The method described below works perfectly for wheels that are smaller than 3" in diameter. For larger wheels we recommend the article How to Easily Make 3" or Larger Perfect Wood Toy Wheels.
How to Make Perfect Small (under 3")
Wheels for Wood Toys
Above: Using the Trucks from Build Big Wood Toy Trucks as an example we'll detail the steps to make the 2-3/8" wheels using a 2-1/2" hole saw. These instructions are also included in the book.
Above: Reference photo for Steps 1 - 3. Use your hand-held electric drill to easily make perfect wood toy wheels.
Step 1: Tightly clamp 3/4” thick wood stock to your work top. Two clamps work best to hold the wood stock firmly in place to prevent pivoting. Go to Step 2.
Step 2: Place a 2-1/2” diameter hole saw in your hand drill and tighten the chuck securely. The hole saw makes a 1/8” groove as it cuts and produces a 2-3/8” diameter wheel. Go to Step 3.
Step 3: Keep the drill at a 90 degree angle with the wood stock and begin pushing the hole saw gently into the wood. Do not saw all the way through the wood. Stop the saw when it is 1/8” from breaking through to prevent the wood from splintering. To gauge the depth make a Stop Mark with a marker that is 5/8” up from the bottom of the saw teeth. Go to Step 4.
Above: Reference photo for Step 4. Two-sided hole saw cuts create a quality wheel with no splintering or tear-out.
Step 4: Unclamp the wood stock. Turn it over and reclamp the wood stock to the work top. Insert the hole saw drill bit into the hole created by the first cut. Gently cut through the remaining stock. Stop sawing when you feel the wheel cut free from the wood stock. Go to Step 5.
Above: Refererence photo for Step 5.
Step 5: Unplug the hand drill. Remove the wheel from the hole saw. If the wheel is stuck insert a screw driver or dowel rod in the holes in the sides of the hole saw and push the wheel free from the hole saw. Go to Step 6.
Above: Reference photo for Step 6.
Step 6: Insert a fully threaded bolt into the wheel hole that is the wheel hole size. Tighten a nut securely on the back side. Go to Step 7.
Above: Reference photo for Step 7.
Step 7: Clamp the hand drill to your work top with the new wood wheel and bolt tightened securely in the drill chuck. With the drill operating use a sanding block to add a soft radius to each edge of the wheel and to flatten the wheel’s rolling surface. Remove the threaded bolt and nut from the wheel. The axle hole is then drilled to size using the hole saw drill hole as a line-up guide. It's fun to experiment with different thicknesses of wood for special effects!
To make wheels larger than 3" in diameter see the article How to Easily Make 3" or Larger Perfect Wood Toy Wheels. To make perfect wood toyaxle holes for your wheels see the article Learn to Make Perfect Wood Toy Axle Holes.