I've been building wheels for myself and friends lately. I struggled with getting the nipple in deep rims without losing them inside the rim and getting a fairly accurate amount of initial turns for each nipple during the lacing process. I created a very simple tool that I'd like to share with you that can cost under $15 USD depending on how fancy a driver handle you select. It cut my wheel build time in half, but times may vary on experience.
1. 1.5mm Hex driver with replacable tip
. Can be purchased at your local hobby shop that sells RC Cars and Planes etc. or from towerhobbies.com" or Horizonhobby.com . I repurposed one I had laying around from my other past time.
2. One round straight gauge spoke
3. One spare nipple
Set the initial spoke depth by how many threads showing on the tool spoke with the tool's nipple, thread the wheelbuild's nipple on the exposed thread of the tool and thread wheelbuild's nipple on the spoke on the wheel till it stops. Continue lacing the rest of the spokes. Once the wheel is completely laced you can begin truing and tensioning the spokes.TIP
In order to prevent the nipple on the tool from moving in a desired position/depth. I purposely damaged the threads on the spoke near where the threads stop at the non-threaded potion of the spoke. This effectively held the tool's nipple in a desired position. Do NOT damage the treads where the nipple for the wheel build will thread.