How to Make a Spinning Wheel Carnival Game

wheel of joy image by Empath from

Remember watching the spinning wheel at a carnival game, hoping it stops on your favorite toy or special prize. Usually, everyone was standing around anticipating what exciting reward will be handed out. Sometimes you played the game over and over again to get the prize you wanted. Re-create that childhood fun again by making a spinning wheel that would be great for birthday parties and other events.

Imagine the fun of this at a family gathering. You make a game with fun tasks to be done before a prize is given. Everyone has a great time and looks forward to the next spin. Make one for yourself with a few basic tools and minimal materials.

Making the Wheel

Mark a piece of 1/4-inch masonite to form a 15-by-15-inch square using a large metal right-angle ruler. Cut it out with a jigsaw. Identify one side as the front and one as the back with a small pencil mark.

Draw a line connecting the opposite corners of the square on the front side of the masonite. Do the same for the other two corners. Where the line crosses is the center.

Put a small screw in the center and attach a sting to it. Tie a pencil to the end of the string and draw a circle to the edges of the square. Remove the screw and cut the circle with the jigsaw.

Tighten a 5/8-inch fostner bit in the drill and put the tip of the bit into the screw hole in the center. Drill a hole through the masonite from the front side. Tap the 5/8-inch bushing into the hole from the back side.

Mark a half inch in from the edge of the circle along each of the four lines coming out from the center. Drill a hole using a 1/4-inch fostner bit at each mark from the front side for the first four pegs.

Divide each space between the pegs in half and mark the next four peg holes a half inch in from the edge. Repeat the same process to get eight more peg holes.

Draw lines to the center on the front from each peg hole. Apply blue painter's tape on either side of opposing triangles and apply acrylic paints to the areas.

Remove the tape once the paint is dry and repeat for the two spaces perpendicular to the first two. Repeat for all of the remaining spaces.

Cut 16 pegs from the 1/4-inch dowel. Each peg should be 1 1/2 inches long. Apply adhesive to each peg and put them into each hole on the painted side. Allow them to dry undisturbed over night.

Making the Stand

Cut a piece of 3/4-inch board 1 1/2 inches wide and 27 inches long. Drill a hole 17 inches up from what will be the bottom of the wheel support. Use a 1/2-inch fostner bit.

Mark a line 1 1/2 inches above the hole. Attach one half of a 1-inch hinge with the body of the hinge below the line. Screw a small eye hook into the same side 6 inches up from the bottom.

Cut the 1/2-inch plywood 18 1/2-by-7-inches. Screw a small eye hook 6 inches up from the bottom. Attach the other half of the hinge to the same side of the board at the center top.

Attaching the Wheel

Put one 1 1/4-inch washer onto the machine screw. Next slip the 3/8-inch nylon spacer onto the screw.

Put this through the nylon bushing in the wheel up to the washer. Add three 1-inch washers to the back side of the wheel over the nylon spacer.

Put the wheel support board over the spacer. Add one 1 1/4-inch washer and then the lock nut. Tighten the lock nut just until it catches.

Gradually tighten the lock nut with a wrench and screw driver. Spin the wheel to test for tightness. Snug the nut, but not so tight that it interferes with the turning of the wheel.

Put the ceiling hook into the vertical support 1 inch above the edge of the wheel. Put the loop of a key fob onto the hook. Trim the fob so that it is just reaching the bottom of a peg. Cut the width of the fob so that it is about three quarters of an inch. Test the spin of the wheel and adjust the fob as needed.

Things You'll Need

  • Smooth masonite, 1/4-inch think
  • Jigsaw
  • Large metal right angle ruler
  • Small wood screw
  • Power drill
  • 5/8-inch fostner bit
  • 5/8-inch nylon bushing with 3/8-inch center opening and 1-inch flange
  • 1/4-inch fostner bit
  • Blue painter's tape
  • Acrylic paints
  • 1/4-inch wood dowel
  • Wood adhesive
  • 3/4-inch thick board
  • 1/2-inch fostner bit
  • 1/2-inch thick plywood
  • 1-inch hinge
  • 2 small eye hooks
  • 3/8-inch nylon spacer; 1-inch long for a No. 10 screw opening
  • No. 10 machine screw; 1 1/2 inches long
  • No. 10 lock nut
  • 2 washers 1 1/4 inches wide with a 3/16-inch opening
  • 3 washers 1-inch wide with a 1/2-inch opening
  • No. 12 ceiling hook
  • Small flexible plastic key fob