I built an adult sized hamster wheel to run in.
I cut curved sections out of treated plywood to make the perimeter of the wheel. You can see I’m not working in a very fancy shop.
I used those perimeter plywood boards to align and nail the 2x frame.
I built the frame in 4 segments that could be bolted together to form a circle. This way I could get the wheel out of my basement.
I couldn’t find treated plywood thin enough to be able to bend over the frame that I built. So I used untreated plywood for the inside and outside surfaces and covered everything with a couple coats of paint.
I attached one edge of the plywood to a 2x4 with screws, and then used ratchet straps to wrap the rest of the sheet around the frame.
It was a fun build but had a number of flaws
- The base was not sturdy enough where the cross piece with the wheels mounts. The base pictured here is the second one that I built, and would be better with some diagonals to keep the cross piece from trying to rotate out under load.
- The roller wheels were pretty tough on the plywood in terms of wear, and also it was not very smooth to rotate. I would do rollers that match the length of the larger wheel in a future build - think conveyer belt rollers.
- The wheel is very heavy - this make it harder to start rotating and get to speed.
- The wheel’s plywood surfaces rotted away after a couple of years - they should be made of a treated wood, plastic, etc. instead.
- The wheel itself would flex and make an oval which was not ideal… this could be because of rot, or because the weight of the wheel overcame the strength of the frame as it sat undisturbed for long periods of time causing it to settle into an oval.