Traditional crafts  
  
 
 
 
 

 
 
Wheelwright

 

 

A wheel is a fun thing to make, you start from the centre by turning a wooden hub, which is then mortised to take the spokes. Around the spokes is fitted wooden rim known as the felloes (pronounced fellies). The whole lot is then held together with a steel band or tyre, there are no glue or screws, and if you look at it like that its a very simple process.

In reality there is a bit more too it. The type of hub, the number and size of the spokes, the number of sections in the felloes, and the angle of dish all makes a difference, but if your not a wheelwright it probably doesnt interest you.

The fun bit is putting on the tyre or steel rim that holds it all togther. Once the wheel is assembled I very carefully measure using a tool called a travellor around the outside of the wheel, allowing for all the gaps, I then subtract a little bit (and thats part of the skill) transferring that measurement to a rollied piece of steel which then becomes the tyre. In order to get it on, you heat it up to approx 600 degrees in a fire,when it expands just enough to get it over the wooden wheel. Once in place it then needs to be quickly chilled with water and it shrinks back to its orginal size, but now gripping the outside of the wheel. No matter how many times you see it done it always amazes.

I have made wheels for passenger carrying carriages,agricultural wagons, cannons and cars. The smallest and supposedly the hardest wheel I made was for a wheelbarrow, the largest was over 2mts. I had been inspired by a picture sent to me by some wheelwrights in Canada who had made an 8mt wheel, so I thought I would have a go. The size limit at the time was the height of the door to my workshop. Now I have a new workshop with a bigger door....


 


 
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