Wheelwright: Wikis


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Wheelwrights Workshop at the Amberley Working Museum, West Sussex, England

A wheelwright (or wainwright) is a person who builds or repairs wheels. The word is the combination of "wheel" and the archaic word "wright", which comes from the Old English word "wryhta", meaning a worker or maker.[1] This occupational name eventually became the English surname Wheelwright.

Historically, these tradesmen made wheels for carts and wagons by first constructing the hub, the spokes and the rim/fellows segments and assembling them all into a unit working from the center of the wheel outwards. Most wheels were made from wood but other materials have been used, such as bone and horn, for decorative or other purposes. Around the middle of the 19th century iron strakes were replaced by a solid iron tire custom made by a blacksmith who first measured each wheel to ensure proper fit. Strakes were lengths of iron that were nailed to the outside of wheels to hold wooden wheels together. Strakes were replaced around the mid-1800s by more dependable iron tires that were fastened to the wooden wheel by both the tight fit of the tire/band as well as tire-bolts. Tire-bolts were less likely than tire-nails to break off because they were flush with the wheel's outer surface. During the second half of the 19th century the use of pre-manufactured iron hubs, and other factory-made wood, iron and rubber wheel parts became increasingly common.

In modern times, wheelwrights continue to make and repair a wide variety of wheels, including those made from wood and banded by iron tires. The word wheelwright remains a term usually used for someone who makes and repairs wheels for horse drawn vehicles, even though it is sometimes used to refer to someone who repairs wheels, wheel alignment, rims, drums, discs and wire spokes on modern vehicles such as automobiles, buses and trucks. Wheels for horse-drawn vehicles continue to be constructed and repaired for use by people who use horse-drawn vehicles for farming, Equine (horse) competitions, and presentations of historical events such as reenactments and living history.

See also


  1. ^ Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, ISBN 0-87779-338-7

Further reading

  • Hendrikson, M.C. (1996). The Secrets of Wheelwrighting: Tyres. M.C. and P. Hendrikson. Kariong, N.S.W.. ISBN 0-646-31201-4.  
  • Sturt, George (1923). The Wheelwright's Shop. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-09195-0.  


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also wheelwright


Proper noun




  1. A comparatively rare English occupational surname for someone who made wooden wheels.

Simple English

File:Wheelwright .JPG
New Salem, Illinois

A wheelwright is someone who builds or repairs wheels. In the olden days there were lots of carts. The wheels were made of wood. It was a difficult job to make them, so the cartwright made the cart and the wheelwright did the specialized job of making the wheels. In ancient times some wheels were made of bone in order to look beautiful.

The word wheelwright is not often used for people who make wheels today. Wheels are made in factories and lots of people on the production line each have their bit to do.

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