You are not reaching your current productivity potential. Numerous esteemed experts agree that standing is better than sitting and that walking is better than standing. Despite this, your workplace only provides inhumane chairs and stagnant standing desks for you to use while you struggle to get through a workday full of distractions and bodily pains.

Rise up, sedentary sentients, and unleash that untapped potential within by marching endlessly towards a brilliant future of focused work. Step forward into a world of infinite potential, bounded only by the smooth arcs of a wheel. Step forward into the Hamster Wheel Standing Desk that will usher in a new era of unprecedented productivity.

This project is a collaboration at Pier 9 between Artist-in-Residence RobbGodshaw and Instructables Developer Will Doenlen. Thanks to Vanessa Sigurdson, Gabe Patin, Oliver Kreitman, and Bilal Ghalib for helping out in the wee hours of the morning!

Step 1: Design your wheel

Things that are made to fit people are subject to lots of careful consideration. Ergonomics and safety are very important to any furniture project.

We considered adding in brakes but decided against it in order to really force the productivity out of the desk user. In the end, we decided on a wheel 80" in diameter that would be supported by a 24" wide base that contained a set of four skateboard wheels on which the wheel would rest. This design allows fluid rotation without requiring an axle for the wheel.

We already had a standing desk that fit through the wheel, so it was just a matter of avoiding interference and leaving enough room for a human.

The wheel was designed using Autodesk Inventor over the course of a few hours. This allowed for a parametric design, where the diameter, width, and number of slats could be changed easily. We imported a human model from GrabCad to check clearances, and measured every door at Pier 9 to ensure it could leave the building.

See attached files. This project was completed with 24 hours, and the files are somewhat lazy.

This project requires 4 sheets of ¾" Plywood, 4 skate wheels, 2 pipes, 240 wood screws, a pint of glue, and a good attitude.

Step 2: Cut the wood: waterjet

This project could certainly be completed with ordinary power tools and craftsmanship. The arc pieces are the hardest to make, as their precision is key to smooth operation of the wheel. A carefully measured string used as a compass could be used to draw the arcs on a piece of plywood, which could be cut with a jigsaw. A hand router with a template and a trim-bit would make duplication fairly straight forward. We both work at Instructables HQ at Autodesk's Pier 9, and have access to a large OMAX waterjet cutter. A computer controlled machine that uses a high pressure waterjet to cut through any material, so long as it is less than 6" thick. Wood, any metal, glass, stone, any shape, any material. You might think it crazy to cut wood with water, but it saved us many hours of jig-making and saved a lot of wood because we could nest the parts within 1/8" of each other. Plus, the precision made for smooth rolling and perfect registration of the stacked pieces upon assembly.

We cut the arcs from four sheets of plywood. We filled whatever unused space we had with slats to be used for steps on the hamster wheel but cut most of the rectangular slats by table saw.

Step 3: Cut the wood: by hand

We used a table saw and chop saw to cut out the remaining slats of wood used to span the two rings of the wheel. There are sixty something slats in total. We used plywood because we had it on hand. 1"x6" pine would work great and look better, but cost more.

We cut the curved stand pieces with a jigsaw following a stencil we printed in sections. (Not pictured) Acrobat Reader can print the attached pdf as tiled pages. The precision is only important for the hole spacing and the distance from the axel to the ground. The slight arc on the base prevents rocking on slightly uneven terrain.

Step 4: Lay out the rings

The wheel consists of two wheel rings with some 60-odd plywood slats between the rims. Each ring consists of two sets of circular plywood layers, but since the plywood wasn't big enough to cut out an entire layer at once we divided the layers into thirds and then laid out each layer as shown. So, the hierarchy goes a little like this:

One wheel = 2 rings

One ring = 2 layers

One layer = 3 arcs, each ⅓ of a ring layer. (120° each)

Each arc had 4 radially spaced ¼" holes to aid in line-up and fastening of the layers.

