My Pirate Costume Ship's Wheel!!




Introduction: My Pirate Costume Ship's Wheel!!

About: Im just a man. A man who like to make stuff. To take things apart just to see how it works. And hope I can put it back together again...or use the parts in something else...

For Halloween I'm usually a pirate. This year I'm adding a prop component in the form of a ship's wheel. The Idea was to have a spinning ship's wheel attached to a harness of some kind.

I started this project with a few ideas of what I wanted and no idea how I was going to do it. In fact I didn't figure out most steps until it was time to do them. I also decided to make it primarily out of cardboard for two reasons:

First, I just happened to have a lot of cardboard laying around, making the project cheap,
Second, I am submitting this project for the gorilla glue cardboard contest.

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: Materials and Tools:

For materials I gathered:

Large flat pieces of cardboard
One cardboard ring
One old used bearing
Spray paint and wood stain
1/4" Rope
Masking tape


Band saw
Hobby knife
Wood glue
Hot glue gun

Step 2: "Dowels" and Rings:

First thing was to glue the 2 pieces of flat cardboard together to make one thick piece of cardboard & then I cut them into 1/2 inch square "dowels". I just spread out a fair amount of wood glue between the 2 pieces, put some weight on top and left it over night.

Then I cut then the large ring into 4 thinner rings. I had to use a jigsaw so they didn't come out perfect, but no one should notice on Halloween night. I only needed 2 of the rings, but its always nice having extra in case you make a mistake.

Step 3: Smaller and Smaller:

Next I cut one ring to make it smaller for the inside ring. What I did was run the piece under hot water for a minute or two & curled it into a smaller ring and glued it. It did not come out as circular as I had hoped, but it should be fine as it wont show much. I also made an even smaller ring with the piece i cut off the second ring just in case I wanted a different size. I didn't.

Step 4: Drilling and Jigsawing:

In order to make this wheel I needed to put the dowels through the wheel, which means I needed holes, which needed to be square. I did this by drilling a 1/2 in hole with my drill & squaring it off with my jigsaw. Having a reference drawing for the dowel placement made it a lot easier to line up 6 set of holes between 2 rings.

Step 5: Checking and Covering:

Of course at this point it would be silly not to make sure that everything would line up. I couldn't help myself but put together what I had to make sure it worked. Plus it helps to see how things are taking shape in the real world & not just in my head.

I now needed a piece to cover the rings because it was looking kind of bare so I cut out a flat ring to do just that. I glued the cover onto the 2 rings. I cut the cover a little over-sized & trimmed in down after it was glued on. Also I glued each ring on separately to make sure they both got in the right place. I trimmed the cover down close to the edge of the ring & sanded it down flat.

Step 6: Stain and Paint:

At this point I decided to add some color & life to the wheel.

I started with a stain to darken the cardboard up followed by some matte black spray paint to add a little effect. I think it looks OK, but it should look better once the lettering is on it.

Step 7: Handles and Tape:

So now onto the handles. I tried to bulk up the handles using paper mache but it didn't really work, I did it all at once instead of in layers & that was a bad idea. I was sitting around in my garage trying to think of the best way to do this part and I realized I should use masking tape. It was cheap, It was on hand. I wrapped a ton of masking tape around each handle & they came out looking pretty decent.

I then put as much of the wheel as I have done together to check the progress & I think its coming along nicely.

Step 8: Finishing the Handles:

At this point I did some tests to see what would look best. i already had the handles built up out of masking tape, but I wasn't sure if I could just spray paint/stain them and call it good, or if I would have to paper mache them to smooth the edges of the tape so they didn't show so much.

i tried normal brown spray paint, but it was glossy and looked really cheesy, I also tried the stain which didn't look terrible but it really showed the edges of the masking tape. In the end I put a thin layer of paper mache over the masking tape and used acrylic craft paint. I used the color nutmeg, because of the three browns in the bucket of paints it was the least glossy and most wood like. I also gave them a light spray of matte black to give some texture to the color.

I know what they look like...the joke has already been made to me...many times....

Step 9: Bearing and Glue:

This was a simple step. I simply used wood glue to glue the bearing to the wooden dowels. Then I reinforced it with hot glue.

Step 10: Rope and Patience:

This step was not too complicated but was somewhat time consuming. I cut 6 pieces of 1/4 inch rope in 40 inch lengths. Each length of rope was hot glued around a "spoke" of the wheel. It took a little while but I think it came out looking pretty good.

Step 11: Lettering And:

Originally I had no intentions of naming the "ship". I hadn't really considered it, but....

I was watching cartoons with the 5 year old & he really likes Popeye right now on account of my mom sending over like 10 DVD's of really old Popeye cartoons. In one cartoon Popeye fights a sea witch that he refers to as the wicked sea hag. I found this very amusing and decided to go with that as the name of my "ship"

I cut out all the letters from the same flat cardboard I had sitting around using a band saw. I hot glued in the edges so they held stain, Stained them and glued them on.

Step 12: Finishing Touches and Yo Ho Ho:

At last, it's complete. A little stain here and there to touch up some glue that pushed out from under the lettering, and done. I might also try to make the rope look a little dingy and aged, but I'm not sure how just yet, or if I even will.

Now I've got to figure out how exactly I'm going to attach it to my body. right now I've got just a piece of thick wire bent into a kind of pseudo harness that I don't think is going to be my final say on the matter. That may be another Instructable. I'm also thinking of running up a small Jolly Roger flag up and out of the backside of my shirt. We'll see what happens.

Participated in the
Gorilla Glue Cardboard Contest

Participated in the
Halloween Contest

Be the First to Share


    • Wearables Contest

      Wearables Contest
    • Fix It Contest

      Fix It Contest
    • Wearables Contest

      Wearables Contest

    12 Discussions


    5 years ago

    TiffanyL1 - I got the cardboard ring from my work, it's the ring the palate strapping came on. Most places that ship palates just throw them away and would probably give them to you for free. If you make one post a pic in the comments for us to see!


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Great tuturial! Where do you find the cardboard rings? I am needing to make one of these for a photo booth prop so hopefully its something I can find locally. Thanks!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    On first glance I thought the wheel was made of wood or possibly foam but to find it is actually cardboard is truly amazing. Thanks for sharing.


    9 years ago on Step 12

    Great Instructable and costume. I'm actually re-doing my room in a nautical theme and finding a ship's wheel in good condition is quite pricey. I will change things up a bit in the materials, but this gives me a great idea for making my own decor. Thanks!


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Ha ha! Now you can go up to people, and when they ask why you have a steering wheel in front of your belt you can say: "I don't know, but its driving me' nuts!" ba-dum kshhh!


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    hahahahahahaha.. argh I like the rope wrap. good job


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Arghhh!!!! Give me all your candy or walk the plank!


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Amazing creativity, great instructable...hope you do more! Cman