Build Your Own Electric Spinning Wheel

I’ve designed a better electric spinning wheel that is cheaper to make and include detailed build instructions. I also sell kits for this new version. Here is that project’s homepage.

This article is dedicated to Emily.  Without her love of spinning and knitting wool I wouldn’t have had willing test subject for my wacky spinning wheel contraptions.

Intro to Basic Spinning Wheel Mechanics

All spinning wheels have a bobbin and a flyer.  The bobbin holds the spun yarn and the flyer is what twists the yarn onto the bobbin.  The big drive wheel on non-electric spinning wheels is just there to help spin the flyer faster.  The electric spinning wheel is much smaller because a small electric motor spins fast enough to eliminate the need for the big drive wheel.

There are a wide variety of spinning wheels.  The one I choose to make is the Scotch Tension design.  This version uses a brake on the bobbin to control how fast the uptake of the yarn happens.  The uptake of the yarn is how fast it is put onto the bobbin.  A slower uptake means the yarn will have more twists per foot.  Different types of yarn require different amounts of twisting.

This simplification leaves a lot out and you can read more about spinning wheels on Wikipedia or by searching google.

The main advantage to an electric spinning wheel is that it can be made smaller and is thus more portable.  Another advantage is that getting a good well balanced mechanical spinning wheel can be tricky and an unbalanced wheel isn’t as easy or fast to use.  I’ve found that electrical ones can be built for between $50 and $150.  Mass produced electrical spinning wheels cost $2000 and cheap looking pvc ebay models sell for $300-$500.  I really feel this market is being exploited and it would be awesome if this article starts a little more competition.

Overview Iterations

Like most engineering problems it took me a few iterations to get everything working well.  Below are the five versions it took me to get everything working well.

One

This version was never completed.  It never spun any wool, but it helped me understand the workings of the bobbin and flyer.

Two

The second iteration worked well and it cost me around $50.  It used a cheap surplus AC motor.  The big problem was that this version was it was constant speed and Emily wanted it to go a little faster.  I tried adding a resistor based dimmer switch to my system to control speed of the motor.  The dimmer switch’s packaging specifically said not to use it with motors.  While I thought I knew better, but it turned out that I didn’t.  I seemed like it was going to work, but after a little while the switch released it’s magic smoke molecules.  If you don’t need variable speed I’d suggest getting an AC motor like this.  At $10 this motor is a steal.  You can use a standard lighting switch to turn it on and off.  I also wired in a switch to reverse the motor which can be useful since you spin yarn in one direction and then ply strands of yarn together in the other direction.

Three

This version changed to an AC sewing machine motor so that we’d have variable speed and I made a nice box to make it more portable.  I used this $35 sewing machine motor.  The problem is that the AC motor did not have enough torque at lower speeds.  I knew that AC motors didn’t have as much torque as DC motors at slow speeds, but thought that it would be good enough.  I was wrong.  I’m sure some a bigger AC motor would work, but this one did not cut it.  At high speeds it worked fine because there was more torque, but high speeds were too fast for an mortal spinner’s hands.  It was amusing watching Emily try and keep up with the high speeds :-)

Four

Version four used this dc motor, power supply, and motor controller.  I had avoided DC because it’s more expensive, but it’s still only around $100 with these parts and I’m sure with some searching cheaper parts could be found.  One issue I had to solve is that the motor controller by default pulsed at 260 hz which gave caused an annoying hum.  I increased the pulse frequency on the motor controller so it was outside the human hearing range by replacing the 470K ohm R5 resistor with a 47K ohm resistor.  In theory this reduced the efficiency of the motor, but it still seemed to have enough power for my needs.  This version worked fine for a few minutes and then the magic smoke molecules were released.  I never liked this motor controller so my next version needed to buff up the motor controller.

Five

I kept the box the same as my last version.  All I did was change to using the SyRen 10A motor controller and put this battery in parallel with the power supply.  The reason I put the battery in parallel is to protect and sink the energy from the SyRen regenerative motor driver.  Here is a good tutorial with a little more info about this. An added benefit of the battery is you can use the spinning wheel for an hour or two in remote locations.  This has turned out to be very useful for Emily.  I’ve been extremely happy with the SyRen motor controller and if I ever need a high quality motor controller in the future I’ll certainly consider using this or one of the other SyRen controllers.

The best news is that this version of the electronic spinning wheel works great!  Here is a video of Emily using it.

Electric Spinning Wheel Design

The motor and electronics I used are linked above.  I used these pulleys (smaller, bigger) from McMaster.  I also order these aluminum pipes (smaller, bigger).  The rest is just wood, bolts, washers, a spacer, an elastic strap, glue, and 6 inches of 1/8×3/4″ aluminum bar.  I got all this stuff from Home Depot.  I estimate the total cost to be around $150 and this would be less if you built more than one since there is a lot of extra material left after the build.  I’m also sure I could find cheaper versions of many of the parts if I did more searching.

Here is a diagram of the my electric spinning wheel.

