Bike Wheel Chandelier




Introduction: Bike Wheel Chandelier

Dear Illustrious members of the Instructables community,

This project is no more than a template in order to let your imaginations run wild. This chandelier uses bike wheels as a base, with various decorations and lighting able to illuminate any room with character. These instructions where written according to this design, but in no way do you need to adhere to them.

Think of it as good advice and a second opinion. This chandelier was made to suit my room and taste, so do what you want and play around with it. I guarantee it’s more fun that way.

Step 1: What You Need...


  • Bike Wheel (s)
  • Origami Paper
  • Christmas Baubles
  • Clear tape
  • String
  • Tensile Cable
  • Coat hanger
  • 20m Fairy Lights
  • Spray paint


  • Plyers
  • Scissors
  • Steel wool/Brush (optional)
  • Any form of weight around 10kg
  • A healthy dose of creativity

Treasure Hunting

If you know where to look, you can get most of the materials you require for free or at a considerable low price. Bike wheels are thrown out all the time by bike shops when a customer needs a wheel replaced. I found that most bike shops in the area that do repairs always had a pile of wheels that were just going to get scrapped. Simply go in and ask nicely for however many you need.

I used a broadband lead as my tensile cable. When testing the weight of the chandelier on string, I found that it stretched too much and lowered it too far. Hence I used electrical cable instead as it is sufficiently tensile for this project. Go around any skips beside construction/renovation sites. They’ll most likely have plenty of the sort, but obviously ask permission before taking anything.

You’d be surprised at the amount of things you can find at disposal sites. Visiting my local recycling centre, after a few minutes of scavenging I managed to come across a nice pile of plastic baubles and a coat hanger. It really depends of what they get that week so you could get lucky or not. You may find something else you like which you’d think would go well with the chandelier. Go on, ask a member of staff and negotiate for what you want. Since my haul was small, I managed to get mine for free.

The origami paper I got was a gift, however in order to fulfil the spectrum I went to the retrographics department at my local university to ask for some off-cuts. Art related departments such as this commonly work with different types and colours of paper. Chances are good you may get some useful pieces if you ask nicely.

For things such as lights and spray pain, its best to get them new just so they work as you expect.

Step 2: Prepare the Wheels

Since its scrapped, its not going to be squeaky clean. Use the steal wool/brush to clean as much dirt and grime off the wheel(s) as you can. Go over with a cloth, but going as far as to polishing is up to you.

I collected 4 wheels of different sizes and arranged them accordingly. After cleaning them, I chose the ones I wanted to spray paint and got down to it.

In a ventilated room with a protected flooring, tape the spokes of the wheels so they remain silver. I chose black and gold for one of them. I first sprayed gold on the inside edge where the tube normally goes. Keep the can close whilst spraying so no paint is wasted. Turning the wheel as you paint gives an even coat and distributes the trickling paint. For the black, I sprayed the bottom where the wheel makes contact with the floor and slowly rolled the wheel along. This helps prevent the black mixing with the gold. Let it dry out and remove the tape.

I repeated this with the other, however in just orange.

Step 3: Assembly

This bit required a bit of diligence. The small wheel had 10 spokes on one side and the larger one was conveniently double that. Tying one end of the sting to a spoke, I wove between the wheels, going around two spokes each time. However for the larger wheel, I went around every other group of spokes. Near the hub, there's a length where the group of two spokes cross over; it's best to keep the string there for optimal weight distribution.

I left around 15cm between the wheels and tied it off to the starting spoke. This produces almost a pulley system where each wheel can be levelled by hand and the friction of the string will hold it in place. This was then repeated for the others.

Now take out the hook from the coat hanger and bend the other end back so it almost closes. Almost. Follow the same process as before but instead of an upper wheel, simply wrap the string around the bottom bend of the hook each time and tie it off. Adjust the position of the hook so that the wheel hangs straight from its centre of gravity and lays parallel to the floor.

Step 4: Lighting

This bit probably took the most time for me.

Due to the use of 4 wheels, a length of 30 meters of fairy lights worked perfectly. For this bit, it helps if you temporarily hand it up. I hung it from an old lamp post weighted across my desk with a cello. This is not a good idea, but you get the jist. It helps to have the space for this bit.

Now there's a strategy to prevent having to drag 26m worth of lights through a hundred spokes, so here's the trick.

Work out where you want the chandelier to go and where the closest power socket is so the wire can neatly travel from the socket to the top of the chandelier. Now subtract that distance from the total length of the wire and you've got what you're working with. I had 26m to use on the chandelier itself.

Fold this section in half and pass the front end (not the end with the plug) through all 4 wheels. Wrap the lights around the bottom wheel, weaving through the spokes and around the hub till you're happy with distribution. Then pull more wire through to the third wheel and fold this in half again so you're working with 4 wire thick lighting. Weave this around the hub again. Same for the second, pull through, fold in half and weave around so by the time you get to the first, the biggest wheel, you're dealing with cable that's 16 wires thick so you only have to go around once and you have plenty of lights equally distributed around so that you didn't have to drag the wire around the wheel 16 times.

Voila! Adjust the lights here and their so the lighting is reasonably even. If you have to put a few piece of tape to hold things here and there, it's no problem. You won't be able to see it by the end.

Step 5: Decoration

The only decorations I did were the following:

Origami Cranes

Origami Butterfly

Origami Octogans

And Baubles.

I tried to cover the spectrum so they took a while. This would be more of a fun thing to do with a group of mates for an afternoon, so ask around :)

For the spiral of octogans, I taped fishing wire on the inside flap and every two spoked on the bottom wheel. I gave about 10cm gap between each octogan.

Step 6: Finishing Touches

To finally hang it up, I used the broadband wire stretched across my room. One end was weighted with a bag full of rice to act as an anchor. This is also a bad idea but my contract says I can't nail anything so I had to improvise by using the purfling around the ceiling as pivots of sorts.

This is what I'd generally recommend if you can use nails. It will also allow for direct wiring to the lights so you don't have to worry about socket length.

All in all, this project is really down to your room and what you like. You could go to a French flee market and get cool trinkets to hang up, Or weave different fabrics or fibre optics around each wheel. You could use completely different lighting, on a single wheel even.

This sort of project has limitless potential and possibilities. So have fun!

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    5 years ago

    The lit up picture looks great!