This one sets a record. The last spinning wheel [See Montana Spinning Wheel] I had in my shop was there for about 15 months, a couple of months for the repairs and over a year in storage. This one I purchased [from a friend at the Fort Buenaventura Rendezvous, of all places] on Saturday, made a phone call, did the repairs and it was sold on Monday. I would have posted this yesterday but no one would believe the story.
I was contacted last week by a local who asked if I had any spinning wheels for sale, I told him I had one damaged one but the replacement parts and restoration would make it expensive. Then at a Mountain Man Rendezvous I found this one and bought it on speculation. Upon returning I made a call, they came by on Monday and made the purchase.
I did have to replace the flyer bearings as the eye bolts/screws didn’t seem appropriate, I used quebracho bark tanned leather, very durable stuff. I also had to replace a couple of wedges, repair a small crack in the whorl and make a replacement pitman, yet another wire pitman is replaced [I am getting a good collection of old wire].
This wheel is probably from the New England area, the base, treadle and wheel are made of quarter sawn white oak, the turnings are of birch, the washer on the maiden is sycamore and one replacement piece on the distaff is cherry. The distaff itself is made from a hickory sapling with an unusual walnut finial. The wheel is in remarkable condition considering its age [ca 1820-30] and when I was taking photographs I noticed the multi colors used in decorating. There are red bands in the middle of most of the turnings with black bands on the ends.
I think the flyer, whorl and bobbin are from another wheel, the hooks are all on one side and they are looped toward the spinner not toward the bobbin which I found unusual. The detail on the flyer is excellent.
I measured the growth rings of the quarter sawn white oak base to about 28 rings per inch, definitely old growth, a modern piece of oak on my table has 4 rings per inch.
Fun and quick project.
This is the first book review of my first book that was originally published in hardbound in 1981. This review appeared in Smithsonian Magazine April 1982.
I found this while doing research at the University of Nevada, Reno at their excellent library.
Now I need to find the reviews in Workbench Magazine, Soldier of Fortune Magazine and Museum of the Fur Trade Quarterly.
Available at Tools for Working Wood
and The Full Chisel Store or from Amazon. Amazon also has original hardbound editions for sale.
I started this documentation of the restoration of this flyer here. And continued here and here. The flyer was broken in two around the mandrel, which I repaired with Hot Hide Glue, I also served linen thread around the base to strengthen, secured with a couple coats of shellac.
I could not bend the hooks the way I normally do as they are too small. So I had to bend them in the reverse order than normal. I used the thickness of the needle nose pliers to determine the length of the hook shank, then bent it over and hit it with a hammer to create a sharp corner.
I then bent the hook end and nipped them off. I had to be careful as I only had a short length of old iron wire the correct size to match the other flyer.
After making 20 iron wire hooks I had plenty left over, see the 1/2″ piece on the gnomon? I was sweating the last five, but when I got down to 3 I knew I had it made.
I then had to file all of the ends of the hooks to remove any sharp edges and flatten out the shank of the hook.
The lower hook is flattened on an anvil with a hammer and has not been sharpened to a triangular point on the end.
And here it is completed, I did use Fish Glue to secure the hooks, I also etched the iron wire with garlic prior to gluing. I used the little clamp from Lee Valley to push down a couple of difficult hooks, most went in by gently pushing with pliers while very gently twisting.
I have been working on this flyer as mentioned previously. Today after making a proper quill bit from a bit of correct sized piano wire [I filed it by hand, much easier than trying it on my hand crank grindstone].
I used a reciprocating push drill from Lee Valley [they don't seem to carry it anymore but I do have one 'similar' from them I use on smaller holes] and it works great but it is a lot of work. I had to drill 20 holes, it took 100 strokes to drill each hole for a total of over 2000 strokes.
Now it is a matter of bending 20 small 16 gauge wire hooks and installing them.
While examining the unbroken original flyer for the Double Flax Spinning Wheel, I noticed that the iron hooks were replaced. And they were replaced in new holes.
Look closely and notice the tiny plugs next to the wire hooks. Never know what you will run into when repairing old pieces.
I have the broken flyer cleaned, etched and glued with hot hide glue and under clamp. Tomorrow I will refit the shaft. I noticed that the shaft only goes in one way to remain perfectly centered between the arms of the flyer. The shaft is responsible for the fracture as the wood had shrunk causing the fracture that was repaired with wire. There was evidence of hide glue on the repair as well, lucky for me.
I will fit the shaft, clean it off and etch it with a clove of garlic and glue it in place. Then drilling the holes, bending and installing the hooks.
This pair of flyer’s for a Double Flax Spinning Wheel* came in from Washington State, from someone who found me on the Internet, what a wonderful invention, both the spinning wheel and the World Wide Web.
One is an original [on the right below] and in remarkably good condition only one hook showing excessive wear. It is made of beech with an iron mandrel and iron hooks.