Flyer Design

The bobbin can freely spin on the flyer.  If there was no brake on the bobbin then it would spin at the same speed as the flyer and the yarn would get very twisty, but it would never get put onto the bobbin.  The scotch tension brake causes the bobin to spin more slowly than the flyer allowing some twist to the yarn and some uptake.  Uptake is the term of the yarn getting pulled onto the bobbin.  If you applied a full break so the bobin never spun then there would only be uptake and the yarn would have no twists which would also not work.  Spinners know that they need to adjust the Stotch tension brake to get a good mix of uptake and twist.  The less twists in the yarn the fluffier it is.  Knitters will want different amounts of twists in their yarn depending on what they are knitting.

Here is a diagram and picture the explains my flyer/bobbin design.

That should do it.  If you have any questions let me know in the comments secontion and I’ll try to answer them.

Update

I’ve made some improvements by adding nylon bushings, a box to hold the electronics, and a redesign of the frame.  Here are some pictures.

The last picture shows how I added some straps to the frame.  This makes the electric spinning wheel extremely easy to move.  This has been a big plus with spinners who often what to move it around.

Here is a video showing how to use the spinning wheel.


Here is a video showing how to setup and adjust the spinning wheel.

New part list:

There are nylon bushings that I got from home depot.  These are embedded into the box to help reduce noise.  They are 3/8 inch long, have in inner diameter of 1/2 and an outer diameter of 1 inch.  The important part here is the inner diameter and the other 2 dimensions could change if needed.  I had to cut out a notch so the pipe that holds the bobbin could slide into these.

The bobbins are no longer made using aluminum pipe.  They use 2 short pieces of this nylon tubing as spacers.  You need to run a 1/2 inch drill threw these spacers a few times so they spin freely on the 1/2 aluminum pipe.  Then these spacers are glued into this larger nylon tubing.  Then just like before you put some wooden circles onto the bobbin and your done.

84 Comments

  1. Jake said,

    January 17, 2009 @ 4:34 am

    Hello, your design looks interesting. Just want to ask how the bobbin is made to spin, since it can spin freely on the flyer. (The motor is connected to the flyer’s aluminium pipe?)

  2. Glacial Wanderer said,

    January 17, 2009 @ 1:30 pm

    Yes, the motor is connected to the flyer’s aluminium pipe. If you just turn it on without any yarn then it does just what you were thinking. The flyer spins and the bobbin is stationary. It is the yarn being spun around by the flyer and put onto the bobbin that spins the bobbin.

  3. Velvet said,

    January 18, 2009 @ 4:34 pm

    Love your electric spinning wheel adventures! You definitely made the specifics so much more easier to understand and I may just make myself one of these babies (version # 4, of course!)

  4. Sara said,

    January 24, 2009 @ 12:46 am

    Wow, this is very exciting for me! You are so right that the market is exploited, because we NEED these things! Seriously, though, they cost waaay more than they are worth. Recently I’ve had two knee surgeries recently and havent been able to use my wheel in months! I was shopping around for electric wheels when I found this article. In terms of DMS, I could use my flyer and bobbins, but I am not a electrical or “handy” , are you thinking of selling these? : )

  5. Lorna said,

    January 31, 2009 @ 9:43 pm

    Hello, & thank you for sharing your invention, and the process of beginning to refinement – It sure is quieter as a result. I would like to know how much yarn is able to be wound onto the bobbin, i.e. four/eight ounces. Is the orifice the inner diameter of the smaller pipe (.370″)? What if one wanted to spin larger diameter yarn (1/2 – 1 inch)? – Would you simply get a larger size of the orifice pipe? What if you used a smaller sized orifice (for finer spinning) – Is that possible?
    Do you have a detailed list of parts available, such as kind of bushings, the part that the orifice sits in, etc.? Does the rear-end of the bobbin have a groove in it for string? Okay, I’m done with questions, for my head hurts. LOL.

  6. Glacial Wanderer said,

    February 1, 2009 @ 7:14 am

    Thanks for the questions Lorna. I’m sure your curiosity will help others too. Yes, noise was one of the biggest problems. It is now much smoother and quieter.

    Yes the orifice is the inner diameter of the smaller pipe (0.370 inches). Note that you need to drill a hole in this pipe and this will be slightly smaller than the inner this 0.370 inches. I used a 5/16 inch drill (0.31225) so that is the largest yarn I can accommodate in the machine. If you want a bigger opening then you should be able to use bigger pipe and drill a bigger hole. I looked at a few standard spinning wheels and my machine actually accepts larger yarn than any of them. 1/2-1 inch yarn sound way bigger than anything I’ve seen, but if you have a need then the machine should be able to accommodate it. There is no need to use a smaller orifice pipe for finer yarn. The current sized pipe can make thicker or thinner yarn. It all depends on how the spinner is feeding the raw wool into the machine. I’ve seen Emily spin really fine Marino yarn for socks and really thick Alpaca yarn for a sweeter with this machine.

    I added a list of the new parts I used in the post above since everyone will want to know that.

    I don’t know what you mean by the bobbin having a groove to hold the yarn. I’m pretty sure the answer is no, but if you explain it better or why you think it should be there then I can give a definitive answer.

    I called Emily and she is going to weight and get back to me soon with how many ounces of yarn fits on each bobbin. I’ll post again when I have that info.

