How to make a toy car wheel & axle

Written by mark morris | 13/05/2017
How to make a toy car wheel & axle
Creating perfect wheels for your toys is simple. (wooden car over parquet image by Julija Sapic from

Making toy cars is a pastime that many woodworkers enjoy. Creating wheels that rolls smoothly, with precisely centred axles, is one of the keys to a good toy car. Many methods of wheel-making are too complicated, or the equipment is too expensive, for the average hobbyist. A simple method for creating truly round wheels with accurately centred axles is as close as your toolbox.

Decide what size wheels you need for your toy car. Make your wheels large enough to lift the car off the ground sufficiently to get a smooth roll. The wheels also must be small enough to prevent them rubbing on wheel wells, fenders and other obstructions.

Choose a piece of 3/4-inch, cabinet-grade plywood or soft solid wood, such as pine or poplar. Make sure the wood is large enough to cut as many wheels as you need for your toy.

C-clamp the material to a work surface so the area your first wheel will be cut from extends away from the work top, with empty space below for the drill bit to drop into.

Select a hole saw that is the size of your wheel. Adjust the centre bit to be at least 3/8-inch past the tip of the hole saw.

Place the tip of the centre bit where you want to place the centre of the wheel. Start the drill, and keep steady pressure on it--do not force the bit. Keep the drill level to cut through the material evenly.

Allow the bit to cut through the back of the material at its own pace to avoid splintering the material. Remove the wheel from the hole saw with a screwdriver. Press the screwdriver against the wheel by poking through one of the vent holes in the back of the hole saw, pressing the wheel out of the saw.

Sand the wheel to smooth the edges.

Drill a 5/16-inch hole through the toy car where you want the axle to pass through the car's body. Use a finished wheel as a template to mark the spot.

Cut a 1/4-inch dowel to a length equal to the thickness of two wheels, plus the thickness of the toy where the axle hole has been drilled. Add 1/8-inch for clearance. This is your axle.

Install one wheel on one end of the axle dowel. Use wood glue to hold the wheel in place. Make sure the end of the dowel is flush with the outside surface of the wheel.

Pass the axle with one wheel attached through the axle hole in the body of the car. Attach a second wheel to the remaining end of the axle with wood glue. Repeat Steps 1 through 4 for each axle. Allow the glue to dry thoroughly before rolling the toy.

Things you need

  • Plywood or pine lumber
  • Drill
  • Hole saw
  • 5/16-inch wood bit
  • 1/4-inch dowel
  • C-clamp

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