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I Forge Iron

Spinning Wheel Parts and How were they made

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I know at least a couple out there are familiar with spinning wheels for spinning yarn.  There isn't much iron on the antiques but the little there is was often forged.  I make items for the fiber people and more than occasionally do repairs.  The old flyer axles (or mandrels) consist of a shaft and an orifice.  The orifice is often wore out, rusted, jagged and paper thin and I often repair the orifice so the remaining shaft can fit back in the original wood.  

My question is how were the originals forged.  Here are a few:


These are hard to chuck in a lathe so I made a holder with 2 spiders so I can dial them into center, cut off the old tube, create a shoulder in the area of the collar, then turn and press on a new orifice that I braze.



Here is a fixed antique .  The forged taper fits right back in the  original wood.



I ponder how the originals were made.  My guess is the smith started with a round shaft,   upset the end and hammered out the tapered square section,  punched and drift the eye,  then add the tube and collar.   There is usually some left hand threading about an inch in from the end that may have been single pointed on a treadle lathe? but not sure. The left hand thread keeps the drive pulley from loosening(matching square nut inlayed in wood pulley)  The flyers typically ride in oiled leather bearings. One at the orifice end, and one at the far end.  The orifice on shafts that are in good condition usually look machined either before (if added separately) or after forging.

I would like to make some of these like the originals.  I don't think my hammering skills are up to it yet so I'm reaching out for opinions on a method and logical order of making this item.  Any thoughts or comments would be greatly appreciated.  



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Seeing as lathes are one of the oldest mechnisms in the human took kit I don't see a problem machining them.

However if you want to forge them, I'd make a closed die like a bolt header; closed die so the bearing section is properly centered. Then punch the orifice and clean up in the die set. Lastly forge the point, polish and finish. Lanolin yes?

Tell the ladies to be more gentle with the orifice hooks. :blink: Of course there isn't a rule saying you can't make them from oh say 1045 and harden them, they'll last longer. Case hardening for abrasion resistence would be "traditional" for the last couple milennia or you could go all late 19th century and chrome them.

I'm sure glad none of the spinners around here think I can do that!:o

Frosty The Lucky.


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Metal lathes for most of the last two centuries look a lot like modern wood lathes, including free handed tooling. I would not be surprised if they didn’t forge a blank and finish it on a simple lathe.

i have had an opertunity to repair a cuple linen wheals. Including forging new brass bushings, replacing the leather bushings and replacing the little hooks interesting to see one up and running producing thread out of fleece 


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I had a Barnes #6 lathe for a bit.  The treadle mechanism was long gone and the 3rd generation farmer converted it to electric.  Had it been original I probably would still have it and think it would be very suited to work like this.  

There are spinning wheel groups in just about every town and they all need something repaired eventually.  Sounds like Frosty wants to get in on some of it :)

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14 hours ago, RHayes said:

Sounds like Frosty wants to get in on some of it :)

Not me! I don't know of any spindle wheels that aren't more curiosity or educational wheels. Everybody I know of uses spools on the flier. Parts are easily available for a LOT less than I charge for shop rate. YES my shop rate goes up for jobs I don't want! Don't be silly. <_<

Lathes ARE ancient, there is argument about whether they predate walking beam pumps and hammers but it's close. A spring pole lathe can be made with a: couple points, say sharpened nails, a tree crotch, a springy branch and some cordage. The super finely made chalices, goblets, "or whatever you call the vessels" in TutAnkhamen's tomb were spun. 

The same sort of lathe that spun goblets will cut the dies, just different blades for steel than wood, brass, bronze, etc. Do that on the spring pole sharpening wheel or hand stone.

The term lathe is derived from a flat wood spring that powers the spring pole tools. The name of the wooden spring? Lathe. Another common use before sheet rock backs the plaster in "lathe and plaster" wall sheathing.

Humans have been twisting cordage and weaving cloth for a long LONG time. Paleo archeologists were surprised when they discovered Otzi the ice man was wearing woven clothing. I thought that was a silly thing to be surprised at, Otzi dates from about the time (Great pyramid) Kufu's Father was building pyramids in Egypt and they were wearing cotton and flax kilts / robes.

I think it's interesting that spring pole tools lasted as long as they did, spinning wheels are the earliest examples (that I know of) of cranks and pitman arms converting linear motion to rotary.

Frosty The Lucky.

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