Balancing a circle of wood.

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NCGrimbo

NCGrimbo
Corporate Member
My brother and I are working on a prize wheel. I cut the circle out of some left over funiture grade plywood using a circle jig and a router. The circle came out perfect with one problem. When it's mounted vertically and spun, it always stops at the same point due to the weight being uneven. I've drilled out some of the wood at the "low" point when the wheel is stopped, but it's not making a difference.

Does anyone know a way to balance the circle so that it is as close to truely random as possible?

Thanks.

NCGrimbo
 

Joe Scharle

Joe
Corporate Member
Depends on whether the wheel is 200 feet high or just 2 inches across. We need info in order to make intelligent guesses. And pictures will get more interest too.
 

Charles Lent

Charley
Corporate Member
I was once involved in making 2' diameter "spoked" wheels for fire company carnival games of chance.. These had to be balanced too. We started by taping nails to the edge of the high side until it was balanced as close as we could get, then we drilled holes in the edge at that area and pressed the nails in. A second balancing and the addition of a few more nails made them about perfect. We used finish nails so the heads could be recessed and plugged easily.

Charley
 

bash

New User
bash
Can you mount it horizontally? That will be more forgiving to slight imbalances as the effect of gravity favoring a particular spot will be minimized.
 

Sully

New User
jay
Assuming that you will not see the back side of the wheel you could attach hanger bolts at equally spaced angles near the edge on the back side. Attach washers with nuts to each bolt and recheck for balance. By removing washers from one bolt or series of bolts (and possibly adding them to other bolts) you can quickly balance the wheel.

J
 

pviser

paul
Corporate Member
Depending upon how much effort you want to expend, the ideal wheel will not only be balanced, but also be:

1. as large as possible (i.e. diameter)
2. as frictionless as possible by getting a sealed bearing, removing the seals, dissolving the grease with carburetor cleaner, then lubricating with a low-viscosity oil
3. as heavy as possible, especially concentrated along the outer rim

That could be a fun project. Good luck.
 

manfre

New User
Manfre
Assuming that you will not see the back side of the wheel you could attach hanger bolts at equally spaced angles near the edge on the back side. Attach washers with nuts to each bolt and recheck for balance. By removing washers from one bolt or series of bolts (and possibly adding them to other bolts) you can quickly balance the wheel.

J
This is probably the most efficient way of balancing it. Make sure you balance it after painting/finishing.
 

jarrett

New User
Jarrett
Another thought is to use those weights that are used to balance out tires. You can probably look up DIY tire balancing guides for some techniques as well--should be a similar process.
 

Jeff

Jeff
Corporate Member
My guess is friction between the vertically mounted wheel and some sort of horizontal shaft/axle that it spins on. What kind of mechanism are you using for this connection? A roller skating or skate boarding wheel/bearing might be a good thing to consider for smoother operation. Ceramic bearings perform much smoother than steel bearings because there's less heat build-up from friction (they're also harder and don't require lubrication).

You'll still have to do some balancing for fine tuning.

These have an Allen set screw to attach the axle and they're pretty cheap.

McMaster-Carr











My brother and I are working on a prize wheel. I cut the circle out of some left over funiture grade plywood using a circle jig and a router. The circle came out perfect with one problem. When it's mounted vertically and spun, it always stops at the same point due to the weight being uneven. I've drilled out some of the wood at the "low" point when the wheel is stopped, but it's not making a difference.

Does anyone know a way to balance the circle so that it is as close to truely random as possible?

Thanks.

NCGrimbo
 

bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
Does anyone know a way to balance the circle so that it is as close to truely random as possible?
I did one of those years back and found that the balancing took more time than it did to make the wheel.

I just taped on a bunch of junk like bolts, nuts, whatever, with masking tape. When I got things going better, I weighed the whole mess and got a matching amount of lead plus some. I melted the lead in a puddle, drilled the results and screwed it on. It was more flush than a wheel balancing chuck would have been.
 

NCGrimbo

NCGrimbo
Corporate Member
Depends on whether the wheel is 200 feet high or just 2 inches across. We need info in order to make intelligent guesses. And pictures will get more interest too.
Sorry I forgot to post that. The diameter of the wheel is 30" and the thickness of the plywood is 3/4".

Can you mount it horizontally? That will be more forgiving to slight imbalances as the effect of gravity favoring a particular spot will be minimized.
We looked at mounting it horizontally, but I didn't have enough spacers to keep the wheel elevated off the stand.

My guess is friction between the vertically mounted wheel and some sort of horizontal shaft/axle that it spins on. What kind of mechanism are you using for this connection? A roller skating or skate boarding wheel/bearing might be a good thing to consider for smoother operation. Ceramic bearings perform much smoother than steel bearings because there's less heat build-up from friction (they're also harder and don't require lubrication).

You'll still have to do some balancing for fine tuning.

These have an Allen set screw to attach the axle and they're pretty cheap.

McMaster-Carr
At the center of the wheel is a sealed bearing. Without the flapper that slows the wheel, if I spin the wheel, it will spin for 15 minutes without any wobble. So I can say that the wheel is spinning true and it is not warped.

Sounds like the concensus is to add weight at the point opposite the heavy side and spin until I get it balanced.

Thanks for all the responses.

-NCGrimbo
 
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