Introduction: Dry Erase Decision Wheel

About: I started a wood shop during the Summer of 2009, and have been teaching myself techniques and skills through the project's I've built, both for myself and for others. Since then, I've added leatherworking, 3D…

My friend is extremely indecisive, almost to the point of it being a disorder, so for her 21st birthday I built her this one-of-a-kind gift, (I did a great deal of research to authenticate its originality).

The user divides the surface into sections with the marker, writes choices in those sections, and spins the wheel, effectively eliminating the burden of making difficult choices!

Not only was this a fun build, but it cost me $0 (due to the fact that I made a part of this in a machine shop at work), not to mention I got to use my new Dremel Trio.


Dremel Trio
Vertical Bandsaw
Drill Press
Circle Cutting Drill Attachment
Power Sander (and sandpaper)


3/4" thick wooden board (approx 8"x8")
1/8" thick aluminum
Dry Erase Board and Marker
Misc. hardware (bolts/washers etc)
Wood Stain
Super Glue/Cement
Bead Chain and eye-screw (optional)

NOTE: this is not a commercialized product, I came up with this on my own, so I'd appreciate all thoughts and suggestions!

Step 1: Cut Out the Body

This project was made possible by the fact that I used the tool shown in the picture below - an adjustable circle cutting bit, which is literally as old as I am (given to me by a family friend).

The widest diameter it could cut was 5", so I went with that as the width of the base.

I cut into the wood slowly because attacking the wood too fast could loosen the cutting tool or damage the gears in the drill press.  In this step I simply marked the outer diameter, because I would need the whole surface of the board available for the next step.

Step 2: Cut the Marker Slot

Unfortunately, I was too engrossed with making the slot that I didn't take more pictures, but it went as follows:

I used the marker as my template for dimensioning the hole.  The length was about 1/4" longer than the marker, the depth was slightly past half the marker thickness, and the width was slightly less than the marker thickness.  To cut it, I used my Dremel Trio, along with the straight-edge guide (to keep the hole rectangular).  

After cutting slightly less than my intended dimensions and using the marker as a guide, I cut at the sides at fractional intervals until the marker could fit snuggly enough to stay put but loose enough to pull out easily.

Step 3: Dremel the Writing Space Depression and Cut Out the Body

The depression is where the dry erase board would fit, creating a 1/4" thick rim around the outside of the top.

Using the center hole that was made by drilling into the board to mark the outer diameter, I used it as a reference to dremel down the surface inside the rim, about an 1/8" deep.  I'd dremel a full circle, and then change the guide's depth to cut smaller and smaller radii till the entire depression was smooth.

After dremeling, I put the board back into my drill press and finished cutting out the body.

Step 4: Make the Spinner Arrow

I couldn't really take pictures while making this part because I made it at work and thus had to be in-and-out in less than 20 minutes.

Basically, I found a template of a game arrow spinner online beforehand, and scaled it to size relative to the decision wheel.  I then traced this shape onto a 1/8" piece of scrap aluminum in the shop, and VERY CAREFULLY (using work gloves actually), cut out the shape with a vertical band-saw.

After the rough cut came a bunch of filing and sanding to smooth out the edges.  

Finally, I balanced it to find its center of mass, which I marked and promptly drilled through with a clearance hole for a 1/4-20 bolt.  Then I found some misc. washers and nuts to space the spinner from the board surface.

Step 5: Sand That Sucker Down

As always, I sanded it down by power sander first, and then by hand, initially with 120 grit, then down to 220 so that the outside surface is smooth to the touch and splinter free.

I didn't sand down the depressed surface because the dry erase board would be going on top of it.

Step 6: Dimensioning the Writing Surface

I eyeballed the radius of the dry erase surface to fit into the depression I made earlier, as shown in the picture.  With this measurement, i cut a template out of 1/8" thick scrap wood.  

I traced this template with a sharpie onto the dry erase, remembering to mark the center point as well, because I would need to drill through it to insert the spinner.

Step 7: Cut Out the Writing Surface

I carefully cut the dry erase with scissors (it's actually pretty thin), and inserted it into the body's depression to check the fit.

I used a 1/4" drill bit to drill through the center mark, and again made sure that the spinner assembly fit in comfortably.

Finally, I cleaned the surface with Lysol and a rag. (only because this was an old dry erase board and had marks on it)

Step 8: Insert Eye-screw

For the option of hanging the decision wheel on a wall or whatnot, I opted for attaching an eye-screw with some bead chain.

After drilling the eye-screw hole (1/16" bit), screwing it in, and attaching the bead chain (about 8"), I hung the decision wheel at my drying station in preparation for staining.

Step 9: Stain It

I opted for a lighter stain, some sort of light oak I think.  I used a clean rag to stain the surfaces, and used its corners to get at the edges inside the marker slot.   After one coat of stain, I allowed a 24 hour period of drying before moving on.

Step 10: Glue the Dry Erase Surface to the Wheel

I applied a multi-purpose cement glue to the depressed surface and the back of the dry erase circle, and held them together for a few hours as shown.

Step 11: Attach the Spinner

The 1/4-20 bolt was slightly loose in the 1/4" hole I drilled.  I wanted the bolt to be removable in case anything broke, so I applied one layer of masking tape around the threads of the bolt, to add more grip to the wood by the bolt, which seemed to work out fine.

I ended up using just one washer as a spacer between the spinner and dry erase surface, which was more than enough.  I screwed the bolt down to keep the spinner loose enough to spin about 6-8 times around.

Step 12: Make Instructions (optional)

Since this was a humorous birthday present, and because I wanted to fool my friend into thinking this was an actual thing (at least for a moment), I came up with some instructions in Paint, printed them out, and poor-man laminated them (with packing tape).

This was also a good opportunity to infuse some inside jokes into the present.

Step 13: Going the Extra Mile

To make this present seem as professionally made as possible, I used my dad's SLR digital camera to take some great quality photos of the finished product, photoshop them with text, and then print them out and glue them to a box the decision wheel would go into.

I found some old piece of canvas as a backdrop, and the photos turned out really well (also looked like I picked the right stain).

When my friend unwrapped it, she believed for about 5 seconds that I actually had found this at some sort of 70's yard sale. 

Needless to say, it was worth it.

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What Can You Do with a Dremel Tool?

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