Make an Inexpensive Spinning Wheel

It doesn't take a lot of money to build your own spinning wheel. You can easily be on your way to spinning your own wool.

| May/June 1976

One day Barbara—that's my best friend—and I got this crazy idea: Why not try to make a spinning wheel?

Up until then, Barbara had been spinning our "homegrown" wool (which comes from a little black sheep and a white woolly that we keep here on our ten acres) on a drop spindle. In case you didn't know, a drop spindle is nothing more than a tapered dowel—weighted at the bottom—which you hold vertically and let rotate while pulling wool from the top. It's a slow-but-simple way to spin wool.

Now, it takes a long time to make even a two- or three ounce skein by the drop spindle method. Not that it isn't fun . . . Barbara loves it. (The way I see it, you've got to love spinning to do it in the first place!) But an honest-to-goodness spinning wheel . . . now that would certainly make the whole process a lot easier, and a lot quicker.

We thought awhile, and—after seeing diagrams and pictures of homemade wheels in Foxfire 2 —decided we couldn't wait any longer. We started to track down materials.

"Look!" we exclaimed when we spotted some half-inch and one-inch dowels-perfect to use as the spindle and holder—in the garage. "Hey!" we blurted when we happened across a rough piece of split oak, about four feet long, to use for the platform. I won't even mention what we said when we discovered some pieces of green oak suitable for legs in our firewood pile.

Our biggest piece of luck-considering we're both just unskilled novices when it comes to things mechanical—was finding a ready-made wheel. It came off a lonely old abandoned bicycle in the junkyard. At 24 inches in diameter, it wasn't quite as large as the wheels in Foxfire 2, but it looked as if it would do the trick . . . and it did!

10/20/2010 10:52:05 PM

Hello, what a wonderful idea. I just might consider it for myself.

margaux mcgartland_2
11/30/2008 2:07:47 PM

wow, time and inspiring and (and i) have a spinning wheel. learning this means i can pass this skills on my boy. thanks

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