Introduction: How to Make RC Cars Wheels From Cardboard and Kraft Paper

RC wheels are essential parts for all RC cars. There are various categories and types of RC wheels and getting the wheel selection right is one of the most important factors when dealing with these cars. When I started DIYing RC cars, one of the major issues I had was wheel purchase and the cost of the wheels. This got me thinking of how to DIY my own wheels from materials I can lay my hands on easily. So, in this instructable, I will explain how to make cardboard wheels for RC cars.

According to, cardboard for prototyping presents three advantages:

· It is cheap

· It is sturdy

· It is recyclable

The above advantages give these cardboard wheels edge over the other wheels in terms of cost, customizability and also recyclability.

Step 1: Materials and Tools

Corrugated Cardboard (from cartons)

Kraft paper or brown paper

Wood glue (Top Bond)

Disposable gloves, Safety glasses and nose mask

Long ruler, Pencil, A pair of compasses and Eraser

Material with circular form (Pipe, Empty drink cans)

Hole making tools (Drilling machine, Drill bits)

Vernier calipers (Digital)

Scissors and Box cutter

Step 2: Safety

The following safety precautions (adopted from
are required for using wood glues:

· Wear adequate protection

· Work in well ventilated area

· Use proper tools

· Use recommended amounts only

· Keep out of reach of children

· Never leave the lid open

· Dispose safely

· Seek medical attention in case of ingestion or inhalation

Also, some safety precautions to follow when using the drill (adopted from

· Avoid baggy clothing

· Wear protective gear

· Secure your work-piece

· Properly set the drill bit

· Apply proper pressure to the drill

Step 3: Take Measurements and Decide Dimensions

Choose a material with circular cross-sectional area that you want to use as your form (such as pipes, soda cans, spray cans). The diameter of the material chosen to be the form has to be measured to ensure the final outcome would not be too large or too small for the RC car. Add little to the diameter (say about 0.5cm) just to have a rough idea of the final diameter of the wheel. For my form, I would be using a Soda can.

Also, decision has to be made on the number of wheels that are to be made and also the thickness of the wheels. This would give the total width of the Kraft paper that would be rolled and glued to form the Tyre (supporting structure for the rim).

Step 4: Cut Kraft Paper and Thin Cardboard

Based on the dimensions and calculations above, cut the Kraft paper into strips with width a little more than the total width of the four wheels. The length should be as much as possible so that you wouldn’t have to join too many strips to give you your desired thickness (and strength). My strips were about 710mm and I cut 5 strips although, I used only four because it was getting too thick. It is okay if you have more strips than you need, for redundancy sake because you really don’t want to start cutting again while you have started the gluing process.

Also, the material for the first layer should be thicker and stronger than the following ones just to add more strength to the whole structure. I used corn flakes carton which is harder and stronger than the Kraft paper for my first layer.

Step 5: Tape and Glue

Furthermore, start by taping the Corn flakes carton cut on one side and then attaching the other side to it and then insert the can into it as shown in the image and video. You have to try as much as possible to avoid crease at the joint where the taping is done although it is almost inevitable. One way to eliminate it is to sand or grind it after gluing ad drying.

Then apply glue on the external part of the carton cut and also apply glue on one of the paper strips and start fitting the paper on the carton cut little by little. Try as much as possible to prevent air from occupying little spaces while you are doing the fitting.

When you are done gluing all the strips, apply the glue to whole external layer especially the point where the last layer stopped. Also, apply some glue to the sides. Also, try and make sure that glue doesn’t accumulate in between the can and the layers of paper and carton so that the layers don’t get stuck on the can. After the finishing, remove the can gently from the whole part and then fit the can back. After five minutes, repeat the removal again. This is to prevent the tyre from getting permanently stuck to the form.

Step 6: Cut Shapes for Rims

Using the adjusted circumference and diameter of the can, draw and cut 16 circular shapes (in my case) from the corrugated cardboard, 4 for each wheel. Cut 4 of the circular shapes into a stylized rim cover as shown in the image. Use any design that suits you.

Step 7: Cut Out Tyres

After about 24hrs (In my case, depending on the glue used), the tyre should be completely dry and then, you can cut it into 4 pieces depending on your specifications. This is shown in the video and images. I used 20mm as the thickness of each wheel in my own case.

Step 8: Glue Tyres and Rims

Now you have all the components of the wheel. So, glue the rims and the tyres together. Try and make sure there isn’t too much space between them to ensure firm joints. The video shows how I did mine. Allow it to dry up (completely) for about 24 hours.

Step 9: Attach Wheels to RC Car

Finally, when you have the wheels ready, fully dried, you can now take them for a spin. The wheels (mine) are strong although the grip is not too good yet. I’ll probably add some tweaks to them later on. Enjoy the ride.

Wheels Contest 2017

Participated in the
Wheels Contest 2017