Step 5: Glue up the rings

We then glued the layers of each ring together, staggering the two layers by 60° to maximize overlap and stability. Wood glue, when properly applied, can be stronger than wood itself. Initial clamping was done with ¼"-20 cap screws and T-nuts, followed by about 20 clamps. Glue was wiggled out liberally, spread with a piece of paper, then clamped to kingdom come. A sign of a good glue-up is squeeze-out, a small amount of glue emerging along the glue seam indicating complete dispersion of glue.

Step 6: Build the base

The base consists of two large, hot-dog shaped pieces of wood, each of which hold two skateboard wheels.

The two plates are held together with tie-rods and steel pipes. 5/16" threaded rods inside the pipe pull the plywood sides together, while the pipes themselves keep them apart. The diameter of the pipe prevents skewing, and allows the base to be stable and svelte. The length of the pipe is key, and had to be changed a few times. Too short and the wheel won't spin, and to long and it wiggles too much. A very shallow and large hole the diameter of the pipe must be drilled in the wood to keep the rod near the center of the pipe. If the rod shifts, the plates will skew. There is no good reason why we didn't just use a 4"x4" piece of lumber and some wood screws, or any other easier method.

The skateboard wheels were attached to the base using 5/16 cap screws with two fender washers and two locknuts. As shown in the image, the first locknut should be super-tight, and the second a bit loose to avoid damage to the skate wheel. We tried placing a Delrin(plastic) disk in between each skateboard wheel and the wooden base to reduce friction between wooden rings and the wooden base, but ended up removing them to no effect.

Step 7: Test the base

Once the base was assembled, we tested out the action of the rings on the base to ensure they spun freely and didn't hit the pipes or catch on jagged edges. Resist the urge to use the ring as a Cyr Wheel, it will not end well.

Step 8: Attach the slats to the rings

Satisfied that the rings could spin on the base, we then screwed the slats onto the rings of the wheel. This part was tricky -- we had to redo it several times since we found the distance between the two rings of the wheel would creep upwards or downwards as we attached more and more slats. The solution was to screw in a couple of pioneer slats at strategic 90° intervals along the rings in order to maintain a fixed distance between the rings as we attached the slats.

In addition to being tricky, this part was also time, labor, and material intensive -- it took five of us working together several hours. We went through ~250 screws total, or about every screw we could find in the wood shop.

Step 9: Secondary use as wheel of death or bench

Having a human sized cylinder turns out to be versatile. Without the base, the wheel is a dangerous dizzying alternative to a Segway. See above, partially traversing the San Francisco Bay Trail on this novel contraption.

It also makes for a uncomfortable bench for sitting around discarded giant wooden telephone wire spools.

Step 10: Reflections


The Wheel was featured on a few blogs and publications. Including FastCompany, The Daily Mail, Huffington Post, Cnet, and the home page of Yahoo!.

San Francisco Magazine wrote a very thorough 5-page article about the wheel, Seen above in print.

It was the Answer to a limerick on NPR's "Wait wait... Don't tell me"

The wheel and I were featured on The Queen Latifah Show in October.

And also featured on the daytime talk show "The Doctors".

