Introduction: Bicycle Wheel to Hanging Pan Rack

My husband loves to cook and while his cooking repertoire has been expanding, so has his collection of cookware. Fortunately, these newer ones have handles with either a hole or some sort of cavity, enabling them to be hung. The problem is that we did not have anywhere to hang them!

I had seen these bicycle wheel pot racks but a) they were too expensive for me and b) they didn’t look like much. So I set out on a search, spending hours scouring the internet for ideas on some decent-looking bicycle wheel pot racks - no luck! I wasn’t crazy about something hanging from chains, wanting instead, a rack that looked nice - more like a hanging planter - perhaps something with... you-got-it, macrame! That sent me off on a macrame planter (making) hunt...


1) For main rack - The star of the show: Bicycle wheel (preferable front)

2) Possibly required for cassette removal: Chain whip and Lockring Wrench (Specific tools) OR Wrench, needle nose pliers plumber’s wrench, vice, and plenty of elbow grease.

3) For Hanging the rack and for macrame: Rope - ⅛’’ to ¼’’ If your intent is - as mine was - to recycle, then any rope that seems strong enough for the job should work. If buying rope specifically for this project, go with Polyester

4) For attaching the rope to the wheel: Thin clear zip ties

5) Optional for embellishment: Beads, pull tabs, washers, nuts: Based on your preferred pattern, style, and taste, you might choose to use these or not

6) For securing the ends: Glue - Gorilla glue, crazy glue, or any polyacrylamide based clear glue

7) For cutting the rope: Scissors

8) For threading the ends into the knot: Large crafting needle (not necessary but helps). You can improvise with a thin piece of wire (that’s what I used)

9) For hanging the pots and pans: Old/broken clear plastic hangers with a metal hook (the kind clothing stores use) or full metal hangers (the kind dry-cleaners use)

Step 1: Prepping the Wheel

Remove the bolts using a wrench and if you happen to end up with a rear wheel, as I did, then you will need to remove the cassette. I am not about to re-invent the bicycle wheel on cassette removal as there is no dearth of how-to videos on this topic floating around on the internet.

If you do not feel inclined to do this yourself, find a bicycle repair shop and they will do the job for you in under a minute. Feel free to tip them!
Other than that, make sure you clean the wheel very well as there might be quite a bit of grease on it.

Step 2: Planning the Design

Since the wheel had 9 sections, I thought it was better to design my pattern based on that number, rather than try to force-fit a symmetry of 8 - even though the latter would have been easier and more convenient in the short term.
I used random pieces of (what I think is nylon) rope which were free, they were part of the packaging that had been used to secure some large items we‘d bought a long time ago. As it turned out, I had three different lengths, thicknesses, and styles of this somewhat similar textured white rope.

The longest piece was used for the main hanging structure. It was 64’ long and happened to be of the double twisted type. Now, I needed to divide this by 9 - since there were 9 natural sections on the heel - remember? That turns out to be a little over 7’ so I decided to measure out 9 sections of exactly 7’ and reserve the extra 1 foot of length to do a little whipping at the end. Instead of plain old whipping, I used it to do the twisted knot, which became the main theme for the macrame part of the project.

I designed it to have an industrial meets girly look, which is why I initially chose to incorporate washers and nuts into the macrame pattern, rather than beads. But then I remembered that I had a stash of pull tabs and decided to use those instead.

Step 3: Attaching the Rope to the Wheel

I folded the rope over and marked off 6” at the two ends since I had 1’ of extra rope to account for. I then tied the two ends together (at their 6” mark from their ends) to form a circle with a circumference of 63’. I then marked off 9 sections of 7’ each.

Starting from the knot that joined the ends of the rope, two sets of 9 loops (each 3.5’), were created. One set was slung over a temporary hook while each loop of the other set was threaded through a pull tab (as in picture) and then attached to the wheel using zip ties. Starting from one point on the wheel, each loop of rope was brought from the inside of the rim, under and over the outer edge of the rim, before being secured with a zip tie that was concealed under the pull tab.

