Wheel of XP

#35 Woodworking | Step Right Up and Spin the Wheel!

64 Arts, Projects

You know you want to!

When my cookbook was finished and ready for its official launch party, I decided I wanted to offer something extra to folks purchasing the book at one of our upcoming events. Since each recipe carries with it a certain number of XP (eXperience Points), I figured it’d be nice to give them some bonus XP to get them started. (And, since it could only be redeemed online, by creating an account on the book’s website, it was also incentive for them to log in and stay connected.)

So was born the Wheel of XP.

Those prize wheels you see at conventions, casinos, trade shows, and other events are really irresistible–you hand just itches to spin the wheel! So first I looked at buying one, figuring I had just enough time to have it shipped before the launch party.

Do you know they want $250 (or more!) for a flimsy plastic version?! Definitely not in my book launch budget, but it can’t be that difficult to DIY one, right? And ours would be better!

Wheel of XP

About 2 weeks before the launch I proposed my plan to Todd, who I’ve already explained is the handyman in this family, and we proceeded to spend that Friday night’s date night traipsing through Lowe’s, looking for all the pieces we’d need.

I was a bag blogger (not really intending on making our own how-to post out of it) and didn’t take copious amounts of photos of the process, but here’s the general idea:

  • 3/4″ plywood, 2 ft square, trimmed down to 18″ x 24″, the back of the wheel
  • 15″ round wooden disk, the wheel of the wheel
  • 1″x4″ cut down into 2-18″ lengths, the legs–though this could also work flat
  • 4 brackets, to hold the legs on and make them removable for easy storage and packing
  • 1 lazy susan mechanism, to make the wheel spin
  • 24 wooden pegs, attached around the outside edge of the wheel, for the flag to thwack through
  • Screws, washers, and nuts for all bits (wing nuts on for the 4 assembly screws make it easier to tighten and loosen without tools)
  • Long carriage bolt, for the flag
  • wood glue for wooden pegs
  • varnish for wood pieces
  • duct tape and a mini playing card for the flag (inelegant, but effective)
  • Paper and markers to make prize signs
  • Hook & Loop tape to make the signs removable (aka Velcro)
  • WD-40 (the wheel needs lubing up for each event)

And do you know what all of that cost us? A whopping $50. (Not including the duct tape, playing card, paper, Velcro, and WD-40 that we already had.)

In the picture above you can see a 1″ hole drilled through the center of the front disk, that’s so we could eventually add another carriage bolt with a round sign (decorated CD) that would stand out enough from the moving parts but not move itself. That part’s still not done yet, but it will be in time for our next show at the end of September. At the one convention we’ve taken it to, so far, though, we had plenty of people come up and ask us what the wheel was for and if they could spin it.

Mission accomplished? I think so.

The tools required for this were a drill and various bits and a table saw or circular saw for the straight cuts. Of course, if all you’ve got is a drill (or it’s all you’re willing to invest in at the moment), most hardware stores will do straight cuts for you at a nominal cost (.25 a cut) or sometimes even free.

Now, we use our wheel the give extra presents to our customers, you may not have such a need, so why is knowing how to build your own prize wheel a useful bit of trivia? Oh, I don’t know, how about for use at a school carnival or carnival-themed birthday party, a prize wheel for your next work fundraiser, or incentives for your kids accomplishing goals. Along that line, you could make one into a chore wheel or a rainy-day fun wheel.