That's what Kate calls wheel building. Although I've only done a few wheels, this was a new one and held some interesting lessons. I have been considering a more exotic spoke pattern for my next project. The pattern is called "three leading, three trailing," which describes how the spokes are arranged as they leave the hub: three spokes point in the direction of the rotation of the wheel, and three point away. This pattern can only be done with a number of spokes divisible by three. The wheel I'm planning to build will have 36 spokes, so this will not be an issue.
I wanted to practice the pattern, though. Various websites mentioned that for hubs with an even number of spokes not divisible by three, a similar pattern with two leading, two trailing spokes could be done. In the case of both patterns, it was mentioned that the length of the spokes used would be about the same as if the wheel was built three cross, for a three-leading wheel, or two-cross, for a two-leading wheel. That last detail becomes important in a moment.
Thus fortified with internet information, and recently in possession of a 32-spoke, three-cross wheel (which means that each spoke crosses three other spokes before it touches the rim) I wasn't using for anything else, I set out to build a practice wheel, and this is it:
There were challenges, however. I initially neglected the fact that I would be re- lacing spokes from a three-cross wheel into a pattern suited for spokes of the length of a two-cross wheel. As I laced in the new pattern, spokes and spoke nipples prtruded through the rim bed, a bad sign that the spokes would be too long. Of course they would be too long, for as three-cross spokes they left the hub at a tighter tangent than they would have to for a two-leading, two trailing wheel, which uses spokes similar in length to a two-cross wheel. This all happened last weekend. I finished lacing the wheel, confident in my abilities but dejected that the finished product would probably be unrideable, with spokes poking up and popping the tube, no matter how many layers of rim tape I used.
I returned to the project today. As I looked the floppy, misshapen wheel over, I remembered that the rim was a deep-section rim and that there might be just enough room between the eyelets and the rim bed to fit all that extra spoke. It was worth a shot. I tightened everything up, tensed and trued, tensed and trued again. Lo and behold, a rigid, true and totally useable wheel emerged. It was a great exercise and convinced me to continue in this pursuit when it comes time to build my new project wheel. I have no bike to really use this wheel on right now, but I threw it on my cruiser for a short while today and it ran true with no pinging sounds or loss of trueness. I'll call it a success for now, and can't wait to get started on the next set of wheels.