Here is how my good friend and techshop Jedi Danny Garcia made a cool steering wheel for a vintaqe style race car we are building at Techshop San Francisco
Step 1: Making the metal blank
Here we made the aluminum middle part of the steering wheel with a simple 2 d drawing and cut it out on the water jet. The only critical dimensions are the bolt holes and shaft diameter hole where it bolts to the steering column. A little careful measuring goes along way. It turned out to be a 9 minute cut file for the water jet.
Step 2: Danny Garcia at the controls of the Shop Bot table cnc table router
For the shop bot, we move to 3d drawings because we want to make contours. In this case, we want to round the outer and inner edge of the top piece of our three piece steering wheel, as well as make all the finger indentations in the back piece. An Autodesk program like Alias is perfect for projects like this, and provided as part of the member experience for all techshop members.
By using a 3d modeling software available at Techshop and Danny's Jedi like mastery of it, we come up with a file that gives us a nearly finished piece right off the router.
The basics of gluing up the blank are not covered here, but planing of the wood and the glue surfaces was done in our wood shop, and then glued and clamped to make a square blank large enough to cut both pieces from. The wood we used wash Ash, chosen by me for the blonde color.
Step 3: Bottom section cut of vintage steering wheel
Here you can see the bottom section getting cut. Notice the flutes and reliefs that create the finger indention that make the wheel easy to grip. This pattern was taken from Danny's vintage Volvo 122 and adapted to our diameter for the Rallier Roadster. Although easy to get done this way, beware, the cut took a little over three hours of machine time total.