After the frustrating progress from Chapter 9, and while hunting down an electric motor, I decided to concentrate on something I can move forward with… the steering wheel. There wasn’t anything stopping me so I jumped in with both feet.

If you remember back in Chapter 8 we cut out the rough shape, so here I busted out my trusty Dremel and went to town. With this step I recruited my oldest son to come over and help me. In typical fashion his attention span was short lived, but it was nice to get the help.


Jake getting some great first time experience with a Dremel.

Gradually we rounded the corners off, and carefully brought down the depth of the three spokes of the wheel. While we were working the mailman stopped by to drop off a package. He looked at the kart, looked at me, then looked back at the kart.

In somewhat broken English he asked “Is that an airplane?“.

I was tempted to say yes and tell him her maiden flight would be the next morning, but I was afraid he would believe me and call the FAA.. then we’d have a balloon boy situation on our hands. “No, it’s a go kart… for the boys.

He then said “Well, you could put wings on it!” I looked at him and thought “Are you serious? Yeah, I could also put a propeller on it, but I’m not gonna do that either!” but just asked him “Do you have a box for me?“.

So we continued on with the Dremel work for a bit more.  After some time we dug in with some 80 grit sand paper work to smooth out the rough edges. I was seriously tempted to form out some finger ridges but figured I’ve got a bit too much into this project already. The dog is getting ignored, I have a ton of things to do around the house…my wife pointed out that 4 light bulbs were out,  but alas here I am working on the go kart. Priorities I tell you!

After I finished up the rough sanding with the 80 grit we then moved onto 220 for a bit. It was really coming out nicely. At this point I realized just how soft and easy to work with Pine is. It’s really very soft, almost malleable, and is just really forgiving.


The final result of an afternoon of a Dremel and some sanding.

With the progress pretty far along I thought I’d share it with the other boys and my wife. They were really impressed, with my wife saying that I’m quite the carpenter. I wouldn’t go quite that far but hey, I’ll take it.

My wife then held the wheel in her hand and said “Wow, ya know the boys are gonna have a nicer car than me!” Ah, c’mon … As if I could build a go kart that could compete with a ’78 Pinto wagon!

Next I masked off the perimeter, or grip, of the wheel with tape and newspaper. I will be staining this part and will paint the spokes and hub. Before I can do that though I hit the entire exposed area with some primer sealer.  This was white so the entire wheel, except the outer grip was now a flat white color.


Our wheel all primered up.

After a day of drying I then liberally applied a coat of metallic silver to the spokes and center. I wasn’t so particular about the center, but wanted the spokes to be silver. After this dried I’ll then come back and paint the hub.

After another day of letting the now silver spokes dry, I then masked off the spokes as well as a 1/4″ line around the hub. The exposed area left I then hit with a coat of black paint. My goal here was to give the impression that the spokes were metal, and the center would be a simple black. Some nice bolts will finish it off once mounted. I’m probably putting far too much thought into this, but what the heck. If I’m going to do this I might as well give it my all right?


With the silver paint dry, we masked off except the hub.

It was a somewhat cool day so after I shot the silver paint I brought the wheel into my home office to dry.

My wife came to ask me a question and I guess i didn’t quite realize how bad the fumes were. She opened the door and said “Whoa, what are you doing in here? I can’t even step in the fumes are so bad.” I guess I didn’t realize it was so bad. “Now that you mention it I do kinda have a headache.” I said. A friend suggested I just tell her it’s a new aromatherapy product.

After that dried I removed all of the masking. So far it looked pretty good. Not perfect but still pretty good. It almost had a “folk art” look to it…neat and detailed, but still having an obvious handmade look to it with rough bits here and there.


With the silver dry, I hit the hub with black.

With the painted part now, well painted, I set my sights on the staining of the grip. I grabbed an old rag and a can of stain I already had and tested a spot on some scrap. The scrap looked good so I guess it’s good enough for the wheel.

At this point our black paint we applied on the hub had dried for a couple of days, so I removed all the masking revealing our bare wood grip.

Next I then applied just a bit of masking around the edge our silver spokes where it meets the grip. I did this so I wouldn’t get wood stain onto the spokes. In all likelihood the stain wouldn’t penetrate the silver paint, but better safe than sorry right?

So I wouldn’t stain my hands in the process, I put on a surgical glove, grabbed a rag, and started staining. It’s been a while since I’ve stained any wood and I had forgotten just how fast it goes.


The grip stained and drying out.

I stained all of the outer surface and hung it up to dry. After a few days I took a very very light sand paper to it, then stained it some more. Although it looked pretty good, had I not already had this stain I probably would have preferred something a bit lighter in color, but all in all it looked pretty slick. Especially knowing that this was simply for a go kart!

After letting another few days go by  (as a side note, waiting is sometimes the hardest part of this whole project) I was ready to add a nice coat of lacquer to the stain.

Now that it was all dry to the touch, I again masked off all except the outer grip.  I then applied a coat of high gloss lacquer in a spray can and let it dry for a few days.


Our final lacquered wheel. Ooooh, shiny!

Once dried, I hit it with some more very light sand paper, and then applied a second coat of lacquer. The end result is a really nice high gloss stained wheel reminiscent of the open wheel racers of the ’20s and ’30s.

This definitely makes me want to get into the finish work on the rest of the cart, but not so fast… I have yet to hunt down an electric motor


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