What do you get when you combine a recycled car tire, a piece of cedar, some paint and a smiley-face? A Tire Totter of course—and a great project the whole family can take part in.
Finding the tire was easy. We got it from our local service station—free. A 2x6x8 length of Western Red Cedar, some paint, and a few screws were all available at our local home center.
We used an angle grinder with a metal cutting wheel to cut the tire. A miter saw (a circular or even hand-saw will work too) to cut the wood. We routed the edges with a trim router and drove the screws with our impact drivers (a drill-driver will do fine too.)
The basic gist is easy: cut the tire in half, insert a small board in the open end. Install the Totter Beam on top of the small board, add handles and paint. Here’s the detail if you want to have at it yourself.
\ To accurately measure a round tire with straight tape measure put the tire on the corner of a piece of plywood touching two edges. Measure across the diameter of the tire. Whatever it is, divide it in half, then remove the tire and mark it on the plywood. Square across. Put the tire back and then mark the tire.
\ Now comes the fun part. Load up a 4 ½ inch angle grinder with a metal cutting wheel—and yourself with gloves and goggles—and very carefully cut through the tire. There are steel belts inside the rubber both on the inside rim and at the tread. As you cut through with the grinder, wedge the cut open with a multi-tool or wood shim. Cut the tire from both sides.
Tip: drill a few holes in the bottom of the tire to allow water to drain.
\ Cut a piece of cedar to fit inside the opening of the tire. Fasten with 1-inch flat-head screws.
\ On top of the totter plate, center and install the totter board. You can flip the whole thing over and fasten from the under-side to hide the fastener holes. Use 2 1/2 inch deck screws.
Handle and “Eyes”
\ For the eyes, we used old raquetballs cut in half with a utility knife. We cut little wood blocks that fit inside the half sphere. We then used our narrow crown stapler to staple the block to the Totter, then the ball to the block. Shoot the staple where the pupil of the eye will be to hide it. The handles were off-the-shelf playground pieces we scarfed up at our local Lowes store.
Painting the individual pieces ahead of time and and letting them dry before installation is probably the best, but if your kids are anxious to help—and ours were—make it a paint party because the point of the Tire Totter is fun!