Setting up your fireworks – Mines & Wheels

Wheels and mines need care setting up to ensure they work correctly and in the case of mines, that they’re completely secured before firing.


Getting started

Another reminder that UKFR guides are not intended as a replacement to the instructions on a mine or wheel which you should of course always follow. Common sense must at all times prevail here. For example in the event of a conflict between the firework’s instructions and the advice here, always follow the directions on the label. Most guidance and tips here can however be used in addition to the firework’s own instructions to enhance safety.


Setting up mines

Mines are tube shaped so like candles, they need to be properly supported so they cannot fall over. The mine’s instructions will advise either to part bury it, or to attach to an upright post.

Burying mines

Where instructed to bury mines, for example to two thirds depth or to a line on the firework, always bury them in the ground, never in a plant pot or other container above ground. This is in case the mine explodes outwards instead of upwards.

If you are not firing it immediately, place the mine in a bag or bin liner first to protect it from damp in the soil.

Attaching mines to stakes

Where instructed to attach to an upright stake, this means the mine should be firmly on the ground and secured to a stake next to it. Never attach a mine to a stake above the ground. It is important the bottom is supported. Use cable ties or gaffa tape and it is normal practice to put the stake on the audience side.

It should go without saying but it is worth repeating it: Be careful the mine is set out the right way up! An upside down mine is like having a bomb in your firework area.


Waterproofing mines

Place the mine in a bag before burying or staking and then put another bag over the top. Waterproofing techniques are the same as for cakes and candles so for more in depth advice please see that section.


Setting up wheels

Wheels have to be one of the most annoying fireworks to set up because if you get it wrong the wheel will stick! Having said that a stuck wheel is excellent for getting the audience laughing.

Stuck catherine wheel

Avoid the embarrassment of a stuck wheel by following this guide!

All wheels will come with a nail which you should place through the centre hole. Using a hammer, bang the nail into a suitable post to secure the wheel. Don’t overtighten the nail and do not leave it too loose. Always check the wheel can spin freely by giving it a spin with your hand. A quick drop of WD40 on the nail will help keep it free moving.

You should aim to situate your wheel as high as possible, and as high as you can safely light it. Fence posts are ideal and you should bang one post in the ground first then cable tie another post to it to make life easier. If you want to set it up even higher then a good tip to light it is to use a portfire on the end of a stick. This means you can still stay safely on the ground when lighting it.

Never set wheels up on trees, fences or sheds – you could cause them to catch fire.

Wheels  eject a lot of sparks and you should not set up other fireworks too close immediately to the left and right of each wheel.

Fireworks in action

Good demonstration of how far wheels can throw their sparks in a side wind. Keep away from your other unlit fireworks.


Waterproofing wheels

This is easy to do. Use the same method as with your rockets: Place a waterproof bag or bin liner over the wheel and secure with tape or an elastic band. Ensure the fuse is well covered by the bag. Fully remove the bag prior to firing.

Catherine Wheel

A large wheel mounted on a post and waterproofed with a bag


Further information

The other articles in this section will guide you through setting up various other types of firework.

The busy UKFR Fireworks Forum is always a good place to ask if you want more advice or if you want to get a little more creative with your fireworks.

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