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Home-made Drop Spindles

I was intrigued by the idea of making drop spindles using old CDs for the whorl. I have seen instructions on the internet to make them and thought I would try my hand at a few since I will be teaching a spinning to some children in a few weeks.

There is big difference between something that is home-made and something that is hand-crafted. All my drop spindles are home-made. Not one of them is beautiful, and not one of them took me more than 15 minutes to make. They aren’t beautiful, but they work well. I’ve spun enough on one of my home-made spindles to knit a small back-pack, so I know they work just fine.

I found the instructions for CD drop spindles at Lifestyle Studies helpful, but I didn’t follow them exactly. They do a good job with instructions, so if you are interested, take a look at their link.

I was able to find some old CDs as well as some cup hooks at home. I had to purchase a dowel and a few rubber grommets at the local hardware store. I found the grommets by the electrical supplies. They were only 35 cents each.

I didn’t use the blind well nuts as directed in the instructions on Lifestyle Studies, mostly because I’m a cheapskate. I teach for the fun of it and generally don’t charge ‘tuition’ so if I can keep my cost down, then I feel better about my hobbies.

I glued 2 CDs together with some E6000 Crafter’s glue and let them dry overnight. I brought my glued CDs to the store, stuck the grommet in the hole and found a dowel that would fit through the hole.

At home I cut the dowel into 12″ sections and sharpened one end with a pocket knife. (Vet2Be helped sharpen a few, too.) Then we put the dowel shaft through the CDs with the rubber grommets in place. Since the fit was snug, but not tight, I decided to run a bead of E6000 Crafter’s Glue around the bottom of the grommet where it meets the dowel. It made the whole contraption much more secure.

One of my Sheepy friends said I could probably use masking tape to enlarge the dowel to fit in the CD as well. So I also gave that a try, too. I still had two sections of dowel left as well as a few more CDs and cup hooks. I’m almost always willing to experiment, and this experiment saved me 35 cents!

One of the blogs I visited said that she didn’t like the CD whorl because it wobbled. I was concerned about that since having a fairly well balanced spindle makes it much easier to learn to spin. It is hard enough to teach kids to spin with a drop spindle, if I give them a spindle that wobbles I would be setting them up for failure. I would much rather have students (children or adults) succeed. In order to get the shaft straight so it wouldn’t wobble, I put the drop spindle together with glue around the shaft, then put it in a jar to get the shaft straight. I lined up the shaft with a corner (most of my house is plumb) and let the glue dry overnight.

This is one of the CD spindles with tape around the shaft sitting in a jar to make sure that the shaft stays plumb while the glue is drying.

When I tried the spindle the next day I found that it wasn’t wobbly at all. I did end up with one drop spindle that was a little wobbly, but that is because I wasn’t careful when I glued the two CDs together. One CD was shifted just a bit to the side.

The other drop spindle in the first photo is made with a round wooden base with a hole drilled in the center. Hubby drilled the hole for me. I found the wooden base at Wal*Mart a few years ago for about $1. I have also used wooden wheels that I found at craft stores for the whorl. The CD drop spindles are definately cheaper.

The only thing I would do differently on the CD spindles is use hardwood dowels. The hardware store only had pine dowels, so that is what I bought. My old wooden spindles all have hardwood dowels for the shaft. I like the feel of the hardwood better. It is also easier to drill a pilot hole for the cup hook in the hardwood dowels.

One thing I did notice about the CD whorls is that they are much slipperier around the edge. So when I ‘lock up’ the yarn around the bottom, it tends to slip around the CD. The wooden whorls don’t have that problem. I haven’t thought of a way to fix that problem yet. I know that will make it a bit trickier for students to ‘lock up’ the yarn.

A view of the bottoms of 3 drop spindles. Left to right: a wooden whorl made from a sculpture base found at Wal*Mart (yes, that is a rubber band holding the wooden whorl on the shaft), CD whorl with tape to enlarge the spindle, CD whorl with a rubber grommet.

I now have 11 drop spindles, 4 made from CDs and 7 made from wooden parts. That’s enough to teach a bunch of people how to spin!

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