Introduction: Build a Wooden Car From Old Pallets!
This is a fun project that is not overly time consuming. I am presenting this instructable to hopefully serve as a creative spark for others to build comparable projects.
What you'll need:
- A pallet, preferably oak or another hardwood
- A band saw or scroll saw
- A table saw
- A miter saw or radial arm saw
- A drill press
- A few drill bits including a 1" hole saw bit
- Wood glue
- 6" of 1/4" dowel
- Four 3/4" drywall screws
- A few brad nails
You can always make cuts just on the band saw if you lack some of the other power tools.
Step 1: Acquire Pallets
The first step is to get your hands on some pallets. Ideally, you have a hardware store near you that will happily give you pallets that would otherwise end up in the garbage. I went to the local Lowe's home improvement store, requested a few pallets, and they happily parted with a handful. The key here is to ask.
One thing to keep in mind here: your safety. Some pallets are treated with chemicals or have been exposed to chemical spills making their sawdust unsafe to breathe. Look for heat-treated pallets to minimize risk to yourself.
Step 2: Select Your Board
I chose a single plank from an oak pallet to build my model with. The plank was approximately four inches wide and one-half inch thick.
Step 3: The Template
At the end of this step, you will find a PDF document that contains templates to follow the same design I used. All you will need to do is print off the template and use a band saw/table saw to cut out the respective components. Just keep in mind the thickness of the material I used was one-half inch. The template will only remain accurate with that thickness of material.
Step 4: Cut Out the Side View
Here, trace the template side view on a point of the plank that does not contain any nail holes. If you cannot prevent nail holes, make sure they're in a spot easy to cover up with wood putty. Use the band saw to cut out two of the side view pieces that will form the shape of the car's body.
Step 5: Cut Out the Car's Body
In this step, you will cut out the car's body. You first want to cut two strips that measure 6-3/8" x 1-1/2". Next designate which piece belongs on the bottom of the car's body and which is in the middle. Stack the middle piece on the bottom piece and determine if there is any warping between the two boards.
If there is warping you will want to glue and clamp the two boards together, one on top of the other. From the bottom of the bottom board, drill two holes with a recess bit right where you expect the car's front and rear axle to be placed (four holes total). Screw together the boards with 3/4" drywall screws.
After sufficient time elapses, remove the clamps from your boards that are now glued together. Place the car's side view board right next to the two boards you just glued together (or didn't because they were not warped). After the pieces are aligned the way you want, trace the curvature of the car's rear against your glued (or not glued) boards. Leave the front of the car untraced. Cut your trace with your band saw and sand the boards so they align with the car's body. Lightly round the car's hood with sandpaper.
Step 6: Cut Out and Align the "Roof"
Cut a strip of wood that is 2-3/4" x 1-1/2". Trace an angle on whichever edge of the board you'd like to be the "windshield" that matches the incline of the side view's windshield area. Cut this trace on your band saw. Now place the board such that it is inset from the side view's windshield like in the second image above. Trace the rear of the board so it matches the incline of rear windshield and cut this out on the band saw.
Once complete and sanded, place this board in the final position and drill two holes with a recess bit, this time recessing far enough to seal the heads of the drywall screws beneath wood putty. Secure the board in place with wood glue and screws, and fill the heads with putty, as well as other seams that may be on the front and rear of the three-board block. Sand off excess putty when it has dried.
Step 7: Cutting Out the Wheels
Now it is time to cut out the four wheels that will be used. By the template, these wheels will be 1" diameter with the axle being a 1/4" hole. I used a hole saw bit on a drill press to drill out the wheels. Drill the last bit of the wheel slowly to avoid splintering such as what you see in the second picture. These splinters can be cleaned up with the band saw and by sanding.
Step 8: Cut Out & Mount the Axle Holders
The final pieces to the puzzle are the components that will secure the axle to the body of the car. To make these, I cut a 1-1/2" wide strip of wood and drilled two 5/16" holes, large enough to allow a little wiggle of the axle. These holes were centered in the end of the wood.
One-half inch thick axle holders is too this to allow clearance for the wheels to turn, so the next step is to shave roughly 1/8" off the board. To do this, I ripped the board as you see in the second picture in such a way as to expose the length of the drilled hole as seen in the fourth picture above. Be careful as the table saw blade must be protruded a fair distance from the table.
Once trimmed, use a miter saw or radial arm saw to cut the to axle holders into their 1" width. Now drill four holes in each holder that will fit small nails as seen in picture six above. These axle holders will be placed so that the hole is directly above the drywall screws you left exposed in step five.
The nail holes must therefore be positioned so the nails do not strike the heads of the drywall screws below. Proceed with gluing and nailing the axle holders in place. Make sure they are placed in the correct spot with regards to your side view! Mine slipped slightly making the wheels look off, although they still spin just fine.
Step 9: Mount the Sides and Wheels
Now position your side views on either side of the body. Find good positions for nails to be mounted (I found six positions) and screw small holes in the side view pieces for the small nails. Apply glue to the pieces and nail down the sides.
As an aesthetic point, try to mirror your nail positions from one side to the other. You can do this by lining up the side view pieces after you drilled holes in one, clamp the pieces together, and gently drill with the same bit into the second side view piece.
Once the sides are mounted, turn your attention to the wheels. Cut two 1/4" dowel segments that are each a touch longer than 2-1/2" long. Glue one wheel to each dowel, and optionally apply a finishing wax to each axle so as to lubricate the spinning of the wheels.
Pass the lubricated axle through the axle holders and glue the second wheel in place for each axle, giving the glue time to dry.
Step 10: Final Product
After touching up your car with some fine sandpaper, you're done! If you want, you can stain the car, but if you want to do so, I would do it before gluing the wheels on so you get an even & easy application of stain. You can even apply one or two layers of polyurethane to give it a glossy feel!
I hope this instructable inspires some awesome wooden creations!
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