  7. Lorna said,

    February 1, 2009 @ 7:39 pm

    I cannot emphasize enough that the information you’ve provided is a godsend.

    With respect to the bobbins, I was simply confused when looking at the top-down view of the machine, for I couldn’t quite make out where the yarn (near the motor) was going to/from. My mistake.

    How far into the larger nylon tubing, do the nylon spacers have to be inserted? Are they completely inserted or exposed somewhat? We still need the smaller aluminum pipe but not the bigger one (1658T49), as the bigger one was for making the bobbins at one time?

    Many thanks!

  8. Glacial Wanderer said,

    February 1, 2009 @ 10:40 pm

    You are correct that I no longer use the larger aluminum pipe. That has been replaced with nylon tubing. The nylon spacers are inserted until they are flush with the ends of the nylon tubing. I just tap the spacers into the tubing with a hammer until flush. It’s not critical that they are flush, this just seems like the easiest way to do it. You do need to make sure the total length of the bobbin fits on the flyer. I currently use 8 inch bobbins. I arrived at that size by making the rest of the machine and then seeing what size bobbin fit.

    If anyone wants to buy a version of this spinning wheel instead of building it, then I put one for sale on my Etsy account. http://hobbyrobotics.etsy.com/

  9. Glacial Wanderer said,

    February 2, 2009 @ 2:30 pm

    The bobbins hold 8+ oz of yarn.

  10. Lorna said,

    February 3, 2009 @ 8:40 pm

    A few more questions, please.

    Firstly, what is the rubber piece that rotates around the pulley, and where might I obtain it from? Where did you obtain the front ON-OFF and Speed Control from? What are the Holders made of, that are used for making the yarn travel on the wooden dowel? What size is the dowel? What size of wood is it that holds both dowel pieces?

    The bobbins, by the way, are HUGE and, therefore, ultra-convenient. By comparison, conventional bobbins have a capacity of 3 – 3 1/2 ounces. Yours has a WOW factor!

    Well Mr. Glacial-wanderer-professional engineer-inventor, you’ve created a fine machine! Maybe you’ll look at the Woolee Winder and make your own version for a surprise for your wife – Shhh! LOL

  11. Lorna said,

    February 3, 2009 @ 8:50 pm

    Oops, forgot to mention: What parts are needed to make the tensioner?

  12. Glacial Wanderer said,

    February 4, 2009 @ 9:38 am

    That’s a lot of questions, but I should be able to answer them :)

    The belt that rotates the pulleys is a piece of silicon tubing. You can probably get this at home depot a pet store (aquariums) or order it from http://www.mcmaster.com/nav/enter.asp?partnum=5234K251. You will also need a 1/2 inch piece of smaller tubing to go inside the larger tubing and then you glue it together to form a loop.

    The on/off switch is a 10+ amp 12V switch I got from Radio Shack. The speed control is a 10K or 100K potentiometer and a dial which are also from Radio Shack.

    The yarn holders are key ring circles with those some of those cloth hair rubber-band-things glued on. The dowels are 1/2 or 5/8 inch (either work). The wood piece holding the dowels is 7×1.5×0.75 inches.

    The tensioner is made out of a 2×9 inch piece of wood with a notch cut out where the bobbin is and then a piece of a a cloth stretchy binding strap I found at home depot. You just want the strap to apply friction and so it probably doesn’t need to be stretchy, but I think stretchy makes it easier to make fine adjustments to the tensioner.

    Good luck!

  13. Beverly said,

    February 5, 2009 @ 4:25 pm

    Wow, great information! Thank you for sharing the details. I am disabled. I have never been physically able to use a traditional spinning wheel, nor could I afford one. I will try to find someone handy to build one of your designs for me. I wish I could afford to buy one of yours. Thank you!

  14. Robin Stewart said,

    February 5, 2009 @ 5:13 pm

    Thanks so much!! If I can get my husband on board(and that shouldn’t be hard) this looks like this would be a fun project for us, me because I’ve wanted ANY kind of spinning wheel for a while now, and him because….well because he’s a man.
    I don’t have any questions yet, but if I do I’m coming back!!! Thanks! You’re my new hero.

  15. Glacial Wanderer said,

    February 5, 2009 @ 5:59 pm

    I’m so glad people are finding this useful! I’m sort of sad that I’m charging $375 for them, but considering how long they take me to make I need to charge that. I’ve started selling them at: http://www.glacialwanderer.com/store/Electric_Spinning_Wheel/. I think that’s a good price since the the Ashford model is $1000 (I doubt it’s any better), but I do understand that $375 is still more than many can afford. That’s what this page is all about, you can save some money and build your own. I hope everybody who can’t afford the ones built by me (or would just rather build their own) can find someone to help them build it.

    If anybody finishes one it would be great if you’d post your results here. If you want you can even email me a picture and I’ll post it on this site.

  16. Robin Stewart said,

    February 5, 2009 @ 7:07 pm

    I know, I’d love to buy yours but it’s about the same price as a standard wheel, like an Ashford kiwi(can you tell I’ve been eyeing it??). Not that I blame you for the pricing!! Your time and services are valuable! And if I try this and fail I’ll probably buy it. But…you’re still my hero for giving us a great guide and design idea.

