Full Chisel Blog

October 17, 2014

Pre-publication Sale of The Spinning Wheel Repair Book

I am offering a pre-publication sale on the Spinning Wheel Repair Book which is going to the press soon.  I will be delivering these by the first week of December 2014.

Here is a mock up of the cover, color being added as we speak, original artwork by Tim Burnham.


For the first 25 orders I will include an 8.5″ by 11″ hand impressed copy of the hand set title page by Lauri Taylor of Loose Cannon Press, along with your order.

lauri title page3

The book is 8.5″ by 11″, 77 pages with 160 illustrations and 25 photographs.

The book can be ordered here at the Full Chisel Store, the price is $20.00 plus $6.00 domestic shipping.  International shipping charges apply.  The book will be shipped by early December, 2014.

Thanks to all of those who helped with this publication.


August 8, 2014

Loom repair

Filed under: Hardware,Historical Material,Of Interest,Restoration,Techniques,Uncategorized,Wood — Stephen Shepherd @ 9:16 am


A friend for whom I have done repairs on spinning wheels brought me a loom she had got from India made of teak.  The problem was that it would not lock adequately into the upright position.  I examined the loom and determined that the slotted machine screws just spun as the wingnuts were tightened.

The loom was actually quite well made, except for the white plastic parts, but they just couldn’t or didn’t figure out all of the details.  So I decided that two of the four machine screws in question could be replaced with simple carriage bolts.  I used a square file to make the bolt go into the hole without splitting the wood, and that worked out fine.


However the other two machine screws could not be replaced with ordinary carriage bolts, so I had master blacksmith Mark Schramm weld on tabs on both sides of the square top of the carriage bolts.  I had to remove one of the shed spacers in order to remove the old screws and insert the new tabbed carriage bolts.

Once they were in place I repositioned the spacers in the proper location, put it back together and low and behold it works.  And the happy customer brought me this hand spun dishtowel that she had made on the loom.  Thank you.



May 27, 2014

Spindle Wheel – New Mother-of-All, and Spindle

spindle head0This is a photograph sent in by a customer and in need of a new spindle head, maidens, and mother of all, and spindle.  They sent me the tension device on the left, an unusual two standard model with a tilting head and tightening nut to provide drive band tension.

spindle head1The uprights [standards] are made of chestnut, the block is birch and the nut is white oak, an American Wheel.  There is a name stamped on the end of the table, hard to see or tell exactly what it is but perhaps ‘NORTON’.  The new upright post that fits it the block is reclaimed chestnut and the Mother of All cross piece is birch.

I had to make a tapered reamer to match the tapered socket hole in the block, the first one was from soft maple and shattered during the third hole.  A new one of hard maple works much better.

tapered reamer1A slot is cut in the center and the blade is from an old saw and is draw filed square on the edge profile, it has four cutting edges and is used in both directions.

tapered reamer2The two maidens are also made of reclaimed chestnut and these are turned to fit the holes that have been reamed out with the above reamers.

spindle head1a

Here is how the detail on the maiden looks, after details on the existing standards.

spindle head2And here is the entire mother of all with the exception of the metal spindle, flange and drive pulley.  I will finish this piece first, the flange and pulley are made of maple which requires a different finish schedule.

spindle head3I will also permanently attach the single upright post into the birch cross piece with hide glue and a wedge, a little too small for a peg, either method is appropriate.  The maidens are just friction fit as is the mother of all into the tension block.

I also have to drill holes in the maidens to hold the corn husk bearings.


May 7, 2014

Fairbanks Home – next phase

Filed under: Documentation,Hardware,Historical Material,Of Interest,Restoration,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 3:10 pm

The next phase of restoration of the Fairbanks Home at This is the Place Heritage Park in Salt Lake City, Utah has begun.  The sill, lintle and molding restoration is documented here.

removing kitchen door

The kitchen door and three lower window sashes needed attention.  The original door in the kitchen addition was in need of stripping the many layers of old paint, restoration to the woodwork and reattaching the hardware.

kitchen door outside

kitchen door inside

Here are photographs of the inside and outside of the door.

kitchen door outside stripped

kitchen door inside stripped

And here is what it looks like after the paint is removed.  The large number of nails, 54 in one cleat was surprising.

kitchen door cleat

The three lower window sashes all looked liked like the one in the photograph, the lower rails were rotten and the sash did not stay together.  Two sashes in the original part of the house have a bead detail on the frames and mullions, the window from the kitchen addition has much simpler detail.

window damage

More on the work later, have roughed out all of the rails and styles for the sash frames and the mullions are all finished, so it is time to chop and cope.



March 16, 2014

Double Table Spinning Wheel Restoration


While I have restored probably well over 100 spinning wheels, this is my first double table spinning wheel restoration.  Of Scandinavian origins this wheel is a close match to this one featured on a Catalogue from a local Daughter’s of the Utah Pioneer Museum.


Sometime during its history the original pitman was replaced with a homemade folk art replacement.  I do think because the pitman was rigid that it caused damage to the two uprights holding the wheel; the sockets in the lower table were both broken.  These were easy to repair as all of the parts and pieces were there, so using Fish Glue I filled the joints, clamped them and washed off the excess glue with a wet cloth.




There was an interesting piece of wood in one of the maidens, apparently to keep the flyer in place.  I had to remove this when the proper sized spindle, flyer, whorl, and bobbin were added.


The treadle also needed some repair as the end where the pitman is attached had a piece missing.  I shaped a new piece and glued it into place.




I also had to make new leather bearings for the maidens; first a paper pattern to fit the mortise and the leather bearing.  This is for a new spindle, flyer, whorl and bobbin that replaced the missing set.


I replaced the pitman with one influenced by the one on the original in the local museum.


