Introduction: Wooden Big Wheel Aka "Wooden Wheels of Freedom"

About: I build things with kids ages 10~16 in an afterschool program. I hope that I can continue to create instructables to inspire others Buy things on Amazon? Amazon donates a small percentage of your order t…

**Warning! This instructable may inspire you to try awesome or do awesome. If inspired to attempt awesome while or after reading, please be safe while doing awesome. I cannot be held responsible for others’ attempt at being awesome, to do awesome, or being awesome and meeting unfortunate mishaps while attempting to be or do awesome. Wear protective items and be safe.

Now... Let's break and build stuff.

I built this in about a week and gave it away as a trophy. Sorry I did not have better pictures or more pictures during the build process, then what is here since I was trying to meet a deadline. I do still have the sketches I drew which I uploaded with some insight to this project. I hope it is helpful.

Step 1: The Tools You'll Need

You will need some tools, but not a lot.

A pencil

Lots of Cardboard

measuring tape

Hand Saw or Circular Saw

Coping saw or Jig Saw

Belt Sander

Electric Drill

Deck Screws

Wood Glue

PPE Equipment (eye glasses, gloves, and maybe a mask because of the dust or if you cover it with polyurethane or stain afterwards.)

Polyurethane or stain to seal wood. Will not last being outside if you do not provide some level of protection

1/2" threaded rod and hardware.

You're preferred wood.

Step 2: Get a Lot of Cardboard. a Lot. and Do Some Research.

Using Cardboard will save you.

Using cardboard will save you on cost by preventing you from accidentally wasting or miss-cutting your wood while building.

You will need a lot of cardboard. The reason you will need cardboard is it will give you a better measurement of how and what size you want to make your Big Wheel. I unfortunately made mine too big. A 24" inch wheel and the overall length is 72" inches long. So even if I mounted pedals I would never be able to reach them.

Places to find Cardboard

You can usually find cardboard for free either from stores that receive goods and have lots of cardboard to throw away. If you need to have new cardboard or want uniform pieces you can usually find it relatively inexpensively from your home supply store ranging from $0.78 to $1.68 a box for a semi-large to large box. The above box from Home Depot is 16" x 12" x 12". If you were to open this up. It would be 56" inches (4' feet 8" inches wide) by 24" inches (2 feet tall) counting the flaps. This should be more than enough else you can either get bigger ones or duct tape them together.

Parts of a Big Wheel


3 wheels - Big wheel, little wheels

Frame - neck, triple tree, deck

handle bars

seat / backrest (this was a nightmare!)

Step 3: Start Drawing by Using Your Body and a Measuring Tape

First measurement:

Lay your measuring tape on the floor and sit in a comfortable position on the cardboard with your knees bent. Mark the measurement where your butt is, a safe area near your groin, and where your feet are located.

Second measurement:

Now fully extend your feet. Mark the new position where your feet are located. Now look at the pictures for this step.

Problems and Review of my Build Pics

There are two major flaws in my build that i discovered after the fact.

1) The upright neck support that is between my legs prevents me from scooting any further forward without receiving a rude awakening or getting a splinter on a fast ride.

2) The second issue, the deck where you sit down is too long (extends too far back) for my height. The Big Wheel as a whole is proportionate, but unfortunately I accidentally built it for someone who is at least 6'5". How to correct this? Give yourself about an inch to three inches in front of your crotch and about one inch behind your butt. I wouldn't exceed this, unless you have long legs, or are longer in the torso area.

The deck location on mine has about a 11 1/4" inch gap between my tailbone and the back rest of the seat.

You will want to design/build your big wheel so that the rear quarter of the front big wheel is positioned where your feet are at rest extended. This is so you can reach the extension of the sweep (pedal) motion you will make when pedaling the big wheel. If you don't do this, even if you install pedals, you will never be able to reach them at full extension. If you don't plan to install them, build it how you want to.

Make a decision on how big you want to go.

The wheel I built is a 24" big wheel in front and two ~16" inch small wheels in back, which is actually pretty darn big when you're short and in the sitting position. If you make it too big, you may not be able to see over the wheel unless your seat is higher. Too small and the big wheel may not look proportionate. I suggest using the cardboard to determine how much rake you have in the neck, triple tree and distance from your groin to where you feel would be a comfortable distance for you to pedal. Remember too close, and you will strain your legs or your knees could hit the handlebars.

Step 4: Start Drawing the Side View of Your Big Wheel on Paper and Cardboard.

Get your Sketch Ready

Once you have a general idea of the dimensions you want to use for your own. You will end up with a diagram that looks similar to the sketch that I uploaded. I gave the rough measurements of mine if you were sold on the picture.

Get ready

Put on your protective gear.

Parts to cut

Big Wheel - 2x identical diameter big wooden wheels cut from floor board. Use a compass a nail and string with the distance of the radius attached to a pen/pencil, or measure with tape and just wing it.

rear wheels - 4x identical diameter small wheels cut from floor board. use same method from above to make a near perfect circle.

Frame - 4x identical side rails of the frame. will be boxed in with wood supports like an oreo cookie with 2 x 4's or additional floor board cut and placed between.

SubFrame - 2x identical sub frame boards. The rear wheels mount onto these and 2x4's. If you use floor board internals would recommend supports every 2" to 3" inches. The seat will be glued and screwed down onto the deck.

Step 5: Some Assembly Required... Ok a Lot of Assembly

So you will have a lot of pieces and a lot to assemble. I am not going to say this instructable is very straight forward but pairs mirror each other and are boxed together with 2x4's like a Oreo cookie. Pieces you cut are the black cookie, 2x4 is the white filling in the middle. You can use floor board bridge supports in-between, but make sure you use glue and fasten them about every 2~3 inches for strength.

The fork is make of 4 parts. The pair of lower forks, the top riser (4"x4" block), handle bars (can be cut from a 2x4 or 2x8 depending upon design, and misc. hardware (threaded rod, screws,glue). Review my drawing for reference measurements and angles, and how the forks are assembled together. The method I used was having 2x - 4"x4" inch blocks of wood locked to a threaded rod using locknuts and spaced between another 4x4 block using washers. So, it will free float on the threaded bolt however the one rod is inner connected all the way down through the triple tree(neck) of the motorcycle.

Step 6: The Nightmarish Seat

I recommend you make your seat as simple as possible. Making the seat the way I did for this project, probably ruined the project for me due to the dirt/dust, work, and redundancy for what I felt was very little ROI (return on investment). I took many layers of wood; starting with the widest part of the seat back base and cut it out and then stacked them on top of each other into a 3D shape of what I wanted the seat to be. Then I just sanded the heck out of it. The amount of dust and the heat outside combined were unbearable. It was probably one of the worst experiences I've had working outside feeling like sawdust was clogging up my pores, unable to sweat, sanding for what seemed like hours. I'm sorry, I'm not a carpenter.

If I had known the seat would be as much work as it was the way I did it, I would have chosen something far more simple. Such as this design.

Step 7: Enjoy Your Freedom!

I do not recommend you ride this Big Wheel in the street or near traffic. I do not recommend you pull this behind a vehicle with a toe cable with someone on it or not. This will roll and steer, however it is not rated for performance use and this instructable and its design does not express any warranties. Please Be Safe!

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