For some, wheel building has an aura of mystery around it, a skill that seems to be held only by wizened mechanics who lurk in the dark recesses of bike shops. Even in the age of instant access to YouTube tutorials on pretty much any topic imaginable, when faced with a rim, a hub, and a pile of spokes, many riders would rather leave the heavy lifting to their local guru. That's nothing to be ashamed of – it takes time to become proficient at building up a strong set of wheels, and it's a skill that isn't required as often as something like adjusting a derailleur or even bleeding a set of brakes, especially given the sheer number of high quality pre-built wheelsets on the market.
However, there is something to be said for the sense of satisfaction that comes from building your own wheels, and with winter approaching in the Northern Hemisphere the time is ripe for broadening your range of technical know-how. It's helpful to have a knowledgeable friend on hand to guide you through the process, although you may need to bribe them with beverages or baked goods – watching a newcomer figuring out the basics can be a tedious task. Be careful, though, because before you know it, you'll be quoting Jobst Brandt, and waxing poetic about the merits of a 32-hole hub laced up in a three-cross pattern with brass nipples.