When we moved into our apartment there were no lights in the living room. After looking at lamps and being quite disappointed in their looks, I decided to make my own wall-mounted lamp using some old bicycle wheels I had laying around.
Beside the bicycle wheels you will need the following items for this build:
2 | 5" diameter x 3/4" wood disks
6 | 3" pieces of #8 all-thread rod
18 | #8 nuts
18 | #8 washers
6 | #8 machine screw to wood screw screw in adapters
2 | Drywall anchors and screws
50 | #6 x 1/4" self-drilling screws
1 | 13.2' led rope light
Step 1: The Wheels
The wheels I had were 26" mountain bike wheels with 1" wide street tires. It's important to use tires on the wheels as they help to hide the lights that we will be adding. This being said, we'll need to remove the tires before we begin work on the wheels.
Step 2: Drill Holes in Back Side of Rim
Small holes (~3/32") need to be drilled at regular intervals around the backside of the rim. Most of the holes were drilled on 4" centers, with the exception of near where the wheels would overlap. Extra mounting for the LED rope light was needed in this location and holes were added accordingly. These holes should be placed as close as possible to the inside edge of the flat portion of the rim. I also only penetrated the outside layer of aluminum.
Step 3: Trim LED Rope Light Mounts
The LED rope light I purchased came with small plastic hoops for mounting. For this project we need to cut off one of the mounting tabs on these hoops. A side cutter works well for trimming these tabs off quickly.
Step 4: Mounting the Rope Light
Starting at the end point of the LED rope light (the end opposite the end where the power cord attaches to it), the light is mounted to the rim using 1/4" long #6 self-drilling screws and the plastic mounting hoops. Since the rope light is quite thick, it takes some work to get it to conform to the curve of the wheel. Be patient and it will eventually lay down nicely (assuming you're not using a 12" wheel). After making a single loop on the first wheel, the rope light is transferred to the second wheel such that it hides behind the overlap point of the wheels. This is where you may need some extra mounts to keep everything in place. After circling the second wheel, the rope light was a bit longer than needed, so I stacked the second layer of lights on top of the first and zip tied the two together. A bit of planning is needed to ensure that the power connection to the rope light ends up in an ideal location.
Step 5: Mount Tires
Once the rope light is secured to the wheels, the tires can be remounted on the rims. I did not put tubes in the tires, which made the whole process considerably easier. If you use mountain bike tires you may need tubes to keep everything looking inflated.
Step 6: Prepare the Wall Mounts 1
Two 5" diameter x 3/4" thick wooded disks were used to make the wall mounts for the wheels. I found these at an art supply store, but they could be easily cut from some scrap wood. I drilled a 1 1/8" hole partially through the center of the circles to provide clearance for the hubs of the bicycle wheels. A smaller hole in the center of this hole is used to secure the mount to the wall. Around the center of the circle were drilled three smaller holes in a triangular arrangement. The position of these holes is important as they are placed such that they line up with the small triangular holes between the wheel spokes where they attach to the hub. The holes are sized to accommodate the wood to #8 machine screw screw adapters, which can be screwed into them. I spray painted everything black to match the wheels.
Step 7: Prepare the Wall Mounts 2
Three short (3") sections of #8 all-thread rod are cut and threaded into the wood to machine screw screw adapters. Washers and nuts are tightened down against the wall mount to secure the all-thread rod sections to the mount. Additional nuts and washers are placed part way up the rods.
Step 8: Attach Wheel Mounts to Wall
The wheel mounts are attached to the wall using a drywall anchor and screw through the center of the mount. If you are mounting over a stud the anchor is obviously not necessary.
Step 9: Hang the Wheels
Once the mounts are secured, the wheels can be placed onto the all-thread rods. The all-thread rods should be placed as close to the wheel hubs as possible - preferably through the small triangles in between the spokes right next to the hubs. The mounts may need to be rotated on their anchor screws to allow the wheels to be mounted in the correct position. Once the wheels are on the rods, washers and nuts can be loosely placed onto the ends of the rods to hold the wheels on.
Step 10: Adjust the Wheel Mounting
It takes some time to get the wheels correctly positioned on the wall. You want the wheels to sit parallel with the wall in both the vertical and horizontal direction. By turning the nuts on the inside of the wheels, you can easily adjust the angles of the wheels. When you are satisfied that the wheels are positioned correctly, tighten the nuts and washers on the outside of the wheels down against the spokes. I found that these nuts don't need to be more than finger tight to make the whole system secure, but you can use a wrench if you like.
Step 11: Attach the Power Cord
The rope lights I purchased had a detachable power cord, which needed to be attached. As an added bonus, the outlet I was using to power the lights was connected to a wall switch, making the light feel like less of a lamp and more of a permanent fixture in the room.
Step 12: Step Back and Admire Your Work
This project called for a bit of admiration once completed.