I'm restoring my fiancée's bicycle. The hub and spokes are ok, but the bottom of the rims once sat in a puddle until they rusted out. Luckily I had a spare pair of rims left over from my last bicycle project.
It's fairly easy to de-lace a wheel. But getting the lacing right when you put the new rims on looks really hard! All those criss-crossings and spokes going alternating ways... Who can keep track of it? And if you miss a spoke, you'll throw off the whole process. I found websites which provide wheel lacing patterns, but I've got a much easier way than lacing from scratch.
The basic idea is that you only transfer one lace at a time. You copy the pattern from the old wheel step by step, and you'll never miss a spoke.
Start by holding the two wheels side-by-side between your knees. Make sure the right side spoke holes in one wheel are next to the right side holes in the other, and the left are by the left. As seen in this picture, the valve holes might not line up although the left-right spoke holes do.
Don't try to ride it yet! You still need to true the wheel. I'll explain in another post the technique I came up with to true my wheels without special equipment.