Full Chisel Blog

April 22, 2014

I have 4 spinning wheels in my shop right now!


With a couple in the queue, so I need to get busy.  Here is one I just recently completed, a kit wheel, very well made in the style of the 1850′s.  It was in need of lubrication, a tune up and a new drive band.  The customer also ordered 5 additional bobbins for hours of uninterrupted spinning.


The bobbins are made of cherry, glued together with hide glue and finished with Moses T’s Gunstocker’s Finish.  The weather has turned nice so I put them out for a bit of a suntan.  I will not stain them as they will darken with time.


March 20, 2014

American Spinning Wheel

Because of my interest and work in restoring spinning wheels a reader of this blog gave me a spinning wheel.  It had been sitting around his shop and he figured when he reached room temperature that his children would throw this in the trash, so he sent it to me, thank you.


The table is made of American White Oak, the legs, uprights, hub, spokes and maidens are made of birch as is part of the treadle with other yet to be determined woods.  The support for the mother of all is made of cherry and what is most unusual is the wheel is made of mahogany.  First time I have seen that wood used for a wheel.

There is damage to the part that holds the mother-of-all that will require attention, I do have the collar.


Need to make a new leg, one spoke is missing and there is damage to the tenons on the spokes that will require attention.  The spindle, flyer, whorl, and bobbin are in the works.


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.







January 26, 2014

Black Beauty Spinning Wheel Restoration, complete


Well I have finally finished this wheel after much work, as documented here and earlier.  The owner of the wheel had called her the ‘Black Beauty’, and she was until I got into the restoration which was much more involved than I had originally imagined.  The wheel was called ‘Black Beast’ during most of its stay in my shop.  The owner said that if she knew what kind of condition it was in she would never have purchased the wheel.  But that is in the past and now the wheel is in working condition with two extra [new] bobbins and it is good for another 100 years or so.  The wrought iron crank may need some attention in the future.

Everything was done and I put it all together but could not find the tension garter wedge I had previously fabricated.  I then spent more time looking for it on my bench that it would have taken me to make a new one.  So I decided to take the spinning wheel out for this final photograph, then put my vise back on my bench and make a new wedge.  I took the picture, came back in the shop and there in the middle of my bench was the wedge.


January 9, 2014

Distaff design

While I should be working on the Black Beauty leg [which I intend to do later today], but I want to work on the design of the distaff for the wheel I am restoring for myself [and will be for sale].


The original part is all that is left, so I will have to turn the other two pieces that hold this as well as turn the finial and make the 4 ribs of the birdcage.  Made of birch the part remaining also has a peg [cut off now] that holds a donut cup for water to help lubricate the flax during spinning.  I am having the water cup made by a local tinsmith.

What do you think of the design I came up with for the finial?  I copied the profile of the lower part, but not sure if it should have a lower pendant or not?


December 6, 2013

Traditional Wallet

Filed under: Documentation,Historical Material,Of Interest,Techniques,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 10:18 am

I have made wallets for my tombstone scrapers and my card scrapers, and my steel graining combs, so I thought I should make one for myself.  I have a couple of reproduction wallets, one I use for my checkbook and the other I use daily.  The problem with the pocket wallet is that when it is opened, it can spill half the contents out, and original design flaw.  The wallet was also slightly wider than it needed to be, so the new wallet is about 1″ narrower than the one I had been using.

Then I saw some historic 18th century wallets and billfolds and decided to copy those styles, so I incorporated features from several different examples and came up with a design of my own [which I totally ripped off from the past].


Made from hair cell pigskin I got from the Leather Factory [a Tandy outlet] here in Salt Lake and have used it before for my scraper wallets.  The thread is No. 30 Machine Linen thread from Belgium, and used two needles to sew it up.  [If I do much more leather work I will need to build a stitching horse or pony.  I used a traditional Hudson Bay trade awl for all of the holes for the stitches.  The open ends are doubled back for extra reinforcement.


The traditional clasp is made from pure silver .999, and I drilled the holes using pivot bits in my Archimedes Drill and even managed to make all of the cuts from the outside shapes to the piercings for the rectangular slots for the catch without breaking a blade in my jeweler’s saw.  I filed the edges and rinded the sewing holes to make them smooth to preserve the thread.  I lightly sanded the surface with 600 grit then burnished it with a steel burnisher to a high shine.

I may do some tooling to the surfaces but I can do that at any time, and I am thinking of pinking the scallops on the inside.

Now back to woodworking.


November 25, 2013

Interesting Brazilian Rosewood 3 beam marking/mortice gauge – C. Sholl, Pat’d March 6, 1864

A friend of mine picked this up at a local swap meet and I don’t think he gave too much for this Brazilian Rosewood 3 beam marking/mortice/tenon gauge.  Here is a link to Christian Sholl’s Patent.  It is American made and Sholl also patented a 4 beam marking/mortice gauge and some of these are actually made and judging from the prices are quite rare.


I have seen a lot of marking gauges in my time, this one is up there in curious designs.  I fiddled with this for a while and it is most difficult to set, the mortice slide adjusts easy enough but getting all three sides in the correct position is a handful.


This view shows the triple beams and the pentagonal shape.


It has several round brass discs on the opposite side of the fence for wear, two are missing.  It is brass mounted with iron screws and iron/steel scribing pins.



October 30, 2013

Gratuitous Spinning Wheel Flyers & Bobbin Picture

Filed under: Documentation,Historical Material,Of Interest,Spinning Wheel,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 2:18 pm

I just couldn’t resist shooting this picture, I probably won’t have that many flyers and bobbins in the same place and same time again.

all of my bobbins

You can order spinning wheel parts here.


October 28, 2013

Hide Glue in America, 1608

“With the sineyews of Deare, and the tops of Deares horns boiled to a jelley, they make a glew that will not dissolve in cold water.”  John Smith Virginia 1608

October 21, 2013

Casting a Pewter nut into a Wooden Spinning Wheel Whorl

I have had experience with casting pewter into or onto wood; back in 1972 I built a halfstock flintlock rifle and pistol and both had pewter endcaps cast on the end of the maple gunstocks.  So I had every confidence that this would be fairly easy.


The square mortise is undercut on all four edges, so the nut is captured in a dovetail in the maple endgrain of the whorl.


I had to borrow a casting ladle from a friend then melt down some pewter on the stove.  After the pewter was melted I put a rice grain size piece of beeswax into the hot metal to flux out any impurities, then used a wooden stick to remove the dross floating on the surface.



A dam of thick cardboard protects the maple of the whorl and adds thickness to the nut.  I cast the nut onto the shaft [with left hand threads], so the threads are cast into the pewter nut.  I heated up the shaft so as not to shock the hot pewter as it is being poured.



With a hacksaw I removed the excess and smoothed it down with a file, then gave it a bit of burnish.  Spinning Wheel parts available here.


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