Functional wooden wagon wheels are authentic horse drawn buggy wheels. They are made to fit roller bearing axles. Bearings sold separately. Tires are flat steel. Choose from 38” or 42”.
How wagon wheels are made
The Amish Wheelwright starts with Hickory lumber that he gets from a local sawmill. That lumber that will eventually be your functional wooden wagon wheels. The hickory lumber is cut and resized into 2” x 2” boards. The length will depend on the size wheel that he will make. The functional wooden wagon wheels are usually 18” to 50”. The most common sizes in this area are 38” and 42”. The wood parts are now referred to as felloes. A felloe, pronounced fellow, is the wood that separates the steel tire from the wood spokes.
The wagon wheel felloe
The felloe is placed in a steam box for a short time to gain enough moisture to bend with ease and without cracking or splintering. It is placed into the felloe bender at which point the machine bends the prepared hickory into an elongated half circle. The bent felloes are then placed into a drying room heated by a wood burning stove and kept at a constant temperature. They will remain there until the moisture content is exact for the wheelwright to work with the felloes. This drying process usually take 1 to 2 weeks. Two dried felloes are removed and holes are drilled evenly spaced within the inside curve when they are dry.
Wooden wagon wheel Spokes
Spokes are made from the same hickory boards as the felloes are cut. The spokes start by cutting 1 1/2” x 1 1/2” x 24” long boards. Boards are dried before they are placed into a steel bladed shaper machine that turns, cuts, and shapes the spokes. The felloe side of each spoke is next pushed into a ten on cutting tool that cuts a round dowel looking tenon that slides into the drilled holes in the felloes. The opposite end of the wood wheel spoke is tenoned in a shape that fits the metal hub. Additionally, the hub fits 16 spokes then bolts together while holding the spokes tight and equally spaced. This is now referred to as a spider.
Functional wooden wagon wheels are completed
The spider remains in the holder to steady the spokes while the 2 felloes are placed around the outside. The felloes are cut to complete a round wood wheel. The tenons are then pushed into the felloe predrilled tenon holes. A 1” wide steel bar is cut to length and bent into a circle the size of the outside of the felloe. Cold steel is then welded into a circle. Tire steel is slightly smaller than the circumference of the wood felloe so, it is heated red hot in fire so the steel expands. The steel is then hammered onto the felloe and left to cool and shrink. This makes a tight solid wheel that is road ready. Flat steel tires are bolted. We now have a functional wood wagon wheel.
Rebuild your old wagon wheel
We can rebuild older boxing (sleeve) type wheels that do not take bearings. Email questions along with size details and special requests to firstname.lastname@example.org