How to make a wooden pulley

Written by jonah morrissey
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How to make a wooden pulley
A wooden pulley. (horizontal pulley image by Xavier MARCHANT from

A pulley is a device that lightens the amount of effort required to lift an object. Wooden pulleys have been used throughout history in industry and transportation. One common use of wooden pulleys historically was the rigging on sailing ships. Wooden pulleys are not widely available commercially, but they can be made with a few basic materials and tools. Wooden pulleys add beauty to a project whether for display or for light use.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Protective eyewear
  • 1 wooden block, 4 by 4 by 6
  • Tape measure
  • Table saw with dado set
  • Threaded eye bolt
  • 1/8-inch drill bit
  • Drill
  • 1 board, 1 by 3 by 3
  • 2-inch hole saw
  • Lathe
  • Small v-cutter
  • 1/8-by-4-inch dowel
  • Wood glue
  • Damp rag

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    How to Make a Wooden Pulley

  1. 1

    Make a cut 2 inches wide and 3 inches deep into one end of a 4-by-4-by-6 block of wood using a table saw with a dado set. This will be the body of the pulley. The wheel will fit into this cut.

  2. 2

    Screw the threaded eye bolt into the centre of the top of the wooden block. Turn it all the way in so that just the eye is exposed. This is the eye through which rope is threaded.

  3. 3

    Cut a hole in the 1-by-3-by-3 board using a 2-inch hole saw and a drill. Remove the circle from the hole saw. This is the wheel of the pulley.

  4. 4

    Lock the wheel into a lathe. Turn the lathe on at moderate speed. Use a small v-cutter to cut a groove into the centre of the outside edge of the circle. Stop the lathe once the cut is complete. Remove the wheel from the lathe. This groove will accommodate the rope.

  5. 5

    Drill a hole through the pulley block 2 inches up from the bottom on the side opposite to the pulley opening. Use a 1/8-inch drill bit and drill. This will accommodate the dowel that will hold the wheel in place.

  6. 6

    Apply wood glue to the inside of the hole on each side of the block and insert the wheel inside the pulley block.

  7. 7

    Align the holes in the block to the pulley wheel hole and slide the dowel from the outside of the pulley block through the hole in the pulley wheel and through the other side of the pulley block.

  8. 8

    Wipe off any excess glue with a damp rag. Allow the glue to dry before using the pulley.

Tips and warnings

  • Make pulleys of different sizes so that you will have the right size for every job.
  • Wear eye protection when operating woodworking machines.
  • Wooden pulleys are not designed to lift heavy objects. Use only as a decorative element or for light duties.

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