Building the wheel

I figured I would start with the wheel because its diameter will dictate the size of the frame to hold it.

I picked up 3 10-foot long 2x12s (Southern Yellow Pine) and sawed them up into 30″ long sections. I gave them a week to adjust to my garage’s climate. I hope this is enough…! The plan is to make a 3-layer wheel, each ply being 3 boards wide.

Each piece was weighed individually. As they are the same size at this point, so the weight is an indication of their density (or moisture content…). They ranged from 11.5 to 14 pounds. The boards were then arranged so that the weight is distributed as evenly as possible for each layer, and also across the thickness of the wheel.

The jointer plane was used to prepare the edges for lamination and each layer was glued individually. A mistake I made with the central layer was to try to glue the three pieces together at the same time. I ended up with a heavily cupped board because the end piece made a slight angle to the other two. I ended up having to saw the piece off and re-glue it back on. I’d like to blame this on the clamping, but I’m sure my planing is also at fault. Only two pieces at a time were glued from then onwards. No rush.

Once glued, a circle was drawn on each layer using trammel points and then cut with a jigsaw (I do not have a band saw). Each layer was then planed flat and to constant thickness using a No. 5 and a No. 8 hand plane.


Each outer layer was glued to the middle layer with the lamina offset by 60 degrees clockwise and anti-clockwise respectively.

treadle lathe wheel glueup

The wheel ended up being 30 inches in diameter and 4 inches thick. It weighs 63 pounds. I hope the steel rod can cope with this weight in the cantilever design! The wheel will reduce in diameter slightly when it is trued (once it is mounted).

Now to build a frame for the wheel…

[***See the completed treadle lathe in this video, and read the entire build series through this link***]

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5 thoughts on “Building the wheel

  1. Hi,
    Thanks for doing this blog, great info! How did you decide on the diameter of the wheel? Any advantage over a smaller (maybe 24″) size?
    Thanks, Tim

    • Hi Tim. Thanks for the comment. So I chose a larger wheel for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the ratio of the wheel to the pulley dictates the rpm of the lathe. A larger wheel means faster turning. It also means more mass so that once you get it spinning, it take less effort to keep it moving than with a smaller wheel.

      When I moved house and to a smaller garage I found the disadvantage of the large wheel – it takes up more space in the shop! Luckily it fits, but only because we have a fiat 500. And if you want to transport the lathe around, a small wheel helps with that, too.

      So over all I would say make a wheel as large as you possibly can. But a small wheel will get the job done.

      I hope this helps!

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