A few years back, I made a Pirate display for a Girl scout function. Part of it was a simple MDF ship's wheel. It had no real depth, because it was supposed to be a decoration only. The how-to post was the link below: http://www.routerforums.com/guide-bu...tml#post287628
This year, our Church's vacation Bible school theme has to do with Lighthouses, so I decided I would make another ship's wheel. This one would be in a well lit foyer, and would probably have hands all over it. A simple 2.5 dimensional wheel just wouldn't do, so I thought I would get a little fancier.
My original idea was to start with a 1" thick MDF wheel and round over the edges, then glue on some circles to the outside to give it dimension. That looked pretty bad, so I came up with another solution. I found some deck railing ballusters that were just the right length and shape to make spokes out of, once I cut out the center bead. I did a little research as I don't know much about the 'new' pressure treatment for deck lumber, and I didn't want little hands touching the wood without a treatment of some kind. Even though the new stuff is no where near as bad as the CCA wood was, I used a Kilz varnish to seal the wood first.
A little sanding with the belt sander, and I had the basics of the wheel. I made the circular portion of the wheel out of MDF, gluing up to the thickness of the ballusters. I then added 1/4 inch MDF circles to the outside to cover the jointery. The router compass I've used for years gave up the ghost halfway through the last circle for the hub, but I was able to salvage it with the sander. I guess 10 years as a circle jig is too much to ask for a piece of 3/8" poplar.
A bunch of paint, a little distressing, and some polyurethane and it was good to go.
I needed a base for it, and PVC pipe just wasn't going to do. I happened upon a cheap yard sale table and it was perfect. A little fence hardware for a bearing, some sisal line for decoration, and I think she's good to go. I added an additional half of an inch between the wheel and the base, to reduce the chance of any little fingers getting caught in between. The table base is pretty stable, I've had to really try to knock it over. Hopefully, this will be able to stand up to a weekend of youngsters!