Bike Hub Banding / Pottery Wheel

I love using discarded materials to build something useful. There is something about finding a broken this or broken that on the side of the road and knowing right away what you are going to use it for. There is also something about finding that same this or that and not having a clue what you are going to use it for... this could prove to be problematic down the road.

Bikes are one of those things that I seem to find out on the curb more often than not. Although, it makes me happy to score a free bike, it also is somewhat sad that we have so much in this country that we can discard a form of transportation, something so many would be grateful to have. At times it's not the whole bike that I find on the side of the road, but it's "organs", so to speak. Over time I have collected a fair number of wheels and frames that I have been slowly either rebuilding into working bikes or modifying into other useful projects.

My wife knows that I will start building something at the drop of the hat and when she asked if I could put together a banding wheel for her I knew that a bike wheel had to be incorporated into it in some manner. A banding wheel is used to decorate, glaze, and build hand-built pottery on. Could you attach a gear, or better yet leave a gear cluster, and use it as a pottery wheel? Probably! I asked her if that was needed and she said "not this time". What I ultimately ended up using was only the hub of the bike to act as both the bearings and tower to lift the spinning disc off of the table. I used 99% reclaimed/recycled materials (other than hot glue and some screws). The entire build took about 2 hours if you ignore the few fails that I had, which, by the way, I documented so that you avoid them and it only takes you two hours to build the wheel.

Step 1: A Wheelie Good Time: Acquiring Your Bearings

The first step is to acquire a bike wheel with a working bike hub (the center portion of the bike wheel that allows the wheel to spin and has the spokes connected to it). I used a bike wheel with a quick release lever instead of the older style through bolt. I did this because it was the only type of wheel I had available other than stealing a wheel from my son's or daughter's bike... that would be totally uncool. If you can get a wheel without the quick release hub you will be better off in my opinion. The solid bolt length is longer than the hollow quick release bolt and you have to do less monkeying around with it. It still works fine, but you could speed things up using the other type of hub.

Here are the steps to take apart your wheel:

  1. I used a flat head screw bit that I filed a little notch in the middle of to remove my spoke nipples quickly. The little notch is important as it is often the case that the spoke threads will poke a bit beyond the spoke nipple's back and you will not be able to use a typical flat screw bit. Remove all of the spoke nipples and save them for another project later on down the road.
  2. Start pulling the spokes out from the rim until you are left with a hub with spokes radiating out of it. Save that rim! There are tons of instructables (bike rim bottle opener, bike rim crab trap) out there to reuse a bike rim and I have a couple in the wings that I plan on making and posting.
  3. Now pull the spokes out of the hub and save them (more goods to hold on to for later projects).
  4. You will also have the quick release skewer that can be used for a number of projects and acts as a good cam lock.
  5. Since I used a quick release style hub I was working with a relatively short bolt length. The bolt that passes through the hub will attach to a plate of wood, which will act as the new "hub" to attach your top spinning disc to. I used what are called cone wrenches along with some typical 17mm wrenches to loosen one side of the hub in order to elongate the other. Make one side as short as possible and the other as long as possible.

Step 2: Bearing Block

The hub will need to rest on some sort of block of wood and the end that you shortened the bolt on needs to spin freely. I had an old chunk of 2-1/2" thick oak left over from my cider press project which I made a crude 5" circle out of and then cleaned it up on the router. I then drilled a pilot hole down through the middle of it for the next steps.

Step 3: You Spin Me Right Round...

I cut the plywood base and plywood top from scrap plywood pieces I found at the lumber yard (the free bin). I used my simple circle cutting jig on my bandsaw to cut a 14" wide top and a 10" wide bottom. I made the top 14" because my wife has what's called a sticky bat that affixes to her pottery wheel that she wanted to use on the banding wheel and it is 13-3/4" wide. There will be instructions later on how I made it removable on the banding wheel.

