Full Chisel Blog

July 14, 2009

American Spinning Wheel – restoration 1

Not only am I starting to restore this wheel but I am also going to school on this one.  I have lately been considering the difference between how wood is turned today as compared to how wood was turned 150 years ago and earlier.

American wheel 3

For instance, these are turned from splits and in some cases those split edges are visible.  These are all but two of the spokes for this wheel and as you can see they are a perfect match, just like today.  Well no they are not, they are not even close, but in the overall picture it makes no difference they all ‘look’ identical.

And it doesn’t look they did a lot of sanding, perhaps because of the expense, but more probably it didn’t produce as smooth and clean a finish as off a sharp tool.  Speaking of sharp tools and tell tale tool marks look at these.

American wheel4

I believe the tool marks are left by a skew chisel and no sanding marks.

Here is the tensioning handle and it has seen some wear but you can still see the marks left from turning.

American Wheel5

And here is a perfect use of my Rope Clamp, together with a spring clamp to prevent skating as the pressure was applied.  The joint on the rim of the wheel failed, probably from shrinkage and or the damage caused when all the spokes and hub were broken.  There are some missing pieces of chestnut in the inside rim at the pegs that secure the spokes.  I will replace those and adjust the size of the spokes to adjust for the shrinkage of the rim.

American Wheel6

Of course I used liquid Hide Glue for the repair after preparing both surfaces with a light rasping.  I placed a piece of paper between the rim of the wheel and the rope of the clamp to aid in clean up.

I intend to use only traditional tools to do the restoration turnings and no sanding.



  1. Well folks, someone apparently hacked my blog, therefore some were not allowed to comment. Mr. Olson will be attending to the problem this weekend, so I will not be posting for a while. I apologize for the inconvenience this trouble may have been. I pray those responsible, burn in hell.


    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — November 30, -0001 @ 12:00 am

  2. Hi Stephen

    Being a `bodger` I never sand and always leave tool marks on my work. One question, are the spokes oval at all, if they are then they where turned from green wood, as you know. I too sometimes have an a split or axe mark on the turned spindle, I do not really mind these to much as long as they are not too big. It all blends in when you look at the whole, just like your spokes being different sizes.

    Over here at our association of pole lathe turners and green woodworkers AGM we have a log to leg race. To make 2 identical legs from the log as accurately as possible to a given pattern. The record lies in under 10 minutes! This would not be possible from seasoned wood.

    Comment by Sean Hellman — July 21, 2009 @ 1:28 pm

  3. Sean,

    I am certain they were rived and turned green as all of the turnings are oval in cross section. I tested them with calipers and they are all out of round.

    I have a rather lengthy post I am preparing on the subject of traditional turning.


    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — July 22, 2009 @ 7:07 am

  4. i bought a small spinning wheel at a garage sale and am interested in restoring it.
    it looks exactly like the one in the photo i found multiple times on goole images with a elderly lady and the caption calls it a norweign spinning wheel. the flywheel is missing a shaft/axle. any suggestions? can’t find shafts as parts for sale. can i bend a steel rod to form a “crank”?

    Comment by gordon roberts — August 30, 2010 @ 4:31 pm

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