Sunday, March 16, 2014

Build Your Own Sugar Glider Exercise Wheel

Finally! A tutorial about how to build your own sugar glider exercise wheel. I hunted online endlessly but never could find a complete step by step so I resolved to making one myself using various bits of info from here and there.

So lets get started!

Step 1: List of supplies
  • Drill with 5/16" bit (or one that matches whatever size bolt you choose to go with depending on the diameter of your bearing.
  • Hammer
  • File
  • Wire cutters (to cut zip ties)
  • Dremel with small bit (or you can use your drill with a small bit)
  • Hardware mesh
  • (2) 5-gallon bucket lids
  • 4 inch zip ties
  • Scissors (to cut hardware mesh)
  • (1) Stainless steel, 5/16" x 3" bolt
  • (1) Stainless steel, 5/16" lock nut
  • (2) Bearings (skate board wheels or roller blade wheel replacement bearings work great)
  • (1) Ceiling box cover plate
  • (1) 1/2" PVC Tee
  • (1) 1/2" PVC Plug
  • (2) Nylon washers
  • Plastic connector T (Don't know exact name of this. Comes in an 8 or 10 foot strip and is very thin).
  • Tin snips or other cutting tool (not pictured)
  • Lighter (not pictured)

Step 2:
Cut a hole out of the center of one bucket lid. I used a 10-inch cake pan for a guide. You can make this as big or small as you want. I suppose you could even cut multiple small holes, like a Wodent Wheel. Different lids have thicker or thinner plastic so you'll have to decide what will cut through yours best. I used a pair of tin snips. Afterward, I filed the edges with a metal file to smooth and sharp points, then ran a lighter around the edge to smooth it.

Step 3:
Drill a hole in the center of the other lid using a 5/16" bit (or whatever size bolt you want to use).  Sorry, my picture is upside down but I don't suppose it matters.

Step 4:
Drill a hole in the middle of your ceiling box cover plate.

Step 5:
Since the bearing will be slightly too big to push into the PVC Tee, carefully file around the inside opening of the Tee to allow the bearing to fit. I tried just hammering it into the Tee, but it kept flying off when I'd hit it. Filing it was the only way I could get the bearing to go in. One guy suggested heating the PVC at 200 degrees for 5-10 minutes. I tried this, but still could not get it to go in. 

Step 6:
Carefully hammer the bearing into the Tee until it is flush with the rim. Next, you'll need a cylinder type object to hold against the bearing while you hammer it own into the Tee until it reaches the little ridge inside. I used a long socket. You want whatever you use to cover most of the bearing so it slides down level and not cockeyed. Using a screwdriver or slender item will not work. Your bearing will go in crooked and I doubt you'll get it back out. Tap it slowly and evenly to move it.

This is what it should look like. I know it's hard to see, but the bearing is down inside the Tee. Repeat this process for the other side and bearing.

Step 7:
You will need several items for this step. I have laid they out in the order they will be assembled in starting from the bolt.
Bolt, nylon washer, lid, nylon washer, cover plate (with hole, I forgot to show this step with the one I cut already), Tee, lock nut, and finally the cap.

Be sure to start your assembly on the inside of the wheel and work your way backward. That is why I laid them out from right to left. the inside of the wheel will have the groove. This is where we will seat the mesh to make the running track.

This is what it should look like from the inside.

This is what it should look like from the back before you place the plug. Do not tighten the lock nut down or your suggies will not be able to turn the wheel. Just tighten it until you feel a slight hesitance when you turn the wheel. It should rotate smoothly. If you want your babies to get a little more exercise, you can make it a little snug so they'll have to push harder, but don't get carried away or the wheel will be useless.
You can always pop out the plug and tighten or loosen as needed.

Completed assembly from the back, plug in place. Now, because you filed some of the edge away on the Tee, the plug may not fit snug. If it wants to slip out, just wrap a little tape around it and that should help. You won't need much. Maybe 1 circle around the end of the plug.
With me so far? Its really very simple once you start assembling it.

Step 8:
Hope you don't mind drilling a gazillion little holes....Okay, maybe not a gazillion, but it feels like it. To hold the running track (hardware mesh) in place, we'll have to zip tie it. This lid has nice little marker tabs around the edges so I just drilled a hole in the middle of the outer rim at each one of these little tabs. You'll do this for both lids.

Step 9:
Cut your hardware mesh. This will be a pretty long strip. Since your lid size may be a little different due to varying lids you can buy, I can't really give an exact length. You'll need to wrap it around the lid to get a good estimate. Cut a little extra just to be sure. My first one was 1 square too short. 1 friggin' square!
Width wise, I used 11 squares. This will also depend on how wide you want your running track. I have a Stealth wheel so I just used about the same width as that was.

Step 10:
Cut your plastic T strip the same size as the width of your mesh. I couldn't find this strip any shorter so you'll have a crap load left.

Step 11:
Place your mesh inside the lip of the back part of the wheel. I found it easier to zip tie this side first, then do the front. Also, I put my seam at a hole. The plastic T will sit here and join the seams.

Step 12:
Begin zip tying. I wanted the end to fit inside the ridge so I pushed my zip tie to the inside before tightening it down.

This is what it should look like once you've tightened it.

Use your wire cutters to snip the end. I found wire cutters work a lot better to do this than scissors.

You can see that the end has a little sharp part. I didn't want my suggies getting cut on this so I pressed it into the groove with my fingertip.

It might be hard to tell, but now it is down into the groove and poses less of a cutting threat.

This is what it should look like from the outside. Now go around and finish putting zip ties in the rest of the holes. Do not put one in the hole under the seam. You can see that hole in this picture.

Step 13:
Once you get to the hole below your seam, slide your plastic T strip into place. I put the larger side on the inside, and the smaller one on the outside. I don't know if it really matters which way you do it. I just figured it'd be less likely to get pulled out by them if the larger side was inside.

Step 14:
Place the front of the wheel onto the mesh, making sure the mesh slides into the groove on the inside. Be sure to try and line your holes up between the front and back. It probably doesn't matter if they are off, but looks neater if you do.

Step 15:
Begin zip tying. Because you have a lot less room to maneuver in now, I found it easier to pull the tie almost tight, then slip it to the inside for the final tightening.
Continue around the wheel, being sure to snip and press your ends into the groove on the inside.

This is what it should look like when you are done zip tying.

Front view.
That's the hard part! Now you can make whatever kind of stand you want. I made a basic floor model which I show next.

Stand parts list:
(4) 1/2" PVC corners (90 degrees)
(1) 1/2" PVC Tee
(1) 1/2" PVC pipe cut to 10 inches
(4) 1/2" PVC pipes cut to 5.5 inches
(1) 1/2" PVC pipe cut to 12 inches

Place the 10" piece in the Tee opening on the back of the wheel. This is the one facing downward.
Next, push the PVC Tee into the bottom of this piece to make room for the arms.
Place one 5.5 inch piece of PVC into each of the opening.
Push a PVC corner piece on the ends.
Place one 5.5 inch piece of PVC into the corner openings.

Place a PVC corner piece on the ends.
Lastly, push the 12 inch PVC into the corner ends.

Ta da! All finished. Sorry I didn't have pics of the stand build. I'll add those next time I build one. Be sure to check back soon, I'll be posting on how to add sandpaper to the outside to help keep them nails trimmed.
One issue I noticed with the stand is the wheel has a tendency to tip forward. You can fix this easily by putting a bit of pvc glue on the joints to keep the frame upright. You might even tip it back slightly before glueing, so when your gliders are in it running, it's not dipping forward at all. I have a cage built out of pvc and hardware mesh and I found hanging the wheel from the top rather than sitting it on the bottom works best.
Good luck with your build. Please let me know if you have any questions or suggestions for improvement.
Oh, and if anyone knows the official name of those flat, plastic T piece, for goodness sake, help a gal out and tell me what it is.
Note: Please use stainless steel only for your metal pieces. Any other metal is dangerous to suggies.



  1. I want to thank you for posting this. I have a stealth wheel for my two 2 year old gliders and just adopted two 4 month olds that had nothing in their cage and I wanted to get them a wheel but it just wasn't in the budget this month with us having to buy a whole new cage, more food and everything. So your blog was a blessing. I have my husband making me two wheels right now. One for the newest and another for the bigger ones. We have everything all ready but thought we had enough cloth leftover from previous projects but actually just 2 little squares to short. So tomorrow we will be getting some more to finish it off. Thank you so much for this. P.S. found you googling diy sugar glider wheels and I'm so glad I did. Note: it is called wall panel moulding.

  2. Sugar gliders are very active animals, so having this wheel will surely make your glider happy. This is particularly true at night, when they are inside their cage and can't play around with anyone. Thanks for sharing this project!

    Sherri Briggs @ Pet Glider

  3. Hi may I ask is it a must to use 3" long bolt? can it be 3/4" instead? also may I ask whats the diameter of the bearings you're using? :D

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    Please contact me, thank you so much for posting this, it is certainly the correct blueprint on making more of these wheels. If someone hasn't told you yet that piece is called a wall panel molding. Also I have some questions, and maybe a couple ideas to make this wheel little more proficient? My name is Chris please contact me if you want to thanks so much

  6. Also, if anyone has any questions, you can contact me as well. I have made this wheel with a few minor variations, and I actually sell them and do quite well. But I still need some input

    1. I'm currently building one for my fiance. What size bearings were used?

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. The t thing is a PVC composite white FRP divider molding.

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. Did you ever come up with a pattern for doing a nail trimmer for the wheel? Thanks!

  10. Did you ever come up with a pattern for doing a nail trimmer for the wheel? Thanks!

  11. Did you ever come up with a pattern for doing a nail trimmer for the wheel? Thanks!

  12. Did you ever come up with a pattern for doing a nail trimmer for the wheel? Thanks!

  13. Did you ever come up with a pattern for doing a nail trimmer for the wheel? Thanks!

  14. I am actually in thw process of redoing ours.. it isn't as quiet as a stealth, and my gliders chew where the zip ties are. I am replacing them with a design that uses seals instead, and in thw tuturial I was able to find a way to make it a little quieter..
    If you add plumbers tape to the screw threads where the bearings are it helps. Also if you double the plate and add posts it makes it more stable.. as does using gutter guard is sturdier

  15. How long will one of these last with two gliders?

  16. I've been using mine, my son has been using his, and a friend of mine has been using hers for about 2 years. The only thing we've had to do is tighten the bolt every so often. Despite the nylon in the bolt, they still loosen over time. I've had the same problem with wheels I purchased for $50. I have made a few changes though, on how I make them. This design is still fine, but I did away with the need to ziptie the mesh to the wheel by switching to the bucket lids that have the gasket in the rim. To do this, just remove the gasket, set the track down into the rim, then replace the gasket, pushing it in place with a screw driver. As long as you have it down into the groove, the gasket should hold it.

    1. I'm actually going to be making some wheels this weekend so I will try to post a new tutorial.

    2. I'm going to be making a wheel soon, and would really love a tutorial with your improvements!

  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

    Johnathan, contact me here! lol

  19. Hi, as we are setting out in the garage now, my dear hubby is building one....if anyone has updated it more....please email me at
    Thank You

  20. I am not sure if i missed the reply .. what are the measurements for the bearings ? i'm looking online to order them but there are different sizes.
    thanks, Denise

    1. Go to ebay and search for 608rs bearings. You can get 10 for about $6.

  21. Oh, this is awesome! Thank you so much for taking the time to write this all up! I saw the Stealth Wheel and thought I could save a few bucks by making something like it myself, and now I've got instructions to do it. I appreciate it!

  22. Worked like a charm. Great instructions. Thanks so much.

  23. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Your directions were very clear. My babies are going to love it!

  24. my husband built this for my babies. still need a stand to use it. however, can you please recommend a way to build this without the mesh buckling?....and a way to install fine grade sandpaper for trimming nails to this?

  25. I have a few questions.
    Where do you find the T strip? Like what store, where at in store. I am guessing a carpet item.
    I am wondering why you need 2 bearings and not just one? (Totally new to this, trying to make stuff)
    Can you use a door knob wall protector plate instead of the other plate? What is the purpose of this being in there?
    What size are the nylon washers?
    Have you found a way to do this yet without the zip ties?
    And is there a way or has anyone mounted this to the wire without a stand?
    I am trying to gather parts for this project so lots of questions coming up:)

  26. Is the hardware mesh . Wire or plastic and where can you get this

  27. I would use gutter guard from the hardware store. It is already cut to size and is more sturdy. I discovered it through trial and error. I also modified it using water tubing For ice makers instead of zip ties for a better seal and making safer the sugar gliders as well.

    1. I looked at the gutter guard and thought it might be too flimsy. Wasn't sure what people were using . I'll try it