Saving an Aluminum Wheel

People often ask if the X-Carve is up to milling aluminum and even when people do take it on, most projects are small flat objects using small bits. My son recently purchased a “classic” 1983 pickup (I call it old) that has non-stock wide aluminum wheels. He had a flat tire on it and when he re-installed it, the threads of the wheel nuts started to pull out. A day or two later, the few studs holding the wheel on broke and the wheel was released. It rattled around on the wheel hub for a bit, and trashed the rear surface of the wheel so it wouldn’t sit flat on the truck again.

It would be almost impossible to find a matching wheel so we started brainstorming how to adequately resurface the wheel flange. The wheel is 11 inches wide so it won’t fit under the X-Carve… or will it! I pulled the waste board and lower frame off of the X-Carve, and then blocked up the Y Rails 10 inches using some scrap wood. I could have used a 2x10.

I ended up being just a little too tall so the router bit couldn’t get to the surface. I lifted the wheel on a piece of plywood, and then secured everything with a judicious amount of hot melt glue. I quickly drew up a donut in VCarve and set to mill a pocket with a 1/4" bit, 0.01 inch passes, at 40 inches/min. I installed a brand new 1/4" two flute straight bit and got to milling.

Although there was chatter at 5 and 11 oclock as the router was running circles around the face, everything went very smooth. The last pass I put counter clockwise pressure on the router by hand and the chatter was greatly minimized. Afterwards, you could see and slightly feel milling marks, the spindle is probably not perfectly square with the table. However, we were able to hit the surface with a RO Sander and in short order have the marks gone and after we chamfered the lug holes, the tire shop won’t have any idea the wheel was repaired.

I’m posting this as encouragement for all those X-Carvers out there worried about your machine’s ability… Put it to use. It is likely way more capable than you give it credit for!



Excellent job. thinking outside the box and getting great results.

did you check the wheel carve surface to the parallel of the wheel itself.
If it is not straight the wheel will wabble.

He was thinking inside the box, but first he had to build it and then put the wheel into it.
A nice bit of creative thinking to be sure

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No I didn’t. If I had a big metal lathe, I could have chucked the wheel, used a dial indicator to ensure the bead ran true, then faced the mounting surface… But, instead of that, I have an XCarve. However, I don’t expect any issues. Based on how my XCarve ran before I put the truck lift kit on it, and based on my experience as a woodworker, I don’t expect the XCarve to be more than 1/64" (15 thou) out of alighment side to side, or back to back across the entire 1000 mm distance. As I was milling 7", that is about 1/5 of the travel so the wobble would be 1/5 of the 15 thou, or 3 thousands of an inch across the mounting face. Since I basically was indexing off of the front face of the wheel, the mounting face and the front wheel face should be planar within that 3 thousands of an inch. Expanding out across the entire diameter of the wheel (15 inches), I’d be just slightly over 6 thou of wobble
I don’t have emperical proof, but I’d bet there is a good percentage of wheels going down the road with much worse tolerances, especially after the driver hits a curb or two. :grin:

I MAY be sorely disappointed, but I’m hoping it lets us avoid a $600 purchase to find cheap matching wheels considering we only have just over $2K in the truck now.


Slap the wheel on the truck while it is jacked up in the air and see how much run out there is if any while spinning.

Install that rim on the vehicle (with or without tire) and take your dial indicator place it on the floor and make sure it is stable, then place the dial on the bead of the rim (first on the inside then on the outside) measure the radial run-out, this is the most important measurement for what you have done. then if you want place the dial on the outer surface of the rim and measure the lateral run-out, this one should not be effected from where you milled but it would not hurt to check while you are there. if all is with-in specs you are good to go.

Recently discovered constant radius wheels…:sunglasses:

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Wow with a horse like ride!

One trick is to face the block you clamp the wheel to with the machine first. If you machine a circular groove in the clamping board the wheel can be made concentric and parallel. even if the machine is a little off. Set your zero to of the spindle to zero of the wheel.