Thursday, October 29, 2015

Scrap Wood Projects: Making a Drop Spindle and a Covered Yarn Bowl-Discussion and Plans

Hi Everyone,

I've got a couple of projects here that will not only help you make a dent in that ever growing pile of scrap wood in your shop but will generate a couple of holiday gifts for friends or family who like to knit and crochet: a drop spindle and a covered yarn bowl. Both are easy to do and don't require much wood.

First the drop spindle-a friend of mine contacted me last week and asked me if I could make her a drop spindle as she wanted to make her own yarn and if you google "drop spindle" you'll see a variety of different devices that consists of two parts: a broad flat wheel called a whorl and a spindle and for references sake here are photos of the one that I made:

If you look closely there is a small metal hook on the whorl end of the spindle and a shallow cove on the opposite end.

I had no idea what this device does so I got on YouTube and found the following video to illustrate the device in action so I would know just what this thing is supposed to do and here is the video I watched:

There is also a very good discussion on exactly how spindles work at Ask the Bellwether: Which Spindle Spins the Best?  On this site, several different designs are discussed and this is the take away from that:

  • The spindle needs to be heavy and long enough for so the spindle doesn't wobble and it's usable like the one on the video,
  • The whorl needs to have most of it's mass along the rim of the whorl for it to spin and spin true.

My friend also requested a spindle that was 12 1/2" long with a whorl that was 3 1/2" wide. The selection of the wood was left to me.

Make a drop spindle out of scrap lumber out of hickory and white oak.

The process is fairly simple and took about an hour to make. I made the spindle first out of a stick of white oak and I turned it down to 3/8" in diameter. I also turned a shallow cove on each end of the spindle, sanded it and then cut if off the lathe and set it aside:

The whorl was out of a small piece of 1" thick hickory:

And here it is mounted on the lathe. I trued up the face and side and then I turned it down to about 3/4" thick:

And I shaped the whorl by leaving the rim fairly thick, the center a little thinner, and the center thick enough to hold the spindle securely (and I apologize for not supplying measurements here as I've lost the pad I wrote them on). Here in this photo you can see me drilling a hole exactly in the center of the whorl with a forstener bit:

This is the whorl after it's been turned:

Before I took the parts off the lathe, I sanded them very smoothly so yarn won't snag and I finished it with spray lacquer. Lastly I screwed in a small eye hook and opened it slightly with a pair of needle nose pliers and it was finished.

And this is what it looked like:

This is a very simple one-if you have other types of wood, especially colorful exotics, this would make a really lovely present.

Ok, since the next project is in progress I'll talk about that in a separate post.


*Which Spindle Spins the Best? Copyright March 2007 Amelia of


  1. Thanks Alison. Show this to your mom. If she would like one, let me know. It would be an honor to make her one. VW

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