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Author Topic: Any woodworking type geeks out there?
ARJ
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Icon 1 posted October 11, 2006 18:46      Profile for ARJ   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I'm toying with the idea of making some drop spindles. If you don't know anything about drop spindles, they are basically just three parts: a shaft (thin central cylinder), a hook (at the top of the shaft for suspending the spindle from the fibre), and a whorl (flywheel type disc found either near the top or the bottom of the shaft). Anyone have any advice/recommendations on how to get started with constructing one? Sites, books, anecdotes welcome.

The specific questions I'm mulling:
  • What's the best shape for the whorl? A drop spindle needs to rotate smoothly and maintain spin for as long as possible.
  • How do I make sure the shaft goes through the exact centre of the whorl? What can help me guarantee it will be balanced?
  • What types of materials & tools might I need?

Thanks in advance.

--------------------
Katie West: Well done steak? Really?

Warren Ellis: Yes. Because MAN COOK MEAT WITH FIRE UNTIL IT NO CRY ANY MORE THEN EAT IT DEAD

Posts: 1197 | From: Sydney, NSW, AU | Registered: Jan 2000  |  IP: Logged
Rhonwyyn

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Icon 1 posted October 11, 2006 19:46      Profile for Rhonwyyn   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Directions complete with LOTS of pictures here:

http://www.davidreedsmith.com/Articles/MakingDropSpindle/MakingJudi.htm

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Change the way you SEE, not the way you LOOK!

Posts: 3849 | From: Lancaster, PA | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged
canadiangeek
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Icon 1 posted October 12, 2006 06:31      Profile for canadiangeek     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
OHHHHHHHHHHH, that drop spindle [Wink]

If you have a bench lathe with a headstock that will accept your piece and allow you to feed your dowel through it (or access to one), then that's the best way to go.

A Jacob’s chuck in your tailstock will guarantee exact concentricity between your flywheel and the hole for the hook. Care should be taken to ensure that the hook is on-center (where the yarn sits should line-up with the pin that'll be inserted into the dowel); otherwise it'll wobble all over the place.

If you don't have a lathe, I would recommend taking a fairly heavy piece of wood (maple works well, and is inexpensive), and using a hole-saw in a drill to make a perfect circle. For this step, I would recommend a drill press and a vice.

Buy a dowel that is readily available in your local hardware store (be sure it's also hardwood), and use a centering guide to mark the exact center of the dowel. Use your drill-press and vice to drill out the hole in the exact center of the dowel, and use a small level to ensure that the dowel is straight up and down (so the hole for the hook will also be straight). Then just glue the dowel into the flywheel using some good polyurethane adhesive, sand the whole thing, and put a couple of coats of finish on it.

As far as the balancing, rotating it to see if it wobbles is the only thing I can think of, wood is a natural material, and has different densities throughout it. Even if you have all of your parts to exact tolerances, it may still be out of balance.

Please note: This is just my opinion as a woodworker….. I’ve never made one of these things before…… Exactly how fast do these things spin anyway??

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-whenever you build something that's idiotproof, someone comes out with a better idiot-

Posts: 161 | From: Nova Scotia | Registered: Mar 2006  |  IP: Logged
ARJ
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Icon 1 posted October 12, 2006 18:03      Profile for ARJ   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Rhonwyyn, thanks for the link. I do have access to a fair amount of spindle making guides that are similar to that.

I was hoping for something more like canadiangeek's advice: what tools/techniques from a woodworking perspective, because I pretty much only know basic sawing/hammering/screwing type stuff. There's no way I'll be able to buy a lathe at this point, especially not for making a drop spindle which, at the nicest, is worth maybe $60 (and in reality would be worth much less made by a complete amateur). A hole-saw attachment on a drill sounds like more up my alley.

canadiangeek-- should I do anything to the shape of the whorl to help it spin longer? The key isn't necessarily to spin it fast, but to maintain spin for as long as possible. I have no idea what actual speed the thing would be rotating, but the less times I have to give it a twirl, the better.

--------------------
Katie West: Well done steak? Really?

Warren Ellis: Yes. Because MAN COOK MEAT WITH FIRE UNTIL IT NO CRY ANY MORE THEN EAT IT DEAD

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quantumfluff
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Icon 12 posted October 12, 2006 18:04      Profile for quantumfluff     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I've been told I do great work with my wood. [Big Grin]
Posts: 2902 | From: 5 to 15 meters above sea level | Registered: Jun 2000  |  IP: Logged
ARJ
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Icon 1 posted October 12, 2006 23:47      Profile for ARJ   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by quantumfluff:
I've been told I do great work with my wood. [Big Grin]

Ah, fantastic. Mind if I take a drill to it, then? [Razz] [Razz] [Razz]

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Katie West: Well done steak? Really?

Warren Ellis: Yes. Because MAN COOK MEAT WITH FIRE UNTIL IT NO CRY ANY MORE THEN EAT IT DEAD

Posts: 1197 | From: Sydney, NSW, AU | Registered: Jan 2000  |  IP: Logged
quantumfluff
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Icon 12 posted October 13, 2006 06:36      Profile for quantumfluff     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
No thanks, generally I like to do the drilling.
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garlicguy

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Icon 1 posted October 13, 2006 06:47      Profile for garlicguy   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
As long as there's no pile-driving going on...

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I don't know what I was thinking... it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Posts: 3752 | From: Pluto, no matter what you call it, is still my home. | Registered: Dec 2004  |  IP: Logged
quantumfluff
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Icon 1 posted October 13, 2006 08:42      Profile for quantumfluff     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Dare I say ... touché
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Doco

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Icon 1 posted October 13, 2006 08:56      Profile for Doco   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Just keep the knife away from the wood!

Of course you have to expect that some semi-serious topic like this is going to degenerate into puns and innuendo.

However - I'll actually give a semi-serious response (I know - no fun). I do wood working myself, but I don't have a lathe (at least not yet).

A hole saw would work - but they tend to not cut real smooth, and finding one that can create a 3" or 4" disk will be possibly expensive.

My guess at a solution would be to cut a disk using a scroll saw. Drill and glue a dowel into the center. I'd use just plain wood glue - this doesn't need anything fancier. Then - chuck that dowel into the drill press and use that as a poor mans lathe. Using sandpaper smooth and shape it into a shape that you like. Start with some pretty coarse sandpaper (like 36 grit) to do the shaping part. Then use 60, 80, 100, 120, 150, etc until it is smooth enough for you. You *can* skip a grit in there - but you will spend a lot more time using that next grit to get it smooth. By using the drill press to spin and shape it you will make sure that the shaft is in the center of whorl. This should also ensure that it is pretty well balanced - at least balanced enough that you won't notice it below 10k rpms. [Wink]

As to material - whatever dense hardwood you find handy. I usually have plenty of oak around and it works well. Maple is nicer for small things especially as it is a little harder and more dense but more importantly doesn't have a porous grain which can detract from the finish and feel of objects that you handle a lot.

Shape of the whorl. For a longer spin you want more angular momentum. The best way to do that is to have more weight farther from the center and spin it faster. Since I am guessing this is gotten going from being spun by hand the rotation speed is limited and basically fixed. So - you want it heavier - use maple or oak (not pine) - or something really dense like ipe (but you will be sanding FOREVER with that)). Make the disc bigger in diameter. If you want form the disc so it is thicker around the outer edge than in the center. That will reduce the overall weight and give some visual interest but keep the mass along the outer rim which will help keep it spinning.

Dont worry about the shape and it's air resistance - the air resistance over a spinning disk at low speeds like this is so small that it won't matter.

I hope this helps some.

Posts: 419 | From: Minneapolis, MN | Registered: Mar 2000  |  IP: Logged
canadiangeek
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Icon 1 posted October 13, 2006 12:35      Profile for canadiangeek     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
ARJ,

The answer is just as DOCO said, you want a dense hardwood. The reason I suggested maple (birch works well too), is that it's part of the main three where I live (birch, oak, and maple). I would, however, stay away from oak. It tends to not sand as easily, and the little burrs that result may catch on the yarn. Choose a piece that has a tight grain, and no knots (if you can), sand it THUROUGHLY when your done (I'd recommend starting at 100, and working up to 400)... then finish it with three coats of varethane (or whatever finish you want).

Although I can see the warrants of useing a scroll saw... the hole-saws are only $40ish, and they do cut relatively well if you go slowly. Also, an off-center flywheel in the drillpress can wobble quite severely.

I still suggest useing a hole-saw (with a good mandrell). You can get these commonly up to 5", and even larger if you look in the right spot. Plus, the pilot drill will ensure that you have a hole in the exact center of the wheel. Then, you just replace the hole saw in your drill-press for a larger bit (the size of your dowell), center it with your hole, and drill it out.

I'd say that if you have a scroll-saw, bandsaw, or even a jig-saw to try DOCO's method first (less upfront cost). If it doesn't work out, give the hole-saw a try (plus the hole-saw will be faster when you're churning out thousands of these things for people at $100 each [Smile] )

Polyurethane glues are slightly better than regular wood glues due to their resistance to water, and their flexibility. Either way I would still emphasize taking a small square to ensure that your dowell and your flywheel are at a perfect 90 degrees (otherwise it'll wobble).

I would say that the best thing to do is to buy a couple of feet of birch, a length of dowell, and try making a couple. Believe me, you'll learn more from your mistakes than you ever will having me tell you over the computer. That being said, if you do happen to stumble into some problems, just message me, and I'll do my best to try and give you a hand.

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-whenever you build something that's idiotproof, someone comes out with a better idiot-

Posts: 161 | From: Nova Scotia | Registered: Mar 2006  |  IP: Logged
Doco

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Icon 1 posted October 13, 2006 18:23      Profile for Doco   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I'll go along with what canadiangeek said. The hole saw is better in that you will probably get a better more closely balanced disc to start with. However, not knowing the tools you have on hand I am guessing it will be a little more expensive.

Thinking about this some more - do you have a belt sander available? If so, you can use that to make a perfectly round disc. What you need is a rough cut disc with a hole in the center. That hole you put on a pivot point (a small bolt that makes an axel) Then you slowly rotat the disc into the stationary belt sander to make it round. That doesn't sound very descriptive in text - If you have such a beast maybe I'll try to draw a picture or maybe set it up and take a photo.

As for polyurethane glue - it is stronger, and waterproof and maybe more flexible - but I still like plain yellow glue better for anything that isn't going into a wet environment. Even normal yellow glue is stronger than the wood itself, and polyurethane has this annoying habit of foaming exactly where I don't want it to. Difference of preference there.

Let us know what you come up with. Pictures too please!

Posts: 419 | From: Minneapolis, MN | Registered: Mar 2000  |  IP: Logged
ARJ
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Icon 1 posted October 15, 2006 19:53      Profile for ARJ   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Hmm... lots of good info. Thanks very much Doco & canadiangeek. Some clarifications:

I have almost *no* woodworking tools beyond a basic power drill and a crude old hand-held power sander (probably wouldn't work well for this application since it's more designed to sand a large, flat surface not a small disc-shaped surface, but I might be able to rig up something like Doco was describing), some small handsaws, hammer, and assorted screwdrivers. Whether or not I can access/rent something a little more heavy duty at the hardware store is something I haven't looked into much yet.

I'm not looking at producing large amounts of drop spindles for sale for other people. It's more of an academic exercise in understanding what makes a good drop spindle (apart from trying out others that have already been built). Also, the motivation is to build some lighter weight, smaller spindles than I currently own. I have some fibres (silk and cotton, mainly) that don't do well being pulled down by my current smallest spindle (the fibre tends to break while it's being drafted). I was thinking of making something small, maybe .4oz or so, a high whorl spindle that can help me create finer, lightweight yarns/threads.

Conclusions:

To start out with, I think I'll still try the hole-saw attachment for a power drill. Even a 2"-3" disc should be fine for my purposes. Hand sanding sounds like it could be tedious, but I might give it a try. Failing that, I might see whether the hardware store can rent me or do for me. In terms of wood, I think I'll see what I can find in the way of local hardwoods or whatever I can afford; or maybe look for reclaimed/recycled hardwood. For the small amount of materials I want to deal with I doubt that'll be too much of an issue.

Alternate tack: I've read a few things about making a "ceramic" whorl with polymer clay. That might be easier since I have limited tools to work with.

--------------------
Katie West: Well done steak? Really?

Warren Ellis: Yes. Because MAN COOK MEAT WITH FIRE UNTIL IT NO CRY ANY MORE THEN EAT IT DEAD

Posts: 1197 | From: Sydney, NSW, AU | Registered: Jan 2000  |  IP: Logged


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