Making wheels...

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When we got back from lunch today, my son said "we're going out to the shop right now, so I can finish my train! Come on!"
Well, I'd say I've gotten the boy hooked. :) :) :)
He likes wooden train stuff. He has sort of out-grown playing with it as much as he used to, but now it's taking on a whole new dimension because he can make rolling stock (with a little help from Dad...)
We've done some cool stuff, but our wheels suck. They're made from plywood cut with a Sears flycutter, and they're rather rough and clunky. The flycutter is no special joy to use either, and I sure would like to come up with a better way.
I've thought about using hole saws, but my experience is that they make pretty rough, ugly cuts too, and it's difficult to get the cut-off material back out of them without mangling it.
I can envision a few different ways to cut these on a table saw, bandsaw, or maybe a scroll saw if I had one. I could maybe even rig something up with a jigsaw held in a vise, but anything I'm picturing would be far more suitable for doing much larger discs. With pieces this small, it would be difficult to control the work and keep fingers safely away.
Maybe try some drill press turnings? I've been doing those for the smokestacks, sand humps and whatnot. Actually, that has given me quite a taste for turning, and I see a lathe in my future. How could I turn a weel though? Seems difficult, though I've seen plenty of fancy wooden wheels that must have been turned.
Hmmm.... Maybe I could buy dowels, and then slice them up. That might be a plan. Or turn square stock into dowels and slice them up. I've seen ideas for several ways to do that consistently.
Any other ideas? Surely somebody out there is a wooden toy maker.
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Silvan wrote:

I have the same flycutter and use it constantly. Hone the spur at the least sign of dullness and it'll cut glass smooth. A bit of paraffin also helps.
Always wondered if the slugs could be used for electric guitar knobs.
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Dr. Rev. Chuck, M.D. P.A. wrote:

Hmmm... OK, fair enough. I don't think I've ever sharpened it.
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Ok, I've been wanting to build a toy truck for my daughter for some time now and wanted to make the wheels myself. With all this talk of making wheels, I thought I would give it a shot last night.
I have a lathe, but didn't have the stock, so off to the drill press I went. I wanted a wheel 2-2.5" but the only hole saw I have is 4", so I got out the fly cutter. Now I am using some scrap poplar so it shouldn't be real hard to cut. 1st wheel took about 10 minutes with some burning if I held pressure too long. I took off the spur and brought it over to my scary sharp station and gave it a little hone (about 5 minutes worth). Off to create wheel #2. Not much better. I took the spur off again and this time honed the bottom (flat) and the bevel AND flattened the side that does the cutting, figuring that a sharp edge between the two sides would help. Still not much improvement. I ended up makeing 4 wheels (of the 10 that I need) and it took me over 1 hour.
Am I sharpening this thing wrong? I have the press on it's slowest setting. By looking at the way the fly cutter is designed I realized that it probably shouldn't be expected to "burn" through wood, but should it literally "BURN " through wood?
-Chris
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Chris wrote:

Hone it again. 600 grit diamond paddle works fastest on HSS.
Realize that the tool is prone to overheating if you bear down. Lower it into the workpiece and hold for 5-10 seconds. Raise, then lower again. Take about 1/16" per bite, and clear chips.
Is the burning happening on the sides of the kerf, or the bottom? You might need to grind a few thou of relief on the sides of the cutter to prevent binding.
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Chris wrote:

Dunno, I'm still in the reading about it instead of doing it stage of sharpening. I've never really managed to sharpen anything particularly well, and I wouldn't presume to tell you the correct way to sharpen this cutter thingie.
I can say that mine is probably incredibly dull, and it does indeed take for blasted ever to cut through anything, but it only burns if I try to force it. It's not too bad cutting through 1/8" thick plywood, but I wouldn't want to cut through 1" maple with the thing. It would take all night to do one cut.
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Chris wrote:

What kind of fly cutter do you have?
Mine has a simple thing like this:
|| || |/
It can also go in like this:
|| || \|
Which way depends on whether I want to cut something that looks like this:
|||\ ||||| /|||
or this:
|||| /|||\ ||||
It seems to make no difference in speed. It's just a question of which piece is the waste.
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Chris wrote:

OK, I wasn't very clear.
/| || || || \|
Change orientations by inverting it, not turning it around.
I think. Actually, I'd have to look at it to be sure, but I'm 90% positive that it can be used as I described without ever running it "backwards" through the wood.
BTW, the dowel idea is a wash. I built a jig to slice them and a jig to drill holes into the precise center of them, and they came out OK, but were just too brittle.
Pre-fab wheels that are available locally are too big to fit the slots in the track, and look stupid besides, so that's a wash too.
Nobody sells hole saws the correct size for the small wheels, so that didn't pan out either.
I might get a 1" hole saw and settle on having stuff that only has one size of wheel, but for now it's looking like I'm back to the fly cutter, after I pick up some more thin birch plywood. The stuff at Lowe's is three-layer crap with veneer layers that are only three microns thick, so I guess I'm stuck paying astronomical prices for tiny sheets of the stuff at Michael's, and throwing away half of it to sawdust, or else trying to resaw some of the 3/4" thick salvage scrap stuff I have on my table saw and filling the room with burnt sawdust smoke again.
No matter how you slice it, making functional toy wheels to run on these things is a bit of a PITA. For the time being, I've taken to knocking apart his stock toy trains and stealing the plastic wheels and nifty two-part axles. That way we get to play with the new stuff NOW, which is never quite soon enough for a nine year old.
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Michael,
I got a whole lotta 1/2" Baltic Birch scraps I could send you for your wheel stock. Email me your address and I'll throw some in a box and drop 'em off at UPS. Couldn't cost more than a few bucks to send them from NJ to VA.
-Chris
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Silvan wrote:

I made wheels for my sons' toys by the drill press method. I drilled a pilot hole in the centre and used a couple of inches of threaded rod, nuts and washers to make an arbor for the drill chuck,
I then clamped the drillpress on its back (it was a small one) , with a piece of wood clamped to the bed as a toolrest.
Worked really (wheely ?) well.
Steve
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If you just have to make them, turning might be the way, perhaps with a "ring tool". The few I have needed, I have just bought. Crafts stores carry them and here is a Rockler link. It is a long link so watch for line wrapping.
http://www.rockler.com/ecom7/showdetl.cfm?offerings_id 38&objectgroup_id=2&catidt&DID=6
Silvan wrote:

--
---

BRuce


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Sun, Sep 7, 2003, 1:21am snipped-for-privacy@users.sourceforge.net (Silvan) says: <snip> I've thought about using hole saws, but my experience is thatthey make pretty rough, ugly cuts too, and it's difficult to get the cut-off material back out of them without mangling it. <snip>
Hmm, I use a hole saw. Usually flip the plywood when about half thru, and finish that way. Slide a screwdriver in the slot, and slide it out. I start sorta slow, don't know if that makes a difference or not. Works great, only takes a few sandpaper swipes to smooth them.
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Jack-of-all-trades - JOAT wrote:

Maybe I should try a hole saw that hasn't been used to cut through a couple of metal doors... Or else see if I can figure out how to sharpen this one. It may be that it's just dull.
I also need to figure out how to lay out the holes for the axles so that two wheels of differing diameters both contact the ground. I spent a couple hours out there today, and never managed to get one right. Time to drag out some *math* I guess, before I use up this whole box of Jummywood scraps.
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Sun, Sep 7, 2003, 4:33pm snipped-for-privacy@users.sourceforge.net (Silvan) claims: Maybe I should try a hole saw that hasn't been used to cut through a couple of metal doors.. <snip>
Uh, yeah, that might be a good idea. Probably excellent, in fact.
I also need to figure out how to lay out the holes for the axles so that two wheels of differing diameters both contact the ground. I spent a couple hours out there today, and never managed to get one right. Time to drag out some *math* I guess, before I use up this whole box of Jummywood scraps.
If were going to complicate things, by using maths, I would. measure from the bottom of a wheel hole to the bottom of the wheel. Then add half the width of the hole. Same for each different size wheel.
Me, I don't mess with dangerous stuff like maths. I would just hold a wheel in place, put a pencil thru the hole, and mark the spot to drill. Or, you could just run the right size drill thru, and twist it a bit, to mark the spot.
You could do it with a decent compass (I found an excellent one at an office supply store, for about $1), but they have sharp points, and I won't recommend dangerous tool use to anyone on this group.
JOAT Failure is not an option. But it is definitely a possibility.
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Jack-of-all-trades - JOAT wrote:

I finally got that to work (with a compass), but it proved difficult because it had to be *perfect* and I experienced quite a bit of difficulty avoiding 1/32" errors.
I probably could have evened things up sufficiently on my belt sander for that matter, but my belt sander has been out of comission for awhile now, and I don't have the patience to remove that much wood by hand sanding.
I'm close to building a hand crank for the stupid thing. That'd solve the problem. Maybe I could rig up a tredle and foot power it.
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Sun, Sep 7, 2003, 4:33pm snipped-for-privacy@users.sourceforge.net (Silvan) says: <snip> Maybe I should try <snip> Been awhile since I made any, so made 4 tonight, to double-check. I was gonna make 'em tomorrow, for my saw stand mod, anyway.
Well, 3 came out great, just sand around the edge, and they would make great wheels. The 4th, when I flipped the wood, I missed the pilot hole at first, and kinda goofed one side up. Even then, it would be acceptible, bad side in.
The only thing I can think of is, you haven't been sending any sacrifices along to the Woodworking Gods. Probably trying to cheap out, and do it on your own. You should know, when that happens, they pick on you. As their High Priest, I'm on their side.
JOAT Failure is not an option. But it is definitely a possibility.
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Jack-of-all-trades - JOAT wrote:

No, I haven't been. The last time I sacrificed anything to the gods, my crops withered and were absolutely miserable, so I decided I'm better off making my own luck.
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Wed, Sep 10, 2003, 10:24am snipped-for-privacy@users.sourceforge.net (Silvan) says: No, I haven't been. The last time I sacrificed anything to the gods, my crops withered and were absolutely miserable, so I decided I'm better off making my own luck.
Yup, yup, figgered it was something along those lines. Always happens that way, not goin' thru channels, tryin' to sacrifice on your own. It's people like you give heathans a bad name.
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This is a golden opportunity for turning enthusiasts like me. I have ten grandchildren (although two are rather recent and not ready yet) and therefore have much wheel experience. Not only is it easy to make wheels on a lathe, they can be fancied up with flutes, grooves etc, even with a rim like real railroad trains use. The center hole for the axle is no problem. Cut it on a drill press using the center notch from the lathe spur hole as your guide. If you don't have dowels that size, turn them!
Bob Moody
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Bob Moody wrote:

First I have to set about building that lathe... :)
I kind of wish I hadn't sold my old drill press. Sure, using it as a lathe would have killed the bearings eventually, but I wouldn't mind killing the bearings on my _old_ drill press. I've already done a few dozen turnings with my new one, and while it seems quite up to the challenge, I'm starting to develop a guilty conscience.
I think it's time for that shop-built lathe. How powerful are lathe motors usually? I have a treadmill that used to be a shop-built belt sander. I've been saving it to make a lathe eventually. Think it will be strong enough? I figure it's powerful enough to move a fat person, but I really have no idea.
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