  17. Glacial Wanderer said,

    February 6, 2009 @ 8:45 am

    If you’re not sure that you’ll have the skills to build it, then I’d suggest going to home depot and buying the plywood, nylon spacers, and aluminum tubing to see if you can make the main base. This is the most time consuming part, but the parts are cheap and easy to buy. If this works out then buy the other parts you need to make the bobbin from mcMasters. If you are confident everything will still work at this point you can by the more expensive parts (motor, motor controller and power supply). This way if you fail you’d only loose a little money.

    One other build tip I forgot to mention. The ID-1/2″ OD-5/8″ spacers that go inside the bobbin and spin on the aluminum tube will not spin freely on the aluminum tube by default. I usually stick a 1/2″ drill in the spacer and twist it around until the hole is a little bigger so that it spins freely on the aluminum tube.

  18. Lorna said,

    February 10, 2009 @ 6:53 pm

    I’ve got a name for your product: Spin In A Box!

  19. Gail said,

    February 24, 2009 @ 12:48 pm

    I ve got several old (30 years+) sewing machines that work great. Could I modify one of these machines to build something comprable to this? Most of the parts needed are already there and the peddle from the sewing machine would control the speed. Maybe take the machine apart and modify only the sewing arm apparatus? Most of the older machines were pretty standard, If you could come up with something we could attach or maybe most of the major parts are already present in the machine etc… Im reaching I know … Im not great with electronics but I can hold my own with power tools I can usually fix just about anything, so I thought if I could start past the electical part I might be able to do it on my own.

    These machines are heavy made well not like the garbage out their today. One of the machines I have is the Stradivarius shown 2nd picture down at this link: http://www.loti.com/fifties_history/Golden_Age_of_Sewing_Machines.htm

    You can get these machines cheaply from a thrift store sometimes if you keep your eyes open I bought 1 for $5 and it works beautifully.

    Just a thought. Look forward to your reply.

  20. Glacial Wanderer said,

    February 24, 2009 @ 1:27 pm

    The good news is since the motor already spins you don’t need to worry much about the electronics.

    I’m not sure if it would work. You’d want to get the motor out and see how much power it has and make a judgment call on whether it would be strong enough. You might find that the torque is too little at slower speeds since it’s an AC motor. If this is the case maybe you could make it a constant speed like version #2 above. All you’d need to do is make sure you pick pulleys sized correctly so that full speed is a reasonable speed for spinning wool.

  21. Nette said,

    March 11, 2009 @ 9:20 am

    First, thank you for documenting your construction / improvement journey! Your instructions are so clear, my hubby is going to take a stab at the electric parts, and I’m going to tackle the flyer and bobbins. I’m quite excited, cause my treadle knee is getting worse and worse. =D

    Second, there is a pulley that comes out of the motor, that turns the drive belt. It doesn’t seem to come with the motor. What is the correct term for it, and where can I find one?

    Thanks!! =D

  22. Glacial Wanderer said,

    March 11, 2009 @ 9:48 am

    Your question about the pulley, I just call it a pulley. Have a link to the one I used in the article above, but here it is again for your convenience (http://www.mcmaster.com/#6245K214). If you use a different motor you will want to order one with a different inner diameter to match the size of the motor shaft.

    Nette, I hope you get it working. Let me know if you run into any problems.

  23. Nette said,

    March 17, 2009 @ 9:28 pm

    Okay! I’m getting off to a rocky start. The hobby shop people thought 1/35 HP motor was huge, and did not have anything else. HEY … a thought … what if you sold a kit, just the electronics and stuff? ( I have another idea for the box and am planning on buying a flyer kit with bobbins). =D What do you think? E-me if we can make a deal.

  24. Glacial Wanderer said,

    March 18, 2009 @ 6:17 am

    Hi Nette.

    I would suggest just buying the electronics from the links I provided in the article. The main electronic components (motor, power supply, and motor controller) all have links places you can buy them. I’ve bought them from the places I’ve linked and had no problems with those merchants. The other electronics stuff are a switch and a potentiometer both of witch you can buy cheaply from a local Radio Shack or equivalent store.

  25. Jane said,

    March 18, 2009 @ 7:27 am

    Thanks for sharing your experience in building an electric spinning wheel; I’ve been wanting one for a while, and now I’m sure I can build one with your detailed tutorial and parts list. I was wondering if you preferred any particular brand of glue? I have some Gorilla glue, but I don’t know if it’s right for this project, and I know the last thing I want is for the elastic strap to break apart and go flying. Also, do you overlap the ends when gluing so there is a lump in the strap, or do you just butt the ends together?

  26. Jane said,

    March 18, 2009 @ 7:48 am

    Sorry to bug you again, but looking at the tensioner pictures and schematic, I don’t see where the stretchy fabric goes that you mentioned in the parts list, nor did you say how large a piece was needed. Logic says it should go over the notch where the bobbin slides into the wood and when you push the wood down it puts pressure onto the bobbin thus tensioning it, but I want to be sure.

