TooWheels - the opensource wheelchair

TooWheels is a completely DIY wheelchair designed to be made everywhere in the world!

Similar projects worth following
TooWheels is an opensource wheelchair project for people with disability designed to be completely DIY everywhere in the world, with custom dimension and local materials. The project is born as sport wheelchair but is evolving to answer different needs, due to the users and the community involved in the project. From India to Ecuador, across Italy we are developing a maker's answer to the needs of people with disability in collaboration with many partners and the FIBA (the Italian national federation for sport with disability). You can download files and instructions of the project from the website, customize it for for your size, and make the wheelchair at home or using digital fabrication machinery if you are close to a FabLab.
Taking part in the project you can cut down the cost of 10 times!
TooWheels project received in 2016 the "Compasso d'oro" awards, an international prize of the Italian Design Association ADI, and many other awards.

Toowheels is a DIY wheelchair, you can build using simple materials and tool like plywood, pipes and bicycle parts.

You can change dimension and size, and if you want you can make a custom wheelchair for any needs you have!

Toowheels is easy to make, and customizable using local materials and resources. We are working on setting some hub in developing countries to involve people with disability for local production, generating jobs opportunity, social benefits, and device for mobility.

The advantages of this project are different:

- it's customizable ergonomically and technically in order to create a wheelchair for the needs of each ones, and for the available local materials;

- it's 10 times cheaper than a sport wheelchair with the same performances;

- it's adaptable to answer different needs, starting from the same frame you can build a sport, an off-road, or a city wheelchair changing only some details;

- it's an opensource project, you can download 3D files or printable plans from the website, and make it with digital fabrication technology in places like Fablabs, or you can use simple DIY tools like a saw and a driller.

I started this project in 2012, creating a network of people working and suggesting new improvements. After several collaborations we are searching new goals, ready for new challenges!

TOOWHEELS badminton project

Here you can find the 2D and 3D plans of the badminton project, a custom Toowheels for the Italian Badminton Athletes with a read-me file with some instructions! Enjoy!

Zip Archive - 8.77 MB - 10/09/2017 at 15:58



Here you can find the 3D plans of the wheelchair in 3dm and stl.

Zip Archive - 44.67 MB - 09/28/2017 at 15:42



Here you can find the 2D plans of the wheelchair in dxf, dwg and pdf.

Zip Archive - 289.27 kB - 09/28/2017 at 15:38


TOOWHEELS_1_project photos.pdf

Here some photo of the project!

Adobe Portable Document Format - 1.93 MB - 07/05/2017 at 14:06



Here the Bill of material you need to make your wheelchair.

Adobe Portable Document Format - 170.19 kB - 07/05/2017 at 14:06


View all 9 files

  • 3 × Plywood panels 800mmX600mmX10mm
  • 5 × Threaded rods M8
  • 1 × Threaded rods M16
  • 40 × Bolts M8 x 40mm
  • 40 × Nuts M8

View all 24 components

View all 19 project logs

View all 6 instructions

Enjoy this project?



Florian Festi wrote 10/02/2017 at 12:53 point

May be a more general comment:

I've not yet done vehicles made out of plywood but my experience with smaller things has been that plywood gains its strength from joining the sheets at an (typically 90°) angle. Most strength can be achieved by completely enclosing an volume basically creating a box like part. Even flimsy 3mm poplar plywood can withstand the weight of a person this way (given the box is small enough).

  Are you sure? yes | no

Alessio Fabrizio wrote 10/02/2017 at 21:24 point

I try different plywood, from poplar to birch, and the last is mechanically better. Creating a box like structure it can be stronger as you said, similar to the new version of the project I'm going to share.  

  Are you sure? yes | no

Florian Festi wrote 10/02/2017 at 23:58 point

Yeah, I used poplar as an example as it is the weakest wood we typically use. But it is cheap and cuts well - so it is great for non structural prototypes.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Florian Festi wrote 10/02/2017 at 12:41 point

That a really cool project. But I have the nagging feeling that there's still a lot that can be improved. The current construction seem not to make good use of the strengths of plywood as a building material. I am kinda surprised you are not making more use of finger joints. Even if they are pretty loose to allow disassembling they can give a lot of strength and are easy to do if you are using a laser cutter or router anyway.

I am also not a fan of all those threaded rods going from one side to the other. Yes, they allow easy disassembly but they are pretty heavy and do (probably) not provide much stiffness.

Ok, lets start somewhere else and come back to this later: I do not like the attachment of the wheel either. Plywood is very strong if all bending forces are kept within the panels.

What about adding a wedge on the outside that swallows up the spacer between the side walls and the hub. Basically two triangular walls with a plate on top that is orthogonal to the axle attached to the side wall with finger joints and glue. This would widen the support for the axle and distribute the upward force from the wheel onto the side wall.

Then you could use the axle to actually assemble the chair: Replace some of threaded rods by two vertical pieces of plywood that run from side to side and have a block attached between them on both sides  which the  axle goes through. This way tightening the axles will clamp the wheels,  the new wedge, the side wall and the new cross walls together and though the whole chair. This should result in a much stronger and even lighter construction.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Alessio Fabrizio wrote 10/02/2017 at 21:07 point

Thanks Florian for this suggestions!

I try to design the first prototype without finger joints or t-slot to made it easy to produce with handsaw/jigsaw in a DIY workshop using the paper models.  

 I try to share some my considerations to yours about the upgrade I've made to the first shared project, with the second prototype developed for the Italians Badminton athletes. In this new prototype is designed specific for CNC, and use different kind of joint for better assembling and strengthen. Threaded rods are very useful for the first prototype but (as you said) the new proto is with 90° sheets, with the whole structure fixed with iron cable, a great upgrade!! Also the attachment of the wheel is improved in the new version, but I'm interested in your ideas: can you share post a sketch of your design?

I post new photos below with a close up of the new version. Your comments can be very useful to improve the project, Thanks!!

  Are you sure? yes | no

Florian Festi wrote 10/02/2017 at 23:41 point

I am really not a CAD person...

Something roughly like this:

This is basically from behind with only the left wheel. Everything is clamped together by the axle. The lighter parts are one triangular piece - or multiple pieces. They might not be all parallel to the drawing plane but at an angle. As they touching all the other sheets in a 90° angle they could be joint with finger joints or slots.

The main idea is that the board going across the chair is clamped to the side wall this way. The wedge also distributes the clamping pressure onto the side wall - keeping the chair together.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Florian Festi wrote 10/02/2017 at 23:54 point

Wood is stronger in tension then in compression. So if you can get the proper joints you should not need a steel cable.

But wood has also only about tenth of the strength across the grain. So getting good joints is a challenge - especially if you do not want to glue everything.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Alessio Fabrizio wrote 09/18/2017 at 14:43 point

Thank you!! I hope the project keep helping people!

  Are you sure? yes | no

Taran Ravindran wrote 09/17/2017 at 22:45 point

Amazing that something like this hasn't already been created. Great job for seeing the need and filling it!

  Are you sure? yes | no

Similar Projects

Does this project spark your interest?

Become a member to follow this project and never miss any updates