Homemade spinning wheels

Written by susan brockett | 13/05/2017

Spinning wheels are not just props for storybook tales. These tools, which add twist to fibre, allow you to create your own yarn and thread. Hand spinners can spend hundreds of dollars on a spinning wheel, but if you have some woodworking skills, you can create a functional spinning wheel yourself.

Simple or Complex

A spinning wheel can be as simple as a bicycle tire mounted on a large box, or it can be as complex as a double treadle wheel. Before building a wheel, consider how handy you are with tools and what you are comfortable building.

Learning About Wheels

Many hand spinners getting started in the craft use a spindle, which is a vertical, weighted shaft that is spun to add twist to fibre. A spinning wheel accomplishes the same thing mechanically. Instead of a weight, a drive wheel and pulley turns the spindle. There are many different spinning wheel arrangements using these three basic elements, and you should familiarise yourself with these parts before building your own spinning wheel.

Choose a Design

You can purchase plans for many spinning wheel designs. One potential source is the book "A No-Lathe Saxony-Style Spinning Wheel Construction Manual" by Richard Schneider. If you want a simple design, you can build a charkha tabletop wheel from a cigar box.

The Final Result

Different fibres should be spun with different methods. For example, a short staple fibre like cotton needs a lot of twist, but wool fibre is longer and can be spun with less twist. Before choosing a wheel design, consider what you like to spin, and choose an appropriate wheel. For example, a charkha is very good at spinning fine yarns with a lot of twist.

Before You Begin

After choosing a design, review the instructions to make sure that you can handle all the necessary techniques. If you are not familiar with some techniques, use some scrap wood to practice. Also, make sure that you have all the tools you need to complete the wheel.

When you are comfortable with the design and the techniques used, gather the materials, and start building. Soon you will be spinning on your new wheel.

Consider Alternative Materials

The most familiar wheels are made from wood, but you can also make a spinning wheel from PVC pipe.

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