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Author Topic: How to fix a broken Drop Spindle  (Read 2500 times)
Lady Evelyn Grey
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« on: June 03, 2012, 02:13:17 pm »

First, I apologize if this is in the wrong section, but reading through the Guide to this Forum didn't raise any red flags for my question.

While unpacking, I realized my drop spindle had been broken in the course of moving apartments. While I have some skill with textiles, my woodworking knowledge is utterly lacking. I also am currently sans camera, but here is a decent image of a similar device.

 

It's broken right through the middle of the shaft and not a clean break either. I've tried gluing it with rubber cement (only thing on hand at the moment) but that didn't work. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to fix it or would it be better to just buy a new one?
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Lady Chrystal
Master Tinkerer
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Wales Wales


Lady Adventurer, Chronicler


« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2012, 02:40:59 pm »

I would suggest that you'll never get a smooth enough surface on a repaired shaft. So I'm afraid you'll need to get a new one. Or at least a replacement shaft - do you know anyone who's got a lathe?
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Lady Evelyn Grey
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« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2012, 03:19:23 pm »

Unfortunately, I don't know anyone with a lathe and your concern has only confirmed my worry about the use of mended spindle. Pity. I was hoping to keep this one until I could learn to make my own.
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von Corax
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Prof. Darwin Prætorius von Corax


« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2012, 03:28:10 pm »

It's hard to offer definitive suggestions without photos of the actual damage, but I should think mending with a good-quality wood glue followed by sanding with progressively-fine grit (ending with something in the 1200-1500 range) would offer at least a stopgap solution.
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Lady Chrystal
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Wales Wales


Lady Adventurer, Chronicler


« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2012, 03:49:45 pm »

I'd suggest taking measurements and good-quality photos of the spindle before you do anything else with it - they'll be invaluable if you do find someone who can help.

Good luck with it - and keep us informed as to yoru progress.
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Lady Evelyn Grey
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« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2012, 04:27:41 pm »

Thank you both so much for your help and encouragement!

I think I shall try von Corax's suggestion- stop by the hardware store and pick up some glue and sand paper. If nothing else, they will be useful materials to have on hand later in life. But progress shall be recorded diligently whatever the result!
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Drew P
Zeppelin Admiral
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« Reply #6 on: June 03, 2012, 07:07:58 pm »

Oh,I thought you had a automobile question-sorry.
What is the shaft diameter? Could a small dowel rod take its place?
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Professor J. Cogsworthy
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Aude Aliquid Dignum


« Reply #7 on: June 05, 2012, 10:05:47 pm »

( pardon me if I'