Wagon Wheel Picnic Table
Before we sell new plans in our store Jim likes to build a prototype just to ensure all parts are the correct size and also to create a booklet to go with the plan to help describe the steps in building the project.
He worked at it mostly in the evenings when he got a chance. Jim can walk you through the next few steps. I didn’t help until the painting stage.
Hi folks, Jim here. 🙂
I started with drawing out the parts on the computer. Once I had the parts and measurements I set about digging through the scrap pile. I had plenty of 1/2 inch plywood to make the wheel, and I recycled some +thirty year old 2×6 deck joists to make the spokes.
The wheel is comprised of three layers of 1/2 inch thick plywood. In this prototype, each layer requires eight segments, all have to be exactly the same. The easiest way to achieve this is to make a precise template and then duplicate the template as many times as needed.
Below the template is screwed temporarily to a scrap piece of plywood to make the first of twenty four similar parts. One handy tip with having the template on hand, it quickly helps you sort through your scrap pile to pick and choose plywood pieces that you can use.
Next its to the bandsaw to rough cut the part. You could also use a jigsaw.
Then its onto the router station using a flush trim bit, the result is an exact duplicate of the template. Now all you have to do is repeat those steps 23 more times 🙂 I actually make a couple extra, just in case.
Now for the spokes. I made the spokes the same thickness of the 1-1/2 inch thick plywood wheel. I knew I was going to put a glass top on the picnic table, so the spokes will aid in supporting the tempered glass. So you need 8 spokes (although there is room for up to 16 spokes) plus a couple more… just in case. 🙂 The below picture shows how to shape the tenon. The tenon is exactly 1/2 inch thick, fits into the middle layer of the wagon wheel. So what I did was draw a sloped line, making sure the line was positioned correctly. I saved the scrap piece and used it as a guide to shape the underside of the tenon.
Its at this juncture in the project you can decide that your own spoke tenon shape can be different from what I did. Maybe you want to elongate the sloped line, or maybe you want the tenon butt right to the wheel (no slope). If you are building this project, you have the ability to change the design!
So now we position the spokes for fit and placement. The plan that I will be selling to build your own will provide the exact templates for these parts.
A nice tenon fit.
Working on the other end of the spoke that joins to the hub, once again, you can change the tenon design. It can look the same on both ends, or you can make a subtle change.
Its coming along nicely.
The wheel is complete. Now its time to give some attention to the hub.
You have some design options here too. You can build up layers of plywood in varying profiles like I did. Or you could install a lazy susan tray, which can be quite convenient at a picnic table gathering.
With the wheel design complete, it’s time to screw and glue it together.
The photo below shows screw placement.
Here I am adding some glue under the tenons.
As well as a good cover of glue on all contacting parts.
With the wheel complete, I took the time to pay attention to smaller details, like rounding the inside edges of the wheel using a router.
I have a scrap pile of copper pipe in the workshop. I got the idea that the wheel might look really cool it the wheel ‘tread’ area was copper. I priced sheet copper. Even got a quote for strips of copper for my exact needs… WOW. Can’t afford that. Time to dig into the scrap pile. I cut the short end off of this pipe. Then I split open the piece of pipe and hammered it flat.
It… was… a… lot… of… work. I decided I didn’t have the time now to do all the copper. But I still wanted to do a proof of concept. So I carried through and sized the piece.
Then I bent over the edges using pliers to form a small lip.
I think it would look awesome. Maybe some winter if I have 2-3 days to spend hammering out copper pieces, I might add this to the project. But for now, this was the idea I had in my head.
Next up: the seating. First, the easy way would be to cut some plywood circles, screw them on the frame and call it a day. But I wanted to put some tractor seats on the table. I have some old cast steel tractor seats collecting dust in the shop, they were the inspiration. But I wanted to make tractor seats from wood. It starts with glueing up the blanks. I used whatever scrap wood I had on hand to make up the 16×16 inch blanks.
Then it was time to trace the seat patterns (which will be included in the project plans) onto the wood surface. Pictured below I am cutting out the seat shapes.
Next, drill the holes in the seat blank.
This seat is all done. This project will include two different seat designs. You might want to use one or the other, or both like I did.
Onto the second seat design. Safety equipment is an important part, especially when it comes to using power carving tools. For the elongated shapes, I drilled holes on each end, then cut away the remaining with a jig saw.
I use an ArborTech carving blade on the grinder to quickly remove and shape the seat.
Its a very easy tool to use. This was my first time using it and it only took about five minutes to complete the task.
Along with the two tractor seats I toyed with the idea of a saddle seat. So the item you see below on the right is a mock up of a wooded saddle I made. For the most part its comfortable to sit on but the design needs some tweaking so I’ll put that project aside for now and continue with the tractor seats.
We decided to stain the seats, but we wanted to dip them in the stain rather than use a brush. I built a box, lined it with plastic, and poured the stain in the box.
Then each tractor seat was dipped into the stain. Then flipped over to stain the other side.
Here are the four seats all stained and set aside to dry. All total it took less than 5 minutes to stain the 4 seats, which is a significant time savings when compared to brushing by hand.
The next step was painting. We decided on two tone paint for the base. Grey for the frame and white for the wagon wheel.
After the wagon wheel had two coats on it, I took the sander to it to make it smooth to the touch and also give it a worn look.
Here it is assembled.
Tempered glass is on order for the top. That will require 3-4 weeks to arrive.
Thanks for reading.