  27. Glacial Wanderer said,

    March 18, 2009 @ 8:50 am

    Jane, I looked through the pictures and there is no good picture of the newer lever design. I will try and post a picture in the next week or so, but here are words describing it.

    On the 3d renderings there is a “tension control” lever. This leaver has a 1 inch by 2 inch notch cut out of it where it presses against a pipe extending out of the bobbin. I glue about a 4 inch piece of taunt stretchy fabric across this notch. Then when you press the lever down this fabric adds tension to bobbin which makes it spin slower and causes uptake.

    I used “Goop” glue for gluing the this and it worked great. I have gorilla glue and it would probably work fine. You can try it and see how it works if you want. If it doesn’t hold you’ll just need to re-glue it. A failure here wouldn’t cause anything else to break.

  28. Katie said,

    March 25, 2009 @ 3:25 pm

    This is great! I’ve been researching spinning wheels for an art project that I’m currently working on and this has helped to answer all of my questions about the flyer and the bobbin! I’m afraid I’m not well versed in the ways of electronics so mine will still be manual and not electronic, but this tutorial really helped me with my plans! Thank you!

  29. Kenny said,

    March 28, 2009 @ 8:52 am

    Thanks for posting these instructions and the Q&A section. I was ready to ask questions till I read everything. Others already covered what I needed to know. I am building my wife a mechanical wheel (with parts I’ve been collecting for years knowing they would come in handy for something) and had issues with the relationship between the flyer and bobbin. Since I have not yet seen a working spinning wheel it is difficult to know how much clearance I need. This site was the only one I found that addressed this important aspect to the machine. I plan on finishing the prototype later today. Then I can see first hand. As you well know it is a learning curve. Also, I loved you sense of humor with your own progression. Best of luck with your endeavors and thanks for the inspiration.

  30. Patricia said,

    April 12, 2009 @ 4:12 pm

    Being able to use a Woolee Winder would be great. Have you looked into that?

  31. Maurice Ribble said,

    April 12, 2009 @ 8:37 pm

    I have not and don’t really plan to. I’d need to buy one of their devices and I don’t want to spend the money on that. Sorry.

    The method I use now with the sliding rings is working great for the people I’ve talked to using this spinning wheel. Most of them had hooks on previous spinning wheels and this ring method is better than that. I can see if someone was used to the woolee winder that it would be difficult go back to manually moving the yarn on the flyer.

  32. Leslie said,

    June 6, 2009 @ 10:46 am

    Holy Cow! What an amazing project! And you’re giving the plans to us? Frankly, it’s very refreshing to find people still willing to “put things out there.” I’ve become so frustrated these days by the fact that so many people just aren’t willing to share. UGH!

    Anyhow, I really want to say thanks for such an amazing, detailed project. My husband LOVES to see how things work and this project will be something he can really sink his teeth into. I have wanted to spin for ages but, while my ADD brain loves the electric aspect of a spinning wheel, I have not been able to come close to affording my own. I’m hoping I can talk Matt into building one for me.

    Thanks again for taking the time to answer all the questions. THAT alone is so awesome!

    Emily is a very lucky girl!

  33. Bonnie Van Meter said,

    June 13, 2009 @ 3:34 pm

    Hi. I am interested in learning how to use an electric spinning wheel. How much easier/more difficult is it that spinning on a wheel. I would like to make yarn faster. I also checked the etsy site and no machine there so I guess you might be doing custom orders?

    Maybe I should talk to Emily? thanks.

    bonnie van meter
    imaginary alpaca ranch
    clyde ohio

  34. Zhasmene said,

    June 17, 2009 @ 8:33 pm

    Are those renderings made in sketchup? If so, would it be possible to email them to me so I can see them in 3D and get a good feel for the project?

    Thanks,
    Zhasmene

  35. Maurice Ribble said,

    June 18, 2009 @ 12:59 am

    Bonnie, I sent an email with more information about this.

    The renderings were made in sketchup, but I lost the original files. Sorry :(

  36. Bill said,

    August 7, 2009 @ 11:54 am

    Hey so my gf roped me into building this machine and it’s come to my attention that on the flyer you only need one dowel, i have the yarn feed come up and run over one side and that wraps around the bobbin. is the other side for balance? I could see that it’s absence would cause unwanted vibrations, but I think i’m simply interpreting their function wrong.

  37. Maurice Ribble said,

    August 7, 2009 @ 12:58 pm

    You are correct that you only need one dowel on the flyer. I only use the other one for balance.

  38. Ester said,

    September 19, 2009 @ 7:45 pm

    Hi
    I am a pre-school teacher. The school has a farm like caracter. We do school readiness programmes with 3-7 year old children, but we concentrate a lot on nature, animals and a “natural slow life”.
    I have no knowledge of spinning but would like to teach children to spin with angora rabbit wool.
    I would love to get ideas and advice in this regard.
    Thanks
    Ester Smith

  39. Maurice Ribble said,

    September 22, 2009 @ 12:18 am

    Hello Ester,
    I don’t know if kids 3 and 4 have the dexterity to spin or not…maybe they could do more with the combing of the rabbit and collecting the angora? I think I’ve seen one 5 year old knit with chubby needles and thick yarn so how about knitting? There is a learning curve to spinning, even with adults. If you want to teach kids to spin, you’ll probably want to get someone in who is experienced, or you’ll want to learn to spin first.