Step 4: Hubba Hubba - Attaching Block to Base

I routed the edges of my two plywood circles and then gave them a quick sanding. I then measured the diameter of the nut on the end of the hub so that I could use a forstner bit to drill a hole into the hub block that would accommodate the short end of the hub. I then drilled a hole on the back side of the base of the banding wheel to accommodate the washer and nut. After drilling a 3/8" hole through the block and base I used a flat headed carriage bolt (that I some how acquired) to attach the hub block to the circular base making sure to leave adequate room for the bolt end of the hub to spin freely.

Step 5: Oh Failure You Fickle Friend

I tell my students all the time that failure just tells you what you need to avoid if you plan on succeeding next time. I still totally get that it is frustrating as all heck though.

Fail #1 - My first thought was to attach the hub directly to the top spinning plate (the working end of the banding wheel). The problem was that my bolt coming through the middle of the hub wasn't really that long, even with the extension made earlier on, and my plywood is 3/4" thick. I drilled some holes in the plywood but really couldn't get a good purchase on the thin nut attached to the hub. Then when I countersunk the holes a bit more I only had 1/4" of material left to support the whole shebang! That made for a weak point that made for a wobbly wheel and I needed to do something else. I had a couple of old bike crank parts from a kid's bike that fit in the holes and acted as nice cupped washers, but now my bolt / shaft couldn't fit all the way through the holes and I was back to square one.

Fail #2 - I decided the only way to make a more stable top was to have a supportive base under the top. I also thought that it would be nice if my wife could go between multiple types or sizes of tops if so desired. I used a piece of old laminate flooring to make a square that would attach to the top of the hub (see pic on next step) which would then attach to the circular top. This seemed like it would work great but I still had to make a countersunk hole and once everything was put together I had another weak point where the hub passed through the square piece of flooring. Yet another wobbly top!

Step 6: Success! Hub Meets Hub

I felt that my square hub plate was definitely going to work so I just decided to use something a bit denser. I had some 7/16" thick oak that I had left over from a previous project and I cut a 5-1/2" x 5-1/2" square of it. I marked the middle, drilled a 3/8" hole to accommodate the diameter of the hub bolt's diameter and then used a fender washer to help distribute the weight. I also had to drill a 1-1/8" wide hole about 1/16" deep so that the nut could get some purchase on the hub's bolt.

Once I was certain that the plate fit well on the hub and everything was nice and lined up I affixed the hub to the hub block. I had to drill the spoke holes to be a bit wider so that a screw could be passed through it. I also predrilled the hub block and then sunk a few 1" screws through the spoke holes and into the hub block. Use a square to make sure everything is as straight as it can be.

I then reattached my square hub plate and lined up my top of the banding table disc on top of that and clamped the two together. I drilled two holes through both the top table and the hub plate and made sure that there was a drilled area for the bolt heads to be recessed and out of the way. The top table is attached to the hub plate with two bolts and a couple of wing nuts.

I noticed that when I spun the table I had a bit of a wobble, probably about 1/8" out of true which is pretty significant if you are using it to decorate and cut straight lines on your pottery. To fix the problem I put a piece of tape attached to a vertical board and spun the table top to see what areas were out of true. I marked them on the hub plate and then used duck tape to act as a shim to bring the whole thing up to true. Took some tinkering but it worked like a charm and by the end the whole thing was less than 1mm out of true.

Step 7: A Real Corker - Making Some Feet for Your Banding Wheel

I had a number of chunks of cork from an old cork board at school that needed to find some good use. I used a hole saw chucked in my drill press to cut out four circular feet which I then hot glued to the bottom of the banding wheel base.

Step 8: Sticky Bat

The sticky bat has two holes on the back of it that are 10" apart. I marked a straight line directly across the center of the banding wheel's top surface and then marked the two locations for the pins to be installed. I used two circular-headed hex bolts that fit into the sticky bat's holes and placed them in the correct location on my table's surface... and then popped the sticky bat on top of them.

Step 9: Done!

Cost = $0.00 and a ton of utility... it's great!


I hope you enjoyed the instructable and if you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask.

Trash to Treasure

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Trash to Treasure

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