A wheelwright is a person who builds or repairs wooden wheels. The word is the combination of "wheel" and the archaic word "wright", which comes from the Old English word "wryhta", meaning a worker or maker. This occupational name eventually became the English surname Wheelwright.
These tradesmen made wheels for carts and wagons by first constructing the hub (called the nave), the spokes and the rim/fellows segments, and assembling them all into a unit working from the center of the wheel outwards. Most wheels were made from wood, but other materials have been used, such as bone and horn, for decorative or other purposes. Around the middle of the 19th century, iron strakes were replaced by a solid iron tyre custom made by a blacksmith, who first measured each wheel to ensure proper fit. Strakes were lengths of iron that were nailed to the outside of wheels to hold wooden wheels together. Strakes were replaced around the mid-19th century by more dependable iron tires that were fastened to the wooden wheel by both the tight fit of the tire/band as well as tire-bolts. Tire-bolts were less likely than tyre-nails to break off because they were flush with the wheel's outer surface. During the second half of the 19th century, the use of pre-manufactured iron hubs, and other factory-made wood, iron and rubber wheel parts became increasingly common.
In modern times, wheelwrights continue to make and repair a wide variety of wheels, including those made from wood and banded by iron tyres. The word wheelwright remains a term usually used for someone who makes and repairs wheels for horse drawn vehicles, even though it is sometimes used to refer to someone who repairs wheels, wheel alignment, rims, drums, discs and wire spokes on modern vehicles such as automobiles, buses and trucks. Wheels for horse-drawn vehicles continue to be constructed and repaired for use by people who use horse-drawn vehicles for farming, equine (horse) competitions, and presentations of historical events such as reenactments and living history.
Further reading 
- Hendrikson, M.C. (1996). The Secrets of Wheelwrighting: Tyres. Australia: M.C. and P. Hendrikson. Kariong, N.S.W. ISBN 0-646-31201-4.
- Morrison, Bruce; Joyce Morrison (2003). Wheelwrighting : A Modern Introduction. Cottonwood Press. pp. 371 (Spiral–bound). ISBN 0-9731947-0-7.
- Peloubet (Editor), Don (1996). Wooden Wheel Design and Construction. KY: Carriage Museum of America. pp. 248 (paper). ISBN 978-1-879335-73-8.
- Wright, John; Robert Hurford (1997). Making a wheel, how to make a traditional light English pattern wheel. UK: Natural England Countryside Agency. ISBN 1-869964-57-8.
- "An Old Craftman Preserves." Popular Mechanics, October 1947, p. 144-145.