Picture of Build Your First Bike Wheel!
It's easier than you think!
This instructable describes the basic concept of how to build a 36 spoke bike wheel. Experienced wheel builders will see certain steps omitted. This is by design in an effort to simplify the process for the first time builder. 
We are also assuming, and this is a Herculean assumption, that you know the proper spoke length for your application.
That said, let's get started!
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Step 1: Tools, Materials and Jargon

Picture of Tools, Materials and Jargon
1ea. Spoke Wrench
1ea. 36 hole rim
1ea. 36 hole hub
36ea. spokes
36ea. spoke nipples
Rim - The big hoop with holes around the edge
Hub - The thing in the middle that holds the axle and has 2 flanges on it with holes in them.
Spokes - The wire things with a bent nail-head at one end and threads at the other.
Wheel - What you get when you put all of these things together.
Port - Sweet red wine or the left side of the bike when facing forward.

Step 2: Examine the Hub and Load Spokes

Picture of Examine the Hub and Load Spokes
The hub has flanges on it that are drilled to accept the spokes. A 36 hole wheel hub has 18 holes on each flange. Some hubs have every other hole countersunk to accommodate the spoke head. This one doesn't, so we can go right to loading our first set of spokes.
Holding the hub with one flange parallel to the ground, take 9 spokes and drop one in to every other hole of the flange. Be sure to load spokes from the outside edge of the flange for this first step. It will become apparent later why the direction is important.
LarsR11 month ago

Are the spoke hop counts the same if you have a 32h rim+hub?

mblackwood1 year ago
Patience is a virtue.
I used this as a reference, and remembered that building my last wheel I didn't have patience when tightening the spokes, which then forced me to loosen all of them again, and then re-tighten them.
Be patient when doing the first round of tightening, just like the author says and you'll have a nice, solid, round and true wheel.
giocad2 years ago
very educational.
New to Instructables and this is a reason I'll stay! Thanks. Yours and other people's views on dishing tools and tension meters?
Marsh (author)  Muzzledoctor2 years ago
I don't use them. Then again, I haven't had need to build a road wheel.
LeechTaMere5 years ago
nice tuto. thanks. Just a detail, though : your home made truing stand is a piece of art. I don't know if you knew it, but here it is
Marsh (author)  LeechTaMere5 years ago
 I found that pic and thought it was a home made truing stand. I had no idea it was someone's artwork! Hilarious!
Marcel Duchamp was actually one of the most famous French Surrealistic artist. Really cool you managed to add one of his works in your how-to!
His wikipedia page here
thats exactly what i thought when i saw this!
Bongmaster5 years ago
nice ible :)
and im not a bike person XD
Jayefuu5 years ago
Awesome ible. Well explained, well written and loads of nice pictures :D Rated.