Steering wheel restoration
When I bought my car the steering wheel plastic was so bad that one c
ould take their hand and twist the crumbling plastic off the rim.
Fillers and plastics were useless so I decided to make a wood rimmed wheel.
First I made two 17 1/2" square "picture frames" out of 1/2" thick x 4"
solid walnut. The eight (four for each frame) 1/2" x 4" X 17 1/2" pieces
were cut at a 45 degree angle on each end and glued together using a frame
clamp Next I laid the wheel on the frames and traced the rim and spokes on
the walnut so that the corners of the frames were half way between the
spokes. I used a router to cut a groove for the rim and chiseled out a
chase for the spokes so that the two frames would fit together with the
wheel sandwiched between them.
Before gluing the two frames together, with the wheel sandwiched between,
I cut the length of the spoke sections to their final approximate lengths.
I used high quality exterior glue. Instead of clamping I set the frames
on the floor and piled about 2000 pounds on top of the assembly. If you
have enough clamps they will work just as well.
After the glue set I used a jig saw to cut around the outside and inside
of the wheel a little larger than the final dimensions. Not having a lathe
large enough to chuck the wheel, I mounted it on a shaft and let it hang
out of the end of a lathe and used a cutting tool supported on a bench to
shape the outside of the wheel. The inside of the wheel and spokes were
shaped by using wood files and chisels. With final sanding the wheel was
ready for finishing.
I bleached the walnut and then stained it to match my original dash. The
final finish consisted of three coats of polyurethane. I used pumice and
oil to give the wheel a satin finish. If desired, the wheel could be
painted black to make it look like a plastic wheel.