When an old wagon wheel outlives its primary function, it can in essence begin a new life and serve a completely new purpose. After it leaves the wagon, its newfound role may be entirely decorative, functional or both. Since the invention of the wagon wheel, people have found intriguing ways to recycle it.
Yard or Garden Ornament
The most basic use for an old wagon wheel is as a yard ornament. Even a decrepit one, not suitable for other wheel projects, can add charm and interest to a garden. Lean it against a tree, fence, or building, or prop it up by planting half of it in the soil. Use it as a backdrop for a low-growing flowering bush or as the focal point in a rock garden. A sturdy wagon wheel can provide ornamentation at a higher elevation by attaching it on a sign pole or on the side of a building.
Creative furniture makers find ways to incorporate old wagon wheels into pieces of furniture. For a western-styled bedroom, they become headboards and footboards. Two identical wagon wheels become armrests for a chair, or the legs to hold up a bench or table. In some chair designs, a wheel is the backrest. When mass producing wagon wheel furniture, manufacturers use mock wheels, built specifically for the furniture.
Old wagon wheels provide creative fencing options. Some incorporate an individual wheel into a metal, wooden or wrought iron fence or make a fence comprised solely of the wheels. In the state of Washington, the historic Wagon Wheel Fence comprises more than 1,000 vintage wagon and trailer wheels.
Wagon Wheel Chandelier
The classic lighting fixture for hanging in a western-themed room is a wagon wheel chandelier. During the 19th century, this type of chandelier was typically a wagon wheel suspended from the ceiling by chains, positioned with its sides parallel to the floor and ceiling. Oil lanterns were set atop the wheel, evenly positioned around the circular platform. In some designs, the lanterns hung from the wheel. With the development of electricity, later wagon wheel chandeliers had electrical lighting fixtures wired into the wheel for a less primitive look.
Wagon Wheel Pot Rack
If you have a wide counter area in a country-style kitchen, a wagon wheel suspended overhead can provide a western-themed pot rack. The challenge is finding a wagon wheel suitably sized for the area. Hang pothooks on the spokes and along the rim of the wheel to hold your pots, pans and utensils.