    Maybe they could dye the angora with kool-aid dyes.
    I don’t know how easy angora is to spin either because I think it’s slippery. It’s usually mixed in with other fibers, from what I understand.

    It sounds like you have an interesting program!
    Best of luck,
    Emily

  40. whisperingsage said,

    October 5, 2009 @ 1:26 pm

    For other sources of DC motors, try http://www.northerntool.com, Edmund Scientific at http://scientificsonline.com/search.asp?t=ss&ss=DC+motor&x=13&y=9, and I was going to suggest Harbor Freight, but it doesn’t appear that they carry just DC motors anymore, at least their search bar won’t find me one.

  41. whisperingsage said,

    October 5, 2009 @ 1:43 pm

    Ester, I tried to email you but the link says it was broken. For starters, 3-4 is too young, I started some 6-10 year olds on a drop spindle. Very simple. They are just a dowel through a flat circle, I have seen people make them from CD’s as their circle. http://www.spinnerschoice.com/Drop%20Spindles.htm
    And this site http://www.joyofhandspinning.com/ has a very neat lady with lots of clean videos that show the basics. She lives in NYC and raises a few Angora rabbits there in her apartment! They are clean and quiet. And of course youtube will give you more videos.

    3-4 year olds might want to start out with basic weaving, but set it up for them, they will not have the detail for starting the project unless you use the precut plastic deals that they weave through. That will give them the idea. Also, we used to weave through strawberry baskets to start with. They won’t be ready for more complicated set up till about 6 years old.
    Be that as it may, keep in mind most of my class was excited as long as they saw me spinning on a drop spindle, but when it was their turn, the majority of them spent 5 minutes trying and then threw the spindle on the floor and screamed “I can’t do this!” . This could be a symptom of our society today. I never thought about doing something like that when I was their age. We just kept working at our project until we had mastered it.

  42. Terry said,

    November 2, 2009 @ 6:39 pm

    I am so happy that you posted your wonderful ideas for building an electric spinning wheel. I can only imagine how happy Emily is with it. Also, I recently suggested in a spinners’ group on Ravelry that it is possible to build your own spinning wheel. What a plastering I took from the nay-sayers! You’d have thought I was suggesting I could spin gold! Anyway, thanks again for sharing your creativity. It has brightened my day and reaffirmed my belief in creative self-sufficiency.

    Terry

  43. Tom said,

    November 13, 2009 @ 9:56 am

    Thank you so much for your very detailed design and comments! I will be using many of your ideas to build a similar machine for my wife and I’m sure I’ll use it, too!

    These types of devices are ‘complicated’ for most people so the manufacturers definitely use that to their advantage in pricing.

    It’s great to see good old-fashioned ingenuity and determination still at work in our packaged, fast-food world.

    Thanks, again!!

  44. whisperingsage said,

    November 18, 2009 @ 5:16 pm

    I jsut returned to this design , I had looked at the summercloud machine and it has instructions too, but he recommends the flyer kit from Ashford and it’s $150! I will be using your instructions, instead.

  45. daniel luther said,

    December 15, 2009 @ 8:46 pm

    hi welp i am planing on building one these electric spinning wheels for my mom for xmas . is there any thing i should know before my adventure in building it ? . thanks . daniel

  46. Karl Rosenqvist said,

    January 7, 2010 @ 8:29 pm

    Hi, amazingly good instructions and exactly what I was looking for. I’m going into a low budget build. I’m planning on using a cordless drill motor probably with battery, speedcontroller and all for portability. I have great hopes for this since it will eliminate the need for belts and wheels as transmission is built in. Also I’m confident it will have enough power, after all it can power my rather big robots ;)
    Thanx again.

  47. Chris said,

    January 26, 2010 @ 7:05 am

    This is incredibly cool. My girlfriend is getting into spinning and making a wheel will be cheaper than buying one. Your plans are very helpful. I do wonder what you used as a brake, though. Anyway, thanks for the ideas!

  48. Stephen Cook said,

    February 12, 2010 @ 8:30 pm

    Hi, Steve Cook calling from the UK.

    I am just building a spinner loosely based on your design. However, instead of using a brake to determine the speed of the bobbin, I am using a second motor to independently drive it. The way i see it, this kind of micro control of the two spinning components should make for very precise and predictable control.

    I will have two controllers to set the speed on the two motors. However, I am going to use an on/off foot-pedal to dual-start/stop both motors simultaneously.

    I’m happy to post the finished device on here when finished if anyone is interested

  49. sama said,

    February 24, 2010 @ 4:08 pm

    I WANT ASK U IF U KNOW ANY FACTORIES IN UK THAT TREAT &spining wool machine like spining jenny but i need it very improved &optimized

    thank u

  50. John said,

    April 11, 2010 @ 6:06 am

    Just curious if you had thought about using a cordless drill for parts….high torque motor with variable speed trigger built in…and they aren’t expensive. I’ve got several old ones kicking around……if you use them for a living you kill the batteries after a while…and by then they have new bigger, badder, and well shiny models that look more tempting to buy than batteries. (at least that has been my experience) By the way, nice neat work.

