Fabricating a Drive Wheel Axle

      Metalworking advice for making bandsaw mill parts. May 13, 2009

I am getting ready to order some metal and need to know what type of bar stock material to order for the drive wheel axle. I want something strong enough to handle the job but workable enough to cut a key slot for the engine belt drive pulley. Any suggestions guys?

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor Y:
You could use an axle and just cut to length.

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From contributor W:
You need a spindle setup that is pre-loaded for axial and radial thrust. They are designed with either angular contact ball bearings or taper roller bearings. The ultimate goal of a spindle is to have zero play while under load at normal operating temperatures both axial and radial. Do some Google searches or contact Cooks. There are a lot of suppliers out there that manufacture spindle assemblies. Also never over grease a spindle. Too much grease will create heat and burn the bearings up as with any other bearing applications.

From contributor G:
Recommend at least a shaft diameter of 1.25 inches (or larger). Pillow block bearings are used on many mills (mine included) and do not cause any problems and will last for years. If you have a good guide system, there is very little, if any, linear pressure on bearings.

From contributor Y:
Spherical roller pillow block bearings are superior when dealing with high loads and loads that require tolerance to shock.

From contributor Y:
I've never heard of any pillow block bearings causing any problems on any mills.

From contributor N:
1144 stressproof does good and doesnít warp when the keyways are cut. Machine-ability is pretty good.

From contributor B:
A friend made mine and used a shaft from an old hydraulic cylinder. I found an old ford axle that I was going to use but was told it was hardened steel and he couldnít turn it down and put in a keyway. So he cut the hub off and welded (and pinned ) it to the hydraulic shaft.

From contributor Y:
You can cut an axle like this.

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They can be turned down.

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Then you can cut a new spline.

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From contributor D:
Why couldnít you use a PTO driveline? They are made to order at your local truck part supply. You can order them with the splines that you require. Bring them the old unit and ask if they can make one like it or better.

From contributor B:
Guess you taught me something. I know nothing about metals. The guy that made my shaft showed me several lathe cutters he broke trying, and I then asked the guys that run the machine shop about cutting one down and they said they couldnít cut it because of the hardened steel? Oh well I guess some people canít bend wood either.

From contributor Y:
You can heat the steel using a torch until it becomes a white hot color and this will cause the steel to lose its hardening.

Also you might want to use Cubic Boron Nitride cutting tools for machining hardened steel components in the range of 45 to 65 HRc which is the hardness of an axle.

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