The other appears to be a replacement made of walnut [on the left above] and with no hooks. Possibly made to balance out the look without being functional. It shows no evidence of a single adjustable hook. The mandrel is original and matches the other, this flyer is broken and ‘repaired’ with some iron wire.
I first need to refit the mandrel into the wood to close up the crack and then I will make the repairs using Hot Hide Glue. I will then make the hooks from iron wire and drill the holes for them in the flyer.. The iron hooks are flattened with a hammer on an anvil, this helps register them in the correct position. I will etch the iron with a fresh clove of garlic and a bit of Fish Glue in the holes to hold the iron.
Once completed a coat of Moses T’s Reviver and ship them back.
*Double Flax Wheels were sometimes called Gossip Wheels where two spinsters would spin and talk at the same time. However I was also informed that a talented spinner, spinning from a distaff could spin two yarns simultaneously.
And after I don’t know how I have finally completed the repairs, touch-ups and a finish. I used shellac with brunt umber pigment to match the old stain and patina, then treated the entire wheel with Moses T’s Reviver. I put the Reviver on with an old toothbrush to get into all of the details of the turnings, allowed it to sit for 10 minutes and wiped off the excess. Disposing of my oily rags properly.
I assembled all the parts and used hemp cord for the power belt and a strip of leather for the transition between the foot treadle and the pitman. After the crank was straightened it works fine without hitting the wheel support or the pitman.
Fun project, now on to something entirely different.
After soaking and cursing the modern glue used for this ‘butcher repair’ on the spinning wheel it was time to glue it back together with hot hide glue [192 double grams Bloom from Tools for Working Wood]. A joint was loose and had been ‘glued’ improperly, first the wrong glue then not aligned properly as was the split off piece of the rim of the wheel. I clamped it back together with my rope clamp, this tool comes in very handy for just such clamping needs.
Because the repair to the rim was so bad, I couldn’t tell that there was some wood missing, until I started to put it back together. I ended up gluing in the existing piece then infilling with wood [pine to match the original] into the crack, not an easy task. I used Lee Valley Fish Glue for this repair.
There were also some dent marks on only one side of the wheel, not sure what caused them, not a dog or animal as they are just on one side? There is also a previous repair that was done properly.
I mostly steamed them out using a clothes iron and wet cloth, but some remained but were taken care of in the filling process. A mixture of calcium carbonate [whiting], linseed oil and burnt umber and black iron oxide pigment. It will take a couple of days to dry, but looks great.
I also cut two new leather bearings for the maidens after removing the original. It was held by the small pointed wedge from an angle, most unusual method to secure the leather bearings.
I will be able to put a coat of shellac on the wheel later today, then put the thing back together. This has been a fun project, although I took way too long.
I haven’t got my current treadle lathe finished yet and I needed to turn a small decorative turning for the Montana Spinning Wheel that I have been working on for way too long. I turned to my fiddle lathe or bow lathe or clockmaker’s lathe which I showed in detail earlier.
Here is a short video on turning on the fiddle lathe, I started with a gouge and finished off with a skew. The gouge is a small carving chisel and the skew [and flat chisel] are ones I made. The material is birch to match the original.
fiddle lathe You have to click on this, for some reason that is the only way I can get it to work?
The video is short because the leather strap was stretching and had to be adjusted. Then the leather strap broke. I have tried several types of leather for this purpose, going to have to try some braided hemp, too bad I can’t get cello gut strings, they should work.
I did manage to get the turning finished, it took about a half an hour, the tool rest is quite small and had to be adjusted frequently. It does take a few minutes to get use to turning with one hand while the other works the bow.
I started working on this wheel back in April when I first posted about this wheel. I have posted about its repairs since and am continuing to work on the &%#$#* modern glue repair on the rim of the wheel.
I repaired the last of 3 bobbins only one was undamaged. This one had a small missing crescent shape piece and decided to do a matching repair rather than adding small dovetails to hold it in place. I carved the endgrain kirlian birch smooth to accept a new piece and used white birch to do the repair. After about a half an hour glued with fish glue I was able to work the repair. I carved it to shape then used a pair of compasses to scribe the fine lines. I then used an engravers burin to deepen the lines before its first coat of shellac. After that dried I used burnt umber in shellac to make it match.
The wood is so thin that it is translucent and light passes through.
I also had to repair the flyer and drilled two small holes in one side first. I then placed the two pieces together, turned them over and tapped them on my bench. I then removed the upper piece and there on the lower piece were two small piles of drill dust marking the spots. I used an sharp awl to mark the holes and drilled the corresponding holes. Simple method for small holes and no dowel centers that size.
The dowels are made from birch coffee stir sticks, I split them out and cut off the corners.
I also used Lee Valley Fish Glue and having no other method of clamping, I held it together for about 20 minutes and it held fine.
Now I just have to finish making the iron hooks and finish the wheel after some bad words.