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How to Make a Prize Wheel With a Diagram

A derivation of a prize wheel you can make at home.
wheel of joy image by Empath from Fotolia.com

If you're putting on a backyard carnival, or even something a little more formal and large-scale, one of the essential games is a prize wheel, where you spin a large wheel and whatever the wheel's marker lands on is the resulting prize. A homemade prize wheel can be made cheaply and easily if you have the right tools and equipment. One of the essential tools is a diagram of the prize wheel set up to help you with assembly.

Building the Wheel

Print out and study the diagram of the prize wheel that can be found in the resources section. Use this to base your project on.

Tie a 16-inch piece of string to a pencil. On the opposite side of the string, tie the end to a tack or nail. Press the nail into the exact center of your piece of plywood. Use the ruler or yardstick (which might work better) to find the center. Once in place, pull the string taut and draw a perfect circle on the top of your wood. Once it's drawn, remove the string and nail.

Use whatever saw you feel most comfortable with to cut out your circular template. Sand the edges of your wheel to ensure that there are no splinters.

Divide the wheel up into 12 equal pie shapes. Using the ruler or yardstick, draw 6 straight lines from one edge of the wheel to the other, spreading each of the lines out evenly. They should all intersect in the center of the wheel.

Do something to individualize the different wedges. Paint each a different color, for example.

Cut your dowel rod(s) into 12 equal parts, each measuring approximately 6 inches. Use your wood glue to glue each of the rods onto the edge of the wheel -- on the line between two adjacent sections of board. If you feel the need to secure them more firmly, drill a screw through the bottom of the board up into the dowel rod.

In the center of the wheel, where your 6 lines intersect, and where you placed the nail to use your string/pencil, drill a hole through the wood. The hole should be wider than the body of the lag bolt you are going to use, but still small enough that the head of the bolt won't fall through.

Building the Stand

Set the 1-by-2-by-24 pieces and the 1-by-1.5-by-32 piece of wood on a table. They should be in parallel lines, and their edges should be about 4.5 inches from the next board. The longer board should be in the middle. Make sure their top edges (the 2-inch and 1.5-inch long edge are lined up together so they are in a straight line -- this will mean that the longer board sticks out 8 inches more than the other two.

Apply wood glue generously to the top of the three strips of wood, and place the 2-by-10-by-15 piece of wood on top of all three of them. Make sure that you place the board as shown in the diagram, with the 15-inch side spanning all three strips of wood, and then the 10-inch side 7 inches from the top and 7 inches from the bottom of the edge pieces. When flipped over, the wood will resemble a ribcage. Allow the glue ample time to dry.

Use your nail gun or hammer and nails to nail the base board onto the wooden strips. Do this for added support. Try to put about three nails into every wooden strip.

Drill a small pilot hole into the middle of your baseboard (the 2-by-10-by-15 piece). Use a measuring tape, ruler or yardstick to make sure you have the center. This will help position the wheel on when you assemble it, and also allow the lag bolt to make a clean, straight entry when screwed in.

Screw your small piece of wood (0.75-by-1.5-by-4.5) onto the longer end of your middle wood strip. Position it so that it points upward (4.5 inches up), and 0.75 inches wide. (Have the 0.75-inch side touch the 1.5-inch end of the center strip.)

Screw or nail your piece of rubber onto the wood from last step. Have it so that it is pointing inward, toward the center of the baseboard. It needs to be long enough so that when the wheel spins, it flaps against the dowel rods and is still able to slow the wheel down.

Put two washers over the pilot hole in your base board. Put the assembled wheel on top, making sure that the rubber piece doesn't bend under the wheel. Put two more washers on top of the hole in the center of the wheel, and then screw in your lag bolt through the hole. Make sure that the bolt isn't too tight or the wheel won't spin, and make sure that it's not too loose that it wobbles continuously. Fine-tune your tightening, and give it a spin.

Things You'll Need:

  • Diagram of prize wheel assembly
  • 1 piece of plywood, measuring 1-by-35-by-35 inches
  • 2 pieces of wood, measuring 1-by-2-by-24 inches
  • Piece of wood, measuring 1-by-1.5-by-32 inches
  • Piece of wood, measuring 2-by-10-by-15 inches
  • Small piece of scrap wood, measuring 0.75-by-1.5-by-4.5 inches
  • Lag bolt
  • Hammer and nails (or nail gun)
  • Wood glue
  • 2 to 6 washers
  • Paint
  • 6 feet of dowel rods
  • Drill and drill bits
  • Saw
  • Small piece of rubber
  • String
  • Ruler or yardstick
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