Instructions to make a spinning prize wheel

Written by dustin pitan
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Instructions to make a spinning prize wheel
An elaborate Spinning Prize Wheel. (wheel of joy image by Empath from

A spinning prize wheel is a game that can be seen in many carnivals. The most famous, can probably be seen on the television show, "Wheel of Fortune." The wheel consists of a round, flat board with different pie-pieces sectioned off. When spun, a rubber piece slows the board, and also comes to a rest on the pie-piece and tells you if you've won or not. Usually stood vertically for carnivals, you can make one at home. All you need is a little woodworking skill and the right materials.

Creating the Wheel

The first thing you are going to need to complete this project is supplies. Make sure you have a square sheet of plywood, a 5-foot-long wooden 2x4, a lag bolt, 2-6 washers that will fit over the lag bolt, dowel rods, a scrap piece of rubber tubing, sand and paint. As for tools, you will need a bandsaw, measuring tape, pencil, paintbrush, wood glue and drill.

To start with, obtain a square piece of plywood that is 2-4 feet wide/long. The width of the board depends on how large of a spinning wheel you would like to make. If you would like to make a small, 2-foot diameter wheel, the plywood you use only has to be 2 feet wide. Once you've purchased your board, set it flat on a table or floor, and then trace a 2 or 4 foot circle on its surface. Use a pencil tied to a string, with the string's free end adhered to the board's centre for best results.

Once the board is drawn, use a bandsaw to cut out the circle. Sand the edges after you are done to eliminate any splinters or sharp edges. Find the centre of your circle and drill a hole through the centre that is just slightly larger than a lag bolt you have for this project. The lag bolt will be what the wheel spins on, so you don't want it too tight. After you've finished the basic wheel manufacturing, you can add some fun details. Section up the board into 12 equal pie-shaped pieces. You can do any number of pieces that you want, or that will correlate to the prizes or games that you have and are using the wheel for. Once the wheel is divided, paint each piece a different colour, and add whatever artistic flourishes you would like onto the pieces. Let the wheel dry.

Creating the Stand

While waiting for the paint on the wheel to dry, cut 12 6-inch long pieces and one 3-inch piece off of the dowel rod and paint them in any colour you'd like. These will be the pegs along the outside of the wheel that the rubber tubing will strike. set them aside to dry.

Place your 2x4 flat onto your table or workbench and measure down about 4 inches from the top. Make a mark with your marking utensil on this line. Once the wheel is dry, place the round board on top of the 2x4. Line up the edge of the wheel with the line you made 4 inches down from the top. It is important to make sure that the wheel's centre, where you drilled the hole for the lag bolt, is resting directly over the board. any deviation to the right or left will mess up the project. Once you've centred the board, make a mark on the 2x4 where the hole in the centre of the wheel is. Drill a hole, with a slightly smaller hole than your lag bolt, into the 2x4 piece of wood. Place two washers between the 2x4 and the wheel, where the hole resides. Then place two washers on the top of the hole. With all four washers in place, screw the lag bolt through the wheel and into the 2x4. Don't tighten it as tight as it can go, as you want some give so that the wheel will still be able to spin. Make sure that the wheel spins comfortably.

Use the wood glue to glue each of the 12 six-inch pieces of the dowel rod upright onto the wheel. Place them along the outside circumference between each of the painted sections of the prize wheel. Allow them to dry and become secure on the board. Your rubber tubing will be slapping against them repeatedly, so make sure they are strong. Use small screws or nails if you feel uncertain.

Glue your 3-inch dowel rod onto the four-inch section of the 2x4 that you previously marked off. Center it, and then either screw, glue, or nail your rubber tubing onto the dowel rod, so that it points downward, pointing toward the centre of the prize wheel (as you spin, this should slow the wheel down, and also tell you which prize space you landed on.

Finally, place the 2x4 upright (with the rubber tubing toward the top) into the large flower pot and add the sand to weigh it down, and hold the wood in place. Give the wheel a spin to test it out, and place it in your carnival for a fun game.

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