It’s round!

by | Sep 23, 2023 | 2 comments

I’ve been getting ready for the wheelbarrow class in a couple weeks, including building some test wheels. Here’s a finished wheel:

Oops! Wrong photo!  Here’s a finished wheel:

Well, at least the wooden parts are done – now it’s off to Peter Ross’s to shrink the tire on. Making wheels is really fun! I’ve learned a lot (I’ve only made a handful of wheels in my life). One of the best ways to learn is by watching people who know what they are doing, and the people who know the most are people working in a centuries-long craft tradition. There may not be wheelwrights like that in the states, I don’t know. Some other cultures tend to hold onto their traditions much longer than highly-industrialized America, so I’ve been video hunting on YouTube. This one made me realize that workbenches are mostly for people who can’t squat – the ground is a better bench than anything we can make:

Pretty amazing work, without many measurements. In fact, there’s so much skill in this video that there’s not much to see; just a guy squatting on the ground, chopping. The way they put the tire on is plenty of show for the whole video, however.

This video was highly enlightening:

The best part is at the 11-minute mark: after chopping the hub mortises and cutting the tapering spoke tenons (complete with locking notches), they boil the hubs in a vat, then drive the spokes into the softened hub. The hub must mold itself to the shape of the spokes, locking the spokes in place. Amazing! Makes me wonder if some of the locking joints that have puzzled me for so long on 18th Century ladderback chairs were boiled in a similar way. I must try it.

I love learning!

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Steve forst
8 months ago

Check out Bill Engle at Engles coach shop on YouTube.

8 months ago

Thanks for posting!

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