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Bucket Wheel How-To

Bucket wheels are great for hedgehogs. There is no threat of injury that the wire wheels have. They are easy to clean. They are virtually silent. Finally: They are rather easy to build.

Supplies

You will need the following items:

  • A clean 5-gallon plastic bucket. It should not be very flexible.
  • The stand:
    • A 3/4" PVC pipe at least 3 feet long.
    • Four 90-degree elbow joins for your PVC pipe.
    • A T-joint for your PVC pipe.
    • A cap for your PVC pipe.
  • The spinning joint:
    • An inline skate or scooter wheel with the bearing still in it.
    • A 1/4" bolt that is at least 2-1/2" long. (Ensure that the bold fits through the bearing in the wheel.)
    • A locknut for your bolt.
    • Three washers for your bolt.
    • Four 1/2" pan-head screws.
  • Tools:
    • A sharp knife or box cutter. A pipe cutter for the PVC tube will be nice.
    • Measuring tape or a ruler.
    • A permanent marker.
    • A power drill.
    • A screwdriver.
    • 220 grit sandpaper.

Preparing the Bucket

Mark a line all the way around the bottom of the bucket about 5-1/4" from the bottom of the bucket. Try making multiple dots at 5-1/4" from the bottom, then connect the dots to make one continuous line. Use a knive or box cutter to cut the top of the bucket away, leaving your bucket wheel.

Drill a 1/4" hole for your bolt to go through the very center of the bottom of the bucket. If your bolt is not 1/4", use the appropriate width. It is hard to hit the exact center, but being off just a tiny bit will create a wobbly wheel.

Drill four tiny holes around the main hole in the center. These should be at a distance just right so when you put screws through the holes, the screws will go into the soft part of your wheel. Avoid drilling through the raised ring if there is one - it is required to avoid cracking.

Attaching the Wheel

Place your wheel against the outside bottom of the bucket. Insert the bolt and temporarily attach the locknut to keep the wheel from moving. Screw the wheel to the bucket with your four pan-head screws. The head of the screw should be inside the bucket, screwing into the wheel on the outside bottom of the bucket. If you loosen the locknut, the wheel should spin easily.

The Stand

Cut your PVC pipe into six pieces: two 4" pipes, two 5" pipes, and two 9" pipes. Place the T-joint between the two 4" pipes (combined, they should be about 9" long). Make a rectangle using the two 5" pipes on the short sides and the cobined 4" pipes for one long side and a 9" pipe for the other long side. Complete the rectangle with the four 90-degree bends. With the rectangle on the floor, rotate the T-joint so it points upward. Place the remaining 9" pipe in the T-joint. Place the cap on the end of the 9" pipe. Once you are happy with your stand, glue all of the joints.

Remove the bolt from your bucket so you have a clear hole through the wheel's bearings. Place the wheel against the stand such that it is not touching the floor. Make a dot through the hole in the bearings to mark where you need a hole in the stand. Drill a 1/4" hole through the stand where your marked it.

Completing the Project

Place a washer on the bolt. Put the bolt through the inside of the bucket, through the bearings. Place the remaining washers on the bolt so they will rest between the wheel and the stand. Push the bolt through the stand. Place the locknut on the bolt. If the wheel rubs the stand, add another washer between the wheel and the stand.

Sand all edges. Sharp edges are dangerous. You may also want to sand the inside of the bucket to make it easier for your hedgehog to grip.