on the wheels is surprisingly strong, but I'm thinking about modifying the approach for the next one that I build. This approach could be used to create tires for tractors, loaders, etc.
I started off by creating 2 3/4" wheel blanks from 3/4" poplar, with a 3/8 hole in the center for a dowel-axle. I cut them out with the band saw and then put them on the lathe so I could "true" them up. There were 8 wheel blanks in all, since I wanted the wheels to be extra wide like they are on the monster trucks.
When I started making the wheels, I didn't have a drill chuck for the lathe, so I had to make an improvised jig.
After making them true, I put layout lines on the wheels to break them into eight equal parts. I set the layout lines up on a piece of scrap hardboard and drilled 1/8" holes for marking. I put a 3/8" hole in the center to help line up the wheel center when using the jig.
I marked each wheel blank using the jig and then used a center finder to layout lines as shown below.
The end result looks like this:
Next, I transferred each line onto the side of each wheel blank so I could use it as an index mark on the groove cutting jig that I created. The jig was created from scraps of 3/4" plywood, with the wheel set at a 45 degree angle. I created a left and right jig so I could cut the grooves on each side of the wheel. Since each wheel is created from two blanks, there is a left and a right blank.
The jig is designed to be used with a cross-cut sled on the table saw so that a 1/8" groove is cut in the wheel. I lined up the index marks on the side of the wheel with the index mark on the jig. Once the first cut was made, I rotated the wheel to the next index mark and cut again. I repeated this process until all cuts were completed.
After cutting each blank, the wheel comes together as shown below:
Next, I went back to the lathe to create the hubs for the wheels. I created identical hubs on the left and right side of each wheel.
I glued and clamped the left and right side of each wheel together and let them dry. I used a piece of 3/8" dowel to align the centers of each side of the wheel. Once the clamps were in place, I removed the dowel.
Next, I cut 1/8" pine strips to go into the grooves in each wheel. The strips were cut with a 45 degree angle on one end and were a little long so I could sand them flush with the wheel once done.
The strips were glued in and after the glue dried, I went back to the lathe to sand them down to the final shape and dimension. I used a caliper to make sure the finished wheels were the same diameter.
The picture above is what I ended up with. A lot of time to create them, but I think they turned out pretty good for the first try. I wouldn't create these wheels for toys that are intended for larger production runs, but I think they'll be nice for a model or toy intended for an older child.
When I make the next set, I'm going to increase the diameter of the wheel blanks and use the jigs to cut grooves that will result in raised tread similar to the end product here. If it works out, then the wheels would be less time consuming to make and probably more durable.