The drive band is hemp cord that I washed, stretched, and allowed to dry.  I then treated it with Drive Belt Dressing.

Here are two views of the finished restoration.  This one belongs to a friend of mine who purchased it for $35.00 at a local swap meet and now that it is restored he intends to put it up for sale.







February 9, 2014

Getting down to Brass Tacks

This term comes from the upholstery trade; brass tacks are the finishing touch and final job of an upholstered chair, settee, sofa, lounge, etc. as well as leather covered trunks.  So ‘getting down to brass tacks’ is the last part of the job.


Here is a link to the website selling decent traditional brass tacks.  This link shows about the brass tacks.

brass tacks

My artwork [above] from 1994 was used by the site, I contacted the owner, proved I did the art and he sent me these tacks.  While they are not completely accurate, the originals were cast one piece, these brass tacks are the best available on the market.  They do pass the magnet test, which is a way to determine if the shanks are iron or steel.

If you are making 19th century accurate reproductions such as leather covered trunks, an upholstered piece of furniture or a brass tack knife sheath [the clinch looks correct] these tacks fit the bill.  I highly recommend them.


January 28, 2014

I’ve got Chicken Nuts

Filed under: For Sale or Trade,Hardware,Of Interest,Restoration,Spinning Wheel,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 9:19 am

chicken nuts1

If you own a Canadian Pattern Spinning Wheel you know what I mean, as for the rest of you, it is not what you think.  Size 5/16″ by 18.

chicken nuts2

See Full Chisel Store.


December 1, 2013

When a Spinning Wheel Treadle Axle becomes a Bifurcated [rinder] Bit

Let’s see how the search engines handle that!  The treadle on the painted spinning wheel I am currently restoring had badly worn axles as well as the wrought iron axles were delaminating and causing problems where they come in contact with the wooden legs.  Other parts of the restoration process are posted here and here.

treadle axle repair1

The nature of wrought iron with its inclusions of slag has resulted in the problems encountered here.  The wrought iron axles have delaminated and caused damage to the beech legs through which the axles pivot.

treadle axle repair3

Here is the damage done to the beech [worm damaged] leg.

treadle axle repair4

The first one I easily removed by grasping it with a pair of pliers, gently twisting and it came right out.  The second one was more of a problem and required some effort to get it loose.  I used a small pointed tool to deliniate a line around the axle between the metal and the wood.  I then put a drop of ethanol alcohol at the junction.  I repeated this several times, while gently twisting the axle with pliers.  After some time it became loose and more time and gentle work the axle came out.

treadle axle repair2

I will use hot hide glue to reattach the new iron axles [provided by Master Blacksmith Mark Schramm].  the tangs of the new axles will be prepared with garlic prior to gluing in place.




November 27, 2013

Spinning Wheel leg[s] repair

This is a wheel I have been working on for a while, it is a painted lady, base coat of green paint followed by a coat of black paint and lots of grease [lanolin] on some parts.  It had suffered from powder post beetle infestation and the bottoms of the legs were in bad shape.  The legs and other parts are made from beech.

I needed to replace a large part of one leg and add on to the other two legs.  The long repair took place after I removed the damaged portion of the leg, this included the hole where the treadle axle pivots.  The damaged axles had rinded out the pivot hole and will require replacement and repair, this I will show in a later post.

I posted about the turned leg part here.  Here is the photograph of the cut being made; the turned leg is held in V-blocks held in my patternmaker’s vice.

leg repair1

I actually got a fairly square cut considering I was eye-balling the cut, it took just a little work with a chisel to get a good joint.

leg repair2

There is still some worm damage in the leg but the wood is not as punky as the lower part of the leg.

I used the V-blocks to hold the leg upright so I could drill a 1/2″ hole down the center {I wish I had my new doweling jig}, using my Fray & Pigg coachmaker’s brace.  I eye-balled the hole by sighting down at 90 degree angles.

leg repair3

Then a little chisel work and it came out fine.

leg repair4

The replacement part is extra long and will be cut off later.


leg repair5

When gluing up some of the Fish Glue came out one of the worm holes.  Also note that the new part is a bit proud.

leg repair6

I took care of the proud part of the new turning with a chisel, it was easy working down the grain, I smoothed off the chisel marks with a card scraper.  I will do a bit of sanding before painting, which I will do when all repairs have been made.

leg repair7

I used my miter block to cut off the damaged ends of the other legs and will scarf on new pieces of beech on the bottom of each leg, the angle worked out at 45 degrees.  If you look closely you can see the thin wafer of wood I removed to get to sound wood.  Note the rinded out axle hole from the treadle.

leg repair8

This photo shows how the scarf joint will look, the piece is longer than it needs to be.

More later.



October 27, 2013

Spinning Wheel Flyer, first order completed

The first order for a complete Spinning Wheel Flyer, mandrel, whorl and bobbin is finished together with two extra bobbins [customer saved on shipping] and it will be ready to mail out the first of the week.

You can order Spinning Wheel parts at the Full Chisel Store.

Before gluing the mandrel into the flyer, I used a cold chisel to upset a series of burrs on the edges of the square part of the mandrel to help secure it to the maple flyer.  I then washed it down with alcohol to remove any residue of the charcoal I had used to fit the mandrel to the hole.  Don’t use graphite as it can interfere with the hide glue or in this case liquid fish glue from Lee Valley.

first order flyer9

I also used alcohol to clean the inside of the tapered mortise in the maple flyer to remove any charcoal remaining.  I then etched the metal mandrel with a fresh clove of garlic and glued it together.

finished order

I had marked out the flyer to length, cut off the excess and then installed the dozen wire hooks.  I flattened them where they go into the maple to prevent them from turning.

Fun project and I hope a happy customer.


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