Introduction: DIY Drop Spindle

About: Teacher of Engineering & Technology, nerding around with a sewing machine, laser cutter and 3D printer...

The easiest (and lowest cost!) way I've found so far of spinning fibre is to use a drop spindle. Unfortunately, unless you're lucky enough to live near a fantastic yarn/fibre/hobby store, you'll have to wait a couple of days for delivery, and that's no fun with no patience! I made this simple one to fill the gap between leaving my spindle at my boyfriends, to keep me busy while I waited to be able to pick it up...

You'll need:

A small piece of scrap wood (I used 9mm thick MDF, cut to 60mm square)
150mm of 6mm dowel
A piece of modelling wire, around 50mm long
A saw
5.5mm drill bit
Strong glue (I used hot glue, but a 2 part would also work fine)
Pencil sharpener
Small nail

Step 1: Make the Whorl

The disc on a drop spindle is called a whorl - it can be either at the top or the bottom of the shaft, depending on how you would like to weight it. I've always preferred top weighted spindles, so will be placing the whorl of my spindle near to the hook.

Traditionally, spindle whorls are round, but for the sake of ease, the one on this is square. Of course, if you had easy access to a set of hole saws, that would work brilliantly.

Start by marking out the piece of wood to the correct size. I chose 60mm x 60mm for mine. Using a ruler and a square, I marked out the square to cut, cut it out on a bandsaw, and sanded the edges smooth.

Once the whorl is cut and sanded, you need to drill the centre. To make sure that my drill hole was central, I drew corner-to-corner diagonal lines, creating a cross in the centre of the piece. I then clamped the piece of wood to a table top with a piece of scrap material underneath it, and drilled through the whorl using a hand drill.

Step 2: Prepare the Shaft

I found some 6mm dowel to use as the shaft of my spindle. I cut this to 150mm (6") long, using a coping saw. After I'd cut it, I used a pencil sharpener to round of the ends - on one end, I sharpened it almost to a point, and the other I just took a small amount off, to round it off.

Fitting the shaft into the whorl takes a little effort - the hole in the whorl is 5.5mm and the shaft is 6mm, so will be a tight fit. I found it easier to twist it into position, with around 20mm appearing above the whorl.

Step 3: The Hook

To be able to spin the fibre, your spindle will need a hook. I used a piece of modelling wire, which I folded in half and hammered the ends tightly together. Using a pair of pliers, I bent the double thickness wire into a hook, leaving a straight piece at the end.

Using a thin nail I put a hole in the end of the dowel that is nearest the whorl, which I then pulled out leaving a small hole in the end. With a hot glue gun, I put a blob of glue onto the end of the dowel, covering the hole, and pushed the straight end of the wire hook through the glue and into the hole. I tidied up the glue blob a little with the end of the glue gun.

As soon as the glue is dry, your spindle is ready to use! Take a look at this instructable for some hints on how to use it!

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