Step 4: ​Making the Macrame

If you remember, before attaching each of the 9 main loops of rope to the wheel, I had slipped on a pull tab. Now, I added another layer of pull tabs via the loops at the top. I carefully took each loop off the temporary hook in the ceiling, slipped on a pull tab, and slid it all the way down the rope until it was about 3” away from the tab on the lower (first) row. Since these had come from the top, they were offset from the previous layer of pull tabs.

From the thinner unbranded rope, I cut 9 - 2’ lengths. I used these to make 9 twists knots that connected two adjacent strands above the second layer of pull tabs such that the twists would be offset from the pull tabs

Based on the little twists that I had already made, I estimated that each double strand becomes 1/8th of its original length. That means you need a piece 16 times the length you would like it to cover. Since it became obvious to me that I did not have enough rope to cover what I wanted to, I decided instead to divide what I did have into 9 equal strands and use them up as far as they would go.

Here’s what I did. Since I knew that I needed multiples of 16, I folded up the rope 4 times, then I measured it and divided that by 9.

My 16 fold rope = 40.5”

40.5 ÷ 9 = 4.5’’

4.5 x 8 = 36

So I measured out 36’’ and kept folding over to get the 9 strands that I needed for the mid-sized twists towards the top.

I used my improvised needle to pull the ends into the interior of the knot where I could and added a dab og Gorilla glue where it was near impossible to pull the ends through since I had made the knots pretty tight, especially towards the ends.

Step 5: ​Adding the Pan Hooks

You'll need to get a grip... of the plastic hanger just inside the clip with a pair of pliers or an adjustable wrench. Use another wrench to break off the clip. The reason you want to actually grip the hanger right next to where you are breaking away the clip is so that it does not break in some random place. You want as much of the length of the hanger. If it snaps in the middle, then it cannot be used as it might slip out from between the spokes.

Now, all you need to do is maneuver it into place between the two sets of spokes such that the hook is hanging down and facing outwards.

Step 6: Finishing Touches

The plan was to combine the concept of a hanging pot rack with that of a hanging planter. But I soon realized that a planter with real plants would bring its own challenges. First, it would add considerable weight to the structure, which depending upon the type of planter used and the included plants, could be minimized. Second, the convex center created by the spokes called for a container with a unique central punt. If I owned a 3D printer, I might have made one but since I do not, that was not an option. Besides, I wanted this to be made of 100% recycled material. Then, I considered creating a shallow planter using a black garbage bag as a liner on the lower layer of spokes and filling it with a super light potting mix held in place by sphagnum moss.

Yet another problem presented itself - how to dress up the periphery of the planter. I would need to somehow hide the plastic bag. This could also be achieved with sphagnum moss. But I didn’t have any of it around and I was determined not to go out and buy anything for this project. My compromise was to use some of those artificial plants that my son is always threatening to get rid of😅 It might make the whole thing look a tad tacky but what the heck, it’s good enough for now and it serves its main purpose!

Step 7: Adjustments, Bloopers, and Confessions (ABCs):

ABC #1: After starting to attach my carefully divided rope to the wheel, I realized that the wheel had 9 sections but my rope had been divided into 8 (double) sets of loops. Now you know how much I know about bicycle wheels… I could have merely redistributed the strands and force-fitted them into a pattern of 8 symmetry but preferred to go with the inherent division on the wheel. As such I redivided my rope into 9 sections.

ABC #2: After reaching about half around the wheel, securing the loops to it with zip ties, I noticed the joint in the metal and to an infernal perfectionist, it stood out like a sore thumb! So placed the next loop directly over the joint to cover it and from that point, continued attaching the remaining to match that offset from my original markings. Fortunately, it was just one spoke over, so about an inch. That did not cause too much strain and distortion while working. When I reached the end, I dismantled all the previous attachments and redid them accordingly.

A vote would be much appreciated😊

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