  51. Lois Luckovich said,

    April 20, 2010 @ 8:44 pm

    Our Coastal Natives here on Vancouver Island in CORRUPT B.C. Canada have been using this types of spinner for years-originally attached the bobbin and flyer to a treadle sewing machine. Then treadled to provide power, now they use a small electric motor mounted on the frame of a table.

  52. Betty Polenz said,

    May 19, 2010 @ 2:06 am

    I have a Wee Peggy spinning wheel that Iwould like to convert to electric. I am now in a wheel chair and do not have the use of my legs.Is it possible to just convert it? Thanks.Betty.

  53. Maurice Ribble said,

    June 7, 2010 @ 4:50 am

    Hi Betty,

    I’m sure this is possible, but generally to do a conversion take a lot of extra time since there is specialized work for the conversion. To get this done you’ll either need to do some learning about electronics and mechanics or find a friend you wants to help out.

  54. alex MacDonald said,

    June 7, 2010 @ 6:47 pm

    I like your design as it is close to what I need for my small business shop. I am
    wanting to make:

    a) application to pull electrical wire (i.e. 22 gauge or 16 or 18 guage wire
    from the reel to my cutting machine (15 feet away).

    b) the reel of wire would be on a steel pole .. I would need dc motor to
    pull the wire to my cutting machine ..

    c) The wire cutting and stripping machine …. will receive wire from the
    reel in bunches cut of 100 or so ….

    d) the control of stop and start would be by the wire cut and strip machine
    with a “speed control” also.

    Can you set up help us in any way to develop our own?
    Kindly advise. You assistance is most appreciated.
    Alex MacDonald
    Montreal, Quebec

  55. Dave Heyn said,

    June 15, 2010 @ 1:12 pm

    I don’t see the battery in any of the pictures (only shows in the drawing above).

    Is the battery needed to protect and sink the energy from the SyRen regenerative motor driver or can the spinning wheel be built using just the 120v to 12 volt converter?

  56. Laura Solomon said,

    July 7, 2010 @ 10:29 am

    Hi, was wondering if you could help me with this problem.
    When I double ply in reverse, the hook holding the yarns slides down too quickly.
    How do I set the tensions to slow it down?
    I have a Fricke.
    Thank you.

  57. Hobby Robotics » Electric Eel Wheel 2 – An Electric Spinning Wheel said,

    September 4, 2010 @ 6:27 am

    [...] just finished the second version of my electric spinning wheel (old posts here and here) I decided to use the original name of Electric Eel Wheel 2. I really like this new idea I [...]

  58. nik said,

    December 24, 2010 @ 9:36 pm

    So, all you need as far as the electrical stuff goes is the motor, motor control, battery, and battery charger? and the links are in plans 4 and 5?
    thanks a ton for sharing this

  59. Jeanette said,

    March 6, 2011 @ 10:45 am

    Hi,

    I recently bought the Eel wheel and has set it up according to the documentation in this website. However, I just can’t get the correct tension into my yarn. The problem is that is gets overspun. I thiought that it would be fixed by tightening the scotch tension but when I tighten it enough everything stops and if I loosen it just enough so that the bobbin can move the yarn gets overtwisted since the uptake is too slow. Does it make any difference which side of the flyer the yarn is spun onto the bobbin? Do you have any solution for this? Hopefully you understand what I mean :o ) Thank you.

    br Jeanette, Denmark

  60. Maurice Ribble said,

    March 6, 2011 @ 10:51 am

    Hi Jeanette,

    There is a fix for this. I found out after shipping out some kits that some of the spacers you put in the bobbin were slightly smaller than they should be making it so they don’t spin freely. The fix is to use something to make the holes in the bobbin slightly larger so everything spins freely. You can use a file, dremel, drill or anything else that will get the job done. Once these holes are slightly enlarged the bobbin will spin freely and you will need much less tension to get it working properly.

  61. Jeanette said,

    March 9, 2011 @ 6:23 am

    Hi Maurice,

    I’ve checked the two bobbins I have and there’s actually a slight difference in the inside diameter between them in the spacer end. I will make the hole in the smaller one a bit larger and see if that solves it. Thank you!

  62. RK Hageman said,

    August 7, 2011 @ 8:50 pm

    Hello! What I’d like to do is use an existing flyer/bobbin/maidens assembly from an Ashford Traditional, and electrify it. Any thoughts/suggestions/??

  63. Angela said,

    August 27, 2011 @ 6:10 pm

    Hello,

    I own the Eel wheel 2, but I travel a lot to shows and would like to get a battery pack. Any ideas about makes, models, or where to get one?

    Angie

  64. Heather Hawley said,

    November 28, 2011 @ 8:01 pm

    I saw what you said about using a sewing machine motor and took a good look at the photo of that spinner. I made my own using a sewing machine motor and a bigger homemade (5 inch) pulley, it works purfectly for me. My guess is that you should have applied a little bicycle machanics (invovling gear ratios to be spacfic) to your spinner. Also I do not trust the way you attached those carry straps.

