In a previous article, I showcased a reproduction antique warehouse cart. I built the cart for my wife to use as a coffee table…
The project has been very popular, and I get a lot of email from people who want to build their own. The biggest problem people are having is finding suitable wheels. Look around at flea markets, antique stores, and garage sales for inexpensive wheels on other things that can be re-purposed. Some creative paint work can go a long way toward making a great looking wheel. I built my wheels from scratch, but a lot of people do not have the skills or equipment.
I designed a method that anyone can use to build their own warehouse cart wheels. Simple tools are used, and I had my wife make the prototype to proof the concept. The materials needed are shown in the picture.
1 1/4″ x 1/8″ thick x 48″ Steel Strap
1/2″ Bronze Flange Bearing (available at most hardware stores)
In this picture, my wife is doing the layout work. She chose a 15″ diameter wheel, and is deciding the hole size to form the spokes. Triangle, oval, and other designs may also be used.
She is using a jigsaw to cut out the outer wheel diameter. A hand coping saw could also be used.
In this picture, she is using a 3/4″ spade drill to make the center hole. Scrap wood is used under the drilling operation. This is so the wood does not tear on the bottom as the drill bit exits. The 1/2″ bronze flange bearing will be glued in this hole with epoxy.
She used a holesaw to cut holes to form the spokes. You do not need expensive bi-metal holesaws. A cheap set from Harbor Freight will work for cutting holes in wood. The holes can also be cut with a jigsaw or a coping saw.
At 5/32″ hole was drilled in the center of the steel strap, 1/2″ from the end. Additional holes were drilled every 3 inches. A countersink bit, shown on the left was used on all the holes. This was to allow the #6 x 5/8″ screws to sit flush with the outer rim. A 3/32″ pilot hole was used before sinking the screws. The plywood center will split if a pilot hole is not used.
The end of the strap was attached to the wheel center with a screw. The steel was bent around the center by hand and screws were driven as the bend progressed. The steel must be held tight to the center with the first bend. Otherwise, the bending force will pull out the first screw. This will not be an issue after the first couple of screws are set.
This detail view shows the screws holding the rim to the wooden center. She used an air grinder to grind the screw heads flush with the rim. A Dremel tool or a file could also be used. The screw heads were then filled in with autobody spot putty.
To finish the wheel, she painted it with flat black paint. Then she sprayed it with Rust-oleum multicolor textured paint in autumn brown. This wheel was a prototype. Additional time could have been spent filling and sanding the center so that you would not know it was made of wood.