How to Make Your Own Rims

by Jerry Garner

Few things will dress up a car as much as a nice set of custom rims. People spend big money on a good set of rims, and are nearly always pleased with the results and feel that the purchase was worth every last cent. The trouble is that even if you buy custom rims to make your car look different than the factory model, there are still hundreds of sets of the exact same rims sold around the country. But you don't have to rely only on what you can find in auto shops. It is entirely possible to make your own rims, with a design that is unique to you and will never be seen anywhere else on Earth. Here is how it's done.

Draw a circle on a sheet of paper from your sketchpad. The circle represents the design face of your rim. You will get the best results if you use a compass to draw the circle, since it will be perfectly round and uniform. If you do not have a compass, tracing around the rim of a bowl or other circular object makes a nice substitute.

Measure the positions of the bolt holes on your original rims and mark them to scale on your drawing. Again, you will get the best results if you use a compass to draw a perfect circle for each hold. Note the size of the hold and the space between each hole on the drawing, as you will need to know these specifications later.

Consider the design you would like to have on your rims. You can browse through rim catalogs for inspiration, or simply draw a custom design from scratch. Put some thought into what you would like to see on the finished product.

Use a pencil and ruler to draw your design on the paper so that you will have a visual representation of what you want your rims to look like. Any areas that will be cut all the way through the rim should be shaded in. Use diagonal lines to identify spaces that are engraved, but not cut all the way through. You should also identify the measurements of different sections of the design to identify how long and wide the critical areas will be on the rims you make.

Meet with a CNC lathe operator. The lathe operator will review your designs with you, double check the measurements of your design and also consult with you on the stability of your rim. The lathe operator will also make alternate suggestions, which you may choose to use or discard. You can find a CNC lathe operator by calling the machine shops listed in your local yellow pages.

Create the rims. The CNC lathe operator will program the schematics of your rims into the CNC lathe. Blank aluminum rims will then be inserted into the machine and the computer will automatically cut your design into the rims. The process can take several hours, depending on the complexity of your design. You can expect it to take an entire day to complete a set of four rims.

Send your rims out to be coated in chrome. The machine shop that cuts your rims on the lathe may have chrome facilities, but chances are that the rims will need to be shipped out to get a chrome coating over the top of the aluminum. This process is often referred to as a chrome bath, since the metal is submerged and soaked in a solution that applies an even coat of chrome over the entire surface. Expect your rims to be gone for seven to 10 days while you wait for the chrome to be applied to the surface. This is the final step before mounting your tires on the rim and putting them on your car.

Tip

  • check Try to find a CNC lathe operator who has experience in making rims. Not only will he be more likely to have blank aluminum rims already in stock, but he will also have more expertise to advise you as to how structurally sound your design will be.

Items you will need

About the Author

Jerry Garner has been writing semi-professionally for more than 15 years. The body of Garner's work includes informative articles, news and current events and historical essays. He is an avid sports fan and frequently writes about outdoor activities online.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera ple101_98, Flickr.com Creative Commons License