<p>Thank you Robb so much for uploading the .dxf files! It saved me money with the laser cutter guys down the road. I finished the wheel and the base last sunday, wife and I are going to paint it this weekend. Thanks again for all your hard work and sharing everything.</p>
<p>Hi Will, Do you have the DXF file for the Bearing Stand Plate?</p><p>I see the PDF above but I want to cut it on a CNC and I need the DXF file.</p><p>I did find the DXF nested sheet of rectangles and rings so that will help but I need the side parts. Thanks!!!</p>
<p>Hi PT! I don't have the DXF's anymore, only a modified DWG of the Bearing Stand Plate that has more slats added in for the wheel that would fit onto a standard 4'x8' sheet of plywood. I see Robb got you the original, would you still like my modified DWG?</p>
<p>Thanks for making the wheel Will!</p><p>It is always very exciting to see it have new life. I love the look of that ply. The grain has a very nice contrast. I hope the wheel provides you with years of an active lifestyle. You've certainly earned it!</p>
<p>Final update; did a lot of tweaking and adjusting. The wheel no longer rubs against the base and my dog is having a blast on it.</p><p> <iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="281" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/_cZROk-Y-xc" width="500"></iframe></p>
<p>I built this wheel for my final major project at university. Furthermore, I connected it to a small bicycle wheel, which with a dynamo generates energy to charge a phone. Furthermore, I connected the wheel to an app which shows in real time energy produced and calories burned. Once finished the performance users insert their name and they are placed in a leaderboard. This project is currently exhibited at London College of Communication and many people are running on it in these days, it&rsquo;s actually also a bit dangerous :P</p><p>Thank you very much for sharing all the instructions to build this! </p>
Hi<br><br>How much power you generate with your hamster wheel? Is there a generator assembled?
<p>Nice do you feel weird in a hamster wheel though?</p>
<p>Definitely, especially the first time you try it, it seems like everything is falling down.</p>
<p>Nice project. For the falling down problem, you could add some kind of curved &quot;screen&quot; up until above your head to hide the motion. Maybe two metal rods connected to the desk. You simply slide a piece of fabric easily sowed together.</p><p>Is it noisy ?</p>
<p>Definitely, especially the first time you try it, it seems like everything is falling down.</p>
<p>I think it appropriate for users to wear a &quot;hamster onesie&quot; . A teddy-bear onesie will due if by sewing you modify the tail, and add cheek-pouches. </p>
<p>Ahah yes, that's a great idea, stuffing it with pillows or something soft it could even solve the safety problem.</p>
<p>I'm sure you got an amazing grade! Have you seen the animated show Phineas and Ferb? You top even the best of their inventions. I'm so very impressed. Praise, praise, praise (instead of &quot;Blathers Noah Blathers&quot;). Please continue to make your wonderful inventions.</p>
<p>Yes, I got the maximum :)<br>No I haven't seen that show, but thank you very much for the compliment, very much appreciated.</p>
<p>Wow!</p><p>That looks fantastic. Is that Walnut plywood? I'm impressed.The safety issue is one of the biggest unsolved problems of the human-sized hamster wheel.</p><p>It really makes my day when I see my instructables executed in the real world.Thanks for making one!</p>
<p>Yes, the Walnut is plywood, it was actually the cheapest one I could find here in London, but it looks great.<br>Eventually the exhibition was good and no injuries were reported from people running on the wheel. :)<br><br>Thanks to you for sharing this, you really boosted my final project!</p>
<p>Now make a hamster ball!</p>
<p>i have seen this already done; there are field sports now where each participant is running inside of a hamster ball! (though not built with wood!)</p>
<p>And they don't have a computer inside either ;^&lt;</p>
<p>So you haven't seen it done then.</p>
<p>Listen to the Wait! Wait! Don't tell me! segment. Someone did suggest exactly that and described what it would be like at work. Hilarious.</p>
<p>that will bin awesome i would pay a lot of money for materials to make a hamster ball if i had instructions. Im with you man... Hamster Ball!!!!</p>
<p>We made this!! And it's a bigger one- 2.5m diameter. <a rel="nofollow">Check it out here.</a></p><p>We made it to test out how it might work for an upcoming show. And it worked a treat. Thanks for putting it up there, guys!!</p>
<p>Amazing!!</p><p>What did you use to cut the parts?</p>
<p>The plans were re-drawn to make it larger and everything was lazercut.</p><p>The vimeo link wasn't working properly on the last post so here it is again.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="281" src="//player.vimeo.com/video/113901146" width="500"></iframe></p>
<p>Hi, great build ( and great video!) did you still cut from 8x4 sheets? Any chance you could share your cad files? Thanks :)</p>
<p>Thanks echobass,</p><p>I don't have access to the cad files anymore unfortunately, The pieces were cut from 1200mm x 2400mm ply.</p>
<p>Well done</p>
<p>Wow, amazing that you managed to make it, impressive</p>
<p>Great! Now I need one. My kids will have fun, too. Will put it on the to-do-list for this year and next year and...</p>
<p>I don't think I can stand up and work all day, let alone walking at my desk all day.</p>
<p>Replacement for my noisy treadmill desk.</p><p>Thanks for great idea.</p>
<p>So basically this is useless to anyone who doesn't have autodesk? I don't work in any engineering field, i just need a wheel for my dog.</p>
Hi Tim!<br />This is just documentation of how I built my Hamster Wheel Standing Desk. It is entirely possible to build without any software or CNC machines, it would just take more time.<br />My friend JON-A-TRON wrote an instructable about using paper templates and a jigsaw to cut digital designs:<br />http://www.instructables.com/id/Digital-Fabrication-By-Hand/<br /><br />The design could also be redrawn with string compasses and pencil and cut by hand as well. I hope that helps!
<p>This is a great project, thanks for posting :). I've found somewhere to water cut the wheel, but wondered why you did the base by hand? Why not watercut that also? There's no scale on the PDF, did you have a .dxf file for the base that I can send to the CNC machiner?</p>
<p>echobass! </p><p>I was looking for the same thing. I would love to get a DXF for the base bearing stand plate side parts. I am ready to cut all parts if I just had that DXF. Please let me know if you were able to find one.</p>
Here is the part: https://www.dropbox.com/s/pf566ywrzfoo6br/wheelplate5_ToBeCut.dxf?dl=0
<p>Hi!</p><p>We cut the base by hand because it requires less precision and our waterjet went out of order.</p><p>Here is a dxf!</p><p>https://www.dropbox.com/s/pf566ywrzfoo6br/wheelplate5_ToBeCut.dxf?dl=0</p>
<p>That's an incredible project. Is it noisy when turning?</p>
<p>bring it to work and get fired. </p>
<p>You need to add a punching bag for stress relief. </p>
<p>There was a similar project at Red Bull Creation in Detroit this Fall, but hooked up to a generator. Was this an outgrowth (or prequel) to that? Is Bilal the Bilal from AHA in Ann Arbor? Really interesting idea. I've always wanted to build a moving desk that you could pedal along, based upon something like this: http://www.gizmag.com/emperor-1510-workstation-mwe/21412/</p>
<p>Hi!</p><p>It is the very same Bilal Ghalib from AHA! Seems to me that he has his fingers in all the makings across the globe. :-)</p><p>It is not related to the Red Bull project, but I am glad to see more hamster wheels in the world!</p>
<p>Very cool, would love to have this around.</p><p>In step 6 the image of the skate board wheel on the base has a big ass black washer betewwn it and the base. This is not shown on the schematic view below it.<br><br>Was that necessary for your particular build or should I include this to create space between the wheel and the base?<br><br>thank you.</p>
<p>The big washer turned out to be useless, so I omitted it from the ible.</p><p>Ideal space between the wheel and the base is about 1/8" or a little more. To little, and it rubs and too much and it drifts. </p>
<p>This looks great. Just one question for those that have built one, and I apologize in advance if I missed a relevant answer in the multitude of comments following this instructable, What's the noise level when its in operation?, because I could see that it might have to be confined to an insulated individual office if it was distracting to open office office mates.</p>
<p>The noise is a very serious issue. It was loud enough that it got banned from our office very shortly after we built it.</p><p>Making it out of steel might eliminate the wood-on-wood squeaking. A different wheel system would defeat the wood-on-wood rubbing. </p><p>Buying your coworkers headphones would be the easiest. :-)</p>
<p>A low-tech and potentially decorative solution to muffle noise is to add carpeting inside each wheel. </p>

About This Instructable



Bio: Robb is an Artist-in-Residence st Autodesk's Pier 9. He went to Carnegie Mellon to study Art. He mostly does tangible artifacts that are often ... More »
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