Picture of Pirate Ship Helm
Make your living room into the deck of a Pirate Ship starting with with this Pirate Ship Helm - It's great for photo ops during your pirate party.
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Step 1: Here's a video of the build process

Picture of Here's a video of the build process

Step 2: Materials

Picture of Materials
The wheel is made from Styrofoam and the spokes are made from wood spindles. The center is made up of thin plywood and cardboard.

I started work on the Styrofoam wheel

Step 3: Cutting the Styrofoam

Picture of Cutting the Styrofoam
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I bought a 4 inch thick rectangular block of Styrofoam from A.C. Moore art supply store. I marked off arc shaped pieces and cut it with a band saw. The Styrofoam is easily cut, so you could use a hacksaw blade to cut it if you don't have access to a band saw. Another method involves a hot wire which I did not try.

The arc shape pieces are then assembled into a circle and glued together. I used a water based wood glue which was not the best choice - it took several days to dry.

I used 'hot glue' sparingly to hold it together while the wood glue was drying. Too much hot glue can cause the Styrofoam to melt!

Apparently there are glues available at the art supply store that would have been more appropriate.
(lesson learned!)

This was actually the most expensive part of the project - about $15.00

Step 4: Wheel Spokes and Hand Grips

Picture of Wheel Spokes and Hand Grips
I found some wooden spindles at Home Depot that were exactly what I needed. They cost only a few bucks and had the shape that I was looking for without needing a lathe!

The spindle must be cut in half, and the ends sanded smooth.

I needed to buy only 4 spindles to make the eight spokes and hand grips.

i might start off the Jackdaw by making this

drake2213 years ago
nice prop
amberj5 years ago
I'm using your method for constructing a ship's helm for a drama production.
What is the outside & inside diameter of the styrofoam wheel? Center wheel?
mrfoltz5 years ago
Great job...
Who says big kids can't have fun??? LOL
lennyb7 years ago
yarrrrr this is great matey. all ya needs is a bucket o seawater over the rail and yer there.
A million thankyous... we live not far from an historic seaport and do you have any idea how hard it is to find one of these things??? Mate, you have to be joking... they just dont exist anymore. I've no option but to use your idea, but making it out of plywood and blocks of pine and glue n screws n paint
You are an inspiration. thankyou once again
BrianH (author)  frank farrell7 years ago
Thanks - glad you liked it. Let us know how your version of the helm project works out... Take some pictures during construction and post em up!

Your version sounds like it should be more hearty than mine. Good luck

If you get a chance please vote on the video at:

Mate, I must be the photo uploader from hell. I just can not make it happen here !!!!!. BUT if you look for me on FACEBOOK, you will see the pix we took of our helm. Really, I have tried to upload to the Instructables, but it wont do it. OR I have been doing it the wrong way. But Look in facebook. Cheers matey Frank Farrell, Kulin, Western Australia.
Frank, There are 248 Frank (or Francis) Farrells on FACEBOOK. Got a link to your profile? Help! Deb
I did it. I made the instructable. Check it out
all right !!!! I have discovered the magic wand ( lol ) AT LONG LAST I AM SUCCEDING AT UPLOADING MY PICTURES TO THIS SITE YIPPEEE! Still a few to load, but for now I will sleep easier knowing I am on the right track. Will update soon Regards Frank
OK, try this link

Or look for Frank Farrell
Western Australia
dbp4285 years ago
Dude, that is an amazing reproduction especially when you learn it’s made of Styrofoam. And using the rails cut in half is a fantastic idea as well. All in all you made a ships wheel which is really authentic looking out of seemly un-authentic parts. GREAT Job!
KANahas7 years ago
That is awesome! I've always wanted to make one and connect it to a drive, attach a skeleton to it and put some scrim in the background...
G'day shipmates My version of your ship's helm has now been constructed. I used it as a stage prop at my daughter's school graduation ball. My wife and daughter had to take the photos as I am somewhat of a neanderthal when it comes to these things. However.... I managed to load the pictures into my computer and at this point in time am attempting to upload to my site in the Instructibles...avast!!!
Ima_Pirate7 years ago
Yar, I have 18 real ones, but this is great for ya landlubbers who haven't plundered ships.
Sniper Guru7 years ago
This is awesome!