Custom wheel

Jawramik

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 3, 2021
Messages
57
Hello again! I've been having the worst luck with shipping for some of the supplies for my chin. Last week the beautiful ceramic litter box I'd ordered got lost....and yesterday I learned that the Chin Spin I ordered has also been lost in transit. 🤦‍♀️

I mentioned these frustrations in passing to a family friend...and she has graciously offered to make a custom wheel for my girl! Now, I realise that I could just order another wheel and I'd almost certainly have it before my friend could make one from scratch, but I like the idea of being able to support a friend's business instead of giving more money to Amazon, so I'm inclined to take her up on the offer.

My friend is an experienced wood and metal-worker. She's used those skills professionally for many years for both industrial and artistic applications. She's made exercise wheels for her daughter's pets in the past (hamsters and rats), and even made a giant one for a cat a while back, so I'm confident she can make something wonderful and safe for my Margaret. That said, this would be the first wheel she's made for a chin.

I sent her the specs for the Chin Spin, since it seems like the dimensions of that wheel are probably about right for my chin (I've come to realise that my girl is not a small chin, so I want to be sure it's big enough for her).

Materials will primarily be either aspen or pine wood, though I've asked if she could make the running surface metal for ease of cleaning. She asked what type of metal I wanted.....and I'm honestly not sure what's best. She suggested aluminum. Would that be all right, or would it be better to go with stainless steel? Are there any metals that should be avoided?

I know that the running surface needs to be solid (no holes or mesh) and that the wheel needs to be open, with no cross beams or anything. I know it should be around 15-16" in diameter and have a 5-6" wide running surface. Should the running surface be textured to help her get traction? I noticed that some wheels have some ridges or texture on the running surface while others don't, so I'm not sure how important it is.

Does anyone have any experience making/using custom wheels? How did it work out for you? Got any pointers for me and my friend as we embark on this project?
 

Amethyst

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
May 7, 2012
Messages
2,610
Location
Alberta
I've never made a wheel myself, but I've seen various DIY wheels. Aluminum can work so long as it's thick enough, keep in mind it's a light soft metal so it's easily bendable as well as can damage more easily if your chin decides to chew on it. Stainless steel is more durable but also heavier so it would need to be thin or it can be too heavy for a chin to run on it. It seems to depend on the chin if a smooth surface works for them or not, but if possible I would go with textured or at least more of a rough not polished finish to reduce the risk of slipping. Personally I prefer the all metal wheels, the wood runs the risk of getting peed on, as well as if you ever get a fungal infection like ringworm all wood has to be thrown away, and if the wheel is part wood that includes the wheel too. A popular thing to use for DIY wheels are 16" cake pans or utility/oil pans.

Another word of advice, since they have made wheels before they likely already know but, a wheel is only as quiet as the bearings you use, in case that is a concern. Some DIY use lazy susan bearings and I had one as the first wheel for my chins, it was LOUD and sounded like paint mixer, I would have to leave the room to talk on the phone.
 

Jawramik

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 3, 2021
Messages
57
I've never made a wheel myself, but I've seen various DIY wheels. Aluminum can work so long as it's thick enough, keep in mind it's a light soft metal so it's easily bendable as well as can damage more easily if your chin decides to chew on it. Stainless steel is more durable but also heavier so it would need to be thin or it can be too heavy for a chin to run on it. It seems to depend on the chin if a smooth surface works for them or not, but if possible I would go with textured or at least more of a rough not polished finish to reduce the risk of slipping. Personally I prefer the all metal wheels, the wood runs the risk of getting peed on, as well as if you ever get a fungal infection like ringworm all wood has to be thrown away, and if the wheel is part wood that includes the wheel too. A popular thing to use for DIY wheels are 16" cake pans or utility/oil pans.

Another word of advice, since they have made wheels before they likely already know but, a wheel is only as quiet as the bearings you use, in case that is a concern. Some DIY use lazy susan bearings and I had one as the first wheel for my chins, it was LOUD and sounded like paint mixer, I would have to leave the room to talk on the phone.
Thanks so much for your reply, as always. :)

I think we'll probably go with aluminum for the running surface, and I'll tell her to add some little ridges or something for traction. I don't want it to get too heavy.

I can certainly ask her about making it all metal. The wheels she's made in the past were all wood, but she's a very skilled metal-worker, so she may be able to make it all metal. I'm not too worried about peeing, because Margaret is pretty good about using the litterbox, but I hadn't considered stuff like ringworm.

I'm not too concerned about the noise level since Margaret's cage isn't in my bedroom. But my friend said that the wheels she made in the past were very quiet, so it seems like she knows what to do to keep them quiet.
 

Jawramik

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 3, 2021
Messages
57
We've decided to stick with wood for everything but the running surface. My friend is willing to try making an all-metal one, but she wants to do a little experimenting first. She's already started on the wood one and will hopefully have it finished next week! Then she'll experiment with all-metal designs, and Margaret can either have a wheel on each level of her cage, or we'll give her whichever one she seems to prefer and save the second one as a backup.
 

Latest posts

Top