  65. Nikki said,

    November 30, 2011 @ 3:58 pm

    Thank you so much for posting these plans! My boyfriend and I are going to try this out. Could you repost a link for the motor? The one listed isn’t brining up the page anymore.

    Thanks!

  66. McNerdius said,

    January 6, 2012 @ 4:10 pm

    Ditto on the re-link request for the motor – the only part i haven’t acquired yet !

  67. Maurice Ribble said,

    January 6, 2012 @ 4:23 pm

    Sorry, I don’t know where to get a similar motor.

  68. Jody said,

    January 8, 2012 @ 12:24 pm

    I love this! And am very sorry you no longer make them (maybe you will change your mind)
    Someone mentioned purchasing a kit? Do you still sell them. (can you tell I’m begging?)
    Jody

  69. Janice Tarantino said,

    January 22, 2012 @ 10:52 am

    Thank you for sharing. Got arthritis and have to go to e-spinner. Hate to buy all new bobbins when already have a spare-mother of all. My gear is all Kromski. I need clear view, and reach of the spindle. If I enclose your latest motor under the mother of all, instead of in the box to the side, leave that bottom compartment back end open for ventilation, do you think it might have an over heating problem? How much space do you think it ought to have? Your electrical expertise input would be appreciated! Thank you for making it possible to build one at home!
    Sincerely, Janice

  70. Mike Jones said,

    February 17, 2012 @ 5:41 am

    Really you are a genius and I like the work you are doing. Thanks a lot.
    generators

  71. Beth said,

    April 23, 2012 @ 1:05 pm

    I was so excited to find your electric spinning wheel. The directions from scratch are thorough, and overwhelming, but I could handle a kit if you ever decide to make one again. PLEASE!

  72. Beth said,

    April 23, 2012 @ 2:09 pm

    How ’bout specifics you were looking for in a motor so I can look for one myself?

  73. cortland johnson said,

    May 19, 2012 @ 10:31 pm

    thanks for your reply-since you responded my motherboard crashed and every thing was lost. Have you progressed on your new improved electric spinning device. If not do you know whar I could get the motor and controler you used so I could build my own-good luck on your progress

  74. Ruth Henriquez said,

    July 4, 2012 @ 7:39 am

    Hello, Can this design handle thicker yarns (up to 1/4 or 3/8 inch)? Also, are you still selling the kits? I don’t know anything about machinery and need all the help I can get.

    Thank you,
    Ruth

  75. cortland johnson said,

    October 11, 2012 @ 4:58 pm

    I have not heard from you,do you have the new electric wheel yet?

  76. Maurice Ribble said,

    October 11, 2012 @ 5:04 pm

    Not yet. It’s taking a lot longer than I thought to get the new version complete. It is still a few months away.

  77. Ryan Friend said,

    January 25, 2013 @ 8:19 pm

    I just had a crazy idea that you might be able to help me on. First of all, my wife and I both love to knit. She likes to spin, but we don’t really have the time for it. What are the technical problems with hooking this up to a machine that automatically cards and feeds the fiber and then feeds it into the spinner automatically? I mean, what will it take to make a cheap humanless or semihumanless verion of your machine. Check this video out to see what I mean: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GrAONpLiQZA

  78. Maurice Ribble said,

    January 26, 2013 @ 6:16 am

    Ryan, that would be extremely difficult. The twine in your video is much easier than yarn quality rovings to handle and you still see how big, complex, and expensive that machine looked. This is something I thought would be interesting, but I think if I ever tried to solve it the size and cost of the machine would end up outside the range of hobbiest and only make sense for people/companies who sell yarn. Currently most of the automated machines are house size. I might be able to target table sized instead. I would also probably have to invests large amounts of money and years of my life designing it. It’s interesting, but I’m not sure if I’ll get to it.

  79. Brian Mallett said,

    May 22, 2013 @ 11:20 am

    Love your electric spinning wheel !!!!!!! In one of first pics. you said you used an electric sewing mach. motor I assume with a pedal to control the speed. You said you couldn’t get enough torque if you still wanted to experiment with it try a larger pully on the flyer about (guessing) twice the size of the one you have, this means the motor has to go revolutions to move the flyer one turn and that will give you more torque

  80. Matthew Wnuk said,

    June 9, 2013 @ 6:50 am

    Thank you for the design. I made this for my wife’s birthday and it came out great. The designs were well planned and easy to follow.

  81. cortland johnson said,

    July 29, 2013 @ 7:06 pm

    Back in October of 2012 I contacted you and you were in the process of a new design, how is that going? I still would like to build one and at this point all I need is where to get the parts for the older model-I would like to get one for my wife as here knees are a problem and a regular wheel is hard for her to use

  82. cortland johnson said,

    October 10, 2013 @ 10:19 am

    How are you doing with the new design and paperwork? Still am interested in buildng one

  83. cortland johnson said,

    October 10, 2013 @ 10:21 am

    what is the stats on release of the new design-had problems with the “captcha code on latst email might be a duplicate

  84. Maurice Ribble said,

    October 10, 2013 @ 12:38 pm

    The new version is out. You can check it out at: http://www.electriceelwheel.com

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