A. Introduction

The purpose of this part of this web page is to discuss the how to construct a drop spindle. For the purpose of this page the size wheel used is 2 3/4 inch wheel with a 3/8 inch hole and staff will be a 12 inch dowel rod, 3/8 inch in circumference.

B. Supplies

one small wood file 1/4 inch in size
one 2 3/4 inch wood wheel with a 3/8 hole
one 3/8 circumference dowel rod
one small wood saw.
one ruler with metric/inches
one small hammer wood glue
one large pencil sharpener
sand paper in coarse, medium,, fine, and very fine.
fine steel wool or final stripping pads
tung oil

C. Sanding the wheel

This first step in the construction of a drop spindle is the sanding of the wheel. First use the coarse sand paper and sand off the factory finish off. You should have a plain looking wheel. In fact it should be a little lighter in color the before you sanded it. Next move on to the medium sand paper, this will start to smooth out the wheel. The medium sand paper will take the coarse marks off the wheel that the coarse sand paper left. When you can not get the wheel any smoother with the medium sand paper move on to the fine sand paper. Do the same thing that you did with the medium sand paper. The Fine sand paper will smooth out the wheel a lot more and the wheel will at this point start to feel a lot smoother. Once you have finished with the fine sand paper you start with the very fine sand paper. The very fine sand paper smooths the wheel out but also buffs the wheel. The wheel will feel very smooth. DO NOT SAND THE DOWEL ROD.... this will come later.

D. Decorating the wheel (optional)

After you have sanded the wheel and it is nice and smooth, you can choose to decorate it. The most common way is to paint something such as your arms, badge, or a nice picture on the spindle. I don't suggest carving on the spindle because carving can effect the balance of the wheel. The same goes for an uneven painting on the wheel. If you look at the wheel, you will see that it has two different sides, a smooth one and a ridged one. I like to call the ridged side , the fancy side. The fancy side of the wheel is just that fancy, and more than likely looks good by it's self. I suggest painting on the smooth side of the wheel. If your choose to decorate your wheel, it should set up a minimum of overnight before you continue working on your spindle.

E. Affixing the wheel to the dowel rod

First your take your dowel rod and cut it down to 12 to 13 inches. I like 13 inches for the fact that it gives me "opps" room, but if your cut the rod at 12 inches you can make three drop spindles out of one dowel rod. Play with the different sizes and see what works best for you. Once you have cut your dowel rod, take the wheel and the rod, put the rod into the hole of the wheel making sure the flat side of the wheel is facing up. With the flat part of your hand tap the wheel on to the rod. If your dowel rod does no pass through the wheel, take your leather worker hammer and gently tap the wheel until it is about 2 inched pass the fancy side of the wheel. If the dowel rod passes though the wheel easily, then it is time to get out the wood glue. Take the wheel off the rod and put a few drops of wood glue in the hole of the wheel. Move the wheel until two inches of the dowel rod has passed through the fancy side of the wheel. Be careful of how much wood glue you use, if you get too much on it the wheel will look uneven when you put the tung oil on. If your used glue it is best to wait until the next day to continue on to the next step.

F. Bottom point and sanding the dowel rod

At this point your work should look somewhat like a drop spindle. Now take a pencil sharpener and turn the spindle over until you looking at the fancy side of the wheel with the 2 inches sticking out. Place the sharpener over the rod and sharpen to a point. After you have done this spin the spindle like a top, it should spin nice and even just like a top. After you have tested your spindle your need to sand the dowel rod just like you did the wheel. First using the coarse sandpaper then moving on to the medium, fine and very fine sandpaper. Make sure you round the top of your spindle so that it does not cut the wool as you spin.

G. Grooving the top

From the top of your spindle measure down two centimeters and mark your rod. Take your file and place it on the mark. Slowly turn the wheel so that the file cuts a groove into the rod. Try to keep it even, this is easier said that done. If your groove is a little uneven, this should have little effect on your work. Your groove should be about 1/4 inch wide and about 1/8 inch deep. If your go too deep you weaken your rod but if your don't go deep enough the spun work will not hold in the groove.

H. Tung oil

Now your are ready to tung oil your drop spindle. First make sure you are in a well vented room, this stuff smells bad and can make you sick. Open the tung oil and dip your dobber in it. Put a light coat of the tung oil the drop spindle. Let it dry for two hours then take your steel wool and lightly buff. Put on the next coat and let stand overnight, then lightly buff it the next day. The amount of time need to sit may very depending on the humidity of your area. You may repeat these steps as many times as you like, the more tung oil you use the better your drop spindle will look. Be careful you don't fill in the groove at the top of the spindle.

I. Summery

By following these simple steps you should be able to build a drop spindle as good as any store bought one out there. You can use any size wheel and dowel rod that fits the wheel. I suggest that you do not go smaller than two inches or larger than three inches. What ever you decide, you should enjoy your new drop spindle.

Homemade Drop spindle by Lemoine D. Beers II
This is one of my homemade drop spindles

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