Converting a Car Wheel into a Porthole


Solid aluminum car rim off craigslist for $10 while picking up drywall.


Drilling holes was the fastest way I found to start the cut. Then a grinder to cut between holes and smooth the edges.

Alumimum is well known for gumming up grinding wheels and saw blades. But there are different grades of alumimum. Some gum less than others. These weren't that bad.


Frame to mount rim.

The window is a 12" square translucent glass block, 4" thick. Common material on craigslist here in Phoenix. I pay $1 each and have quite a collection.

Not sure if these are bullet proof, but seem pretty close.


Rim mounted to frame. Two brass screws, one at the top and one at the bottom through the air valve opening.


A 1/2" copper end cap fit nicely into a recess for the air valve opening.


This was accomplished as follows:

Drilled hole for the screw in the end of a cap so it acted like a washer, Fig 1. Grey represents the rim.

In another end cap I inserted and soldered a short length of 1/2" pipe (close nipple), Fig 3.

The nipple is pushed into end cap in the rim to cover the screw and keep water out. This makes cap removable if needed.


The rim's lip acted as a nice trim covering the cut tile.

I used grout between the tile and rim and so far it has held nicely. I would expect over time the difference in termal expansion of the two materials would cause the grout to fail. If and when that happens I will replace with silicone caulk.


The port faces west and is covered by a porch. In late afternoon, as the sun sets, light streams in and down the hallway. At night moonlight makes the window glow.