The many responses from the list were invaluable in helping me decide
how to refinish the steering wheel. Taking info from different responses I
combined materials for the
final decision on how I would restore.
I am sending the following information in the hope it helps someone in
I normally use a steering wheel cover for daily rides, for comfort, only
removing for shows. I knew I had a crack, but on removing the cover, found
that it was worse than expected.
I used a thin knife to run around the inner & outer seams of the wheel
to remove the wood halves from the steel ring (gently pulling up as I cut
the seam). I used a razor type knife, which allowed me to cut deeper and
closer to the ring. The two halves were not only glued together, but also
glued to the steel ring. One side came off in 2 pieces and the other in
three. These segments had also been cracked but not as pronounced as the
This part of the procedure took about half an hour to complete.
My next step was to make a jig for re-gluing the half sections
This was accomplished by using 4 pieces of 1x6 and screwing them together
into a flat plain (a piece of flat plywood could also be used).
The pieces were put together and tacks were used around the inside & outside
of the wood steering wheel pieces to keep it true to form for the gluing
The pieces were ragged but they fit together with an almost invisible joint.
The glue I used was Elmer's Pro Bond, a polyurethane that requires
moisture to activate it on porous surfaces. It also works on the metal ring
This glue also expands into any voids that may be there, and is waterproof,
stainable and can be sanded.
I started on the upper half of the wood ring with the flat side down,
each side of the cracks and/or break, applied the glue and set each piece
into the jig.
This allowed the wood ring to be kept flat and true to it's diameter. I let
it dry for 4 hours and then removed it from the jig. The glue will foam
you should scrape off or sand off when dry.You may require a knife
to cut where the glue touched the jig, very simple procedure. The other
section was done the same way. This allowed for a perfect fit when the
2 halves were put together.
My steel ring was lightly rusted, which showed how compromised the old
glue was. I buffed the metal ring to remove the rust. Now is the time to
put the wood upper and lower ring together over the metal ring. Don't
to scrape as much of the old glue off so on the dry fit, the joints are
The next step I took was to wet the wooden surfaces, apply glue to the
ring, then to the halves of the wood rings. The positioning will be
determined by the notches, where the 2 spokes enter the wood rings.
The pieces are applied over the metal ring and zip ties were used as a
clamping system approximately every 2 inches around the wood ring. You have
approximately 15 minutes for this process from start to finish, so make sure
you have aligned correctly and the ties are at hand. Leave for 4 hours, the
glue will foam out (don't worry, again it is easy to scrape or sand after it
Remove the ties after the 4 hours and let sit overnight.
Scrape and sand (I used 150 grit sandpaper).
Stripping of the old finish on the wheel was done after the segments
were glued together and the
halves were glued back together. I used a knife held at 90 degrees to strip
the wood. The old finish was of a very tough plastic-like material, but
multiple coats of stripper (Circa 1850 gelled furniture stripper) and lots
of scraping achieved the final bare wood wheel.
I then used plastic wood (LePage's) to fill the defects or small
cracks that the sanding never
took out. Re-sand from 100 up to 220 grit.
I then stained the walnut with 2 coats of gel stain (Dark Walnut) #608
Flecto Varathane, to near original colour. Number of coats will
determine depth of colour.
Finish coat was 3 coats of Minwax Helmsman Urethane Clear Gloss,
between coats with 220 grit and tack ragging clean.
The hub on my wheel wasn't cracked, but a response from the list
recommended that if yours
is use PCT epoxy to fix the cracks and spray paint with black semi gloss
paint to match.
My steering wheel turned out looking identical to the original look and
Again, thanks to all who replied to my question.