How to Make a Scale Model of Wire Wheels

Updated April 17, 2017

Model cars are some of the most common models for children and car enthusiasts. Although there are various difficulties, the more challenging model cars require much special attention to smaller details such as the type of wheels and the paint job. A model car with a lot of detail can look more authentic. One of the common additions to model cars for authenticity and detail is wire wheels. Although you can purchase them, you can make your own for a more realistic appearance.

Drill a hole at the centre of the 3/16-inch styrene discs with a 3/32-inch drill bit.

Attach one of the discs to one end of the styrene tubing with craft cement. Align the hole in the tubing with the one in the disc.

Place the first balsa block on a flat surface. Lay the first wheel template on the balsa block and place the styrene tubing in the centre with the styrene disc against the balsa block. The styrene tubing will serve as the wheel hub.

Insert straight pins through the centre of the styrene tubing to hold the template in place on the balsa block.

Smooth the inside edges of the rim halves with sandpaper. Position one rim half on top of the template.

Bend three straight pins approximately 3/8 inch from the point of the pin. Make 90-degree bends.

Place the pins at equal distances around the wheel rim. Secure the rims to the balsa block by pressing the straight pins into the balsa block. Press the pins tightly against the edge of the wheel rims.

Repeat the procedures in steps 3 to 7 to attach a second rim half to the second balsa block. Place the remaining styrene disc in the centre of the second template. This will form the opposite end of the wheel hub.

Place the spokes on the wheel rim according to the template for the first wheel half. Use tweezers to pick up and position the spokes on the wheel. Only place the spokes that form a complete clockwise revolution.

Apply a small amount of craft cement to each end of the spoke. Secure one end of the spoke to the wheel hub and the other to the top of the rim. Only cement spokes that are placed in the same direction at once. The spokes will extend slightly past the edge of the rim.

Repeat the procedures in steps 1 and 2 to position and glue the spokes that go in the opposite direction of the first layer. Repeat the same procedure for the other half of the wheel rim.

Allow enough time for the craft cement to dry.

Trim the spokes to the exact length of the wheel rim with a hobby knife. Trim each spoke carefully as not to accidentally pull the spokes away from the wheel rim.

Sand the rim halves at the top slightly to flatten the spokes. Do not sand them too much as this will thin out the spokes and detach them from the rims.

Join the wheel halves with craft cement. Apply craft cement to the wheel rim above the spokes, as well as the centre styrene disc. Align the wheels to offset the pattern of the spokes slightly. Allow enough time for the cement to set.

Paint the rims with chrome paint. Allow the paint to set until it is dry to the touch.

Insert the joined wheel rims in a tire for a sleek, finished appearance.


Repeat the procedures from beginning to end to form the remaining wheels for the model car.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 rim halves
  • 2 balsa blocks
  • Sandpaper
  • Model wheel spokes
  • 3/32-inch styrene tubing (1/8-inch long)
  • 2 3/16-inch styrene discs
  • 3/32-inch drill bit
  • Drill
  • 2 wheel templates
  • Tweezers
  • Hobby knife
  • Crafting cement
  • Paintbrush
  • Chrome paint
  • Tire
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Scarlett Gauthier began writing in 2003. Gauthier has a graphic design/arts DVS from Rosemount Technology Center in Montreal.