I often get ask the obvious question… “How did you build it?” I wish there was a simple answer, but there’s not. My wheelchair has been built, rebuilt and rebuilt again; each time learning and improving. Each component has been replaced at least once with trial and error being the guide. I will, I suspect, need to strip and do a full rebuild one day because of my base materials, which I will address in this article.
Do You Say… Wood?!?
Yes. I used pine and poplar strips from Lowes for the majority of the build. This gave me a lightweight and flexible structure in order to house the components. Later I added to it by creating the large sides of the chair. I used what I knew I could work with, I suppose a metal frame would have lasted longer; but I don’t know how to weld or have tools to work with metal, maybe one day.
Plexiglass has been a primary material for the same reason, I can work with it. I never really liked the look of painted wood. Painted plexiglass gives me a really glossy look that many have commented however, the trade off is it’s not a structural material. Plexiglass can crack, like glass unless you get the really expensive stuff. It also makes a good base for adding the vinyl wrap stickers.
I have used wire from just about everywhere: old wired from broken machines, house wiring, 12 volt wiring, speaker wires… what I had here and there. For whatever reason the wire you get from China off Amazon is really cheap, so beware. The shielding is soft and the copper you can practically pull apart with your hands… cheap, cheap, cheap. For most projects this would probably be ok, but when you are constantly plugging and unplugging, moving components and retracing wires; they are brittle and break.
Get the best materials you can afford. As I started this as a silly hobby I never expected that this would turn into what it had. I constantly find myself upgrading parts that I went cheap on that if I would have built this with the end result in mind; would have spent more the first time to get better parts and less maintenance. I have sat in front of Disney World, Busch gardens and even Lowes Speedway making aggravating repairs because of a cheap switch or connector broke. Look around and get the better parts to make sure that your build will be less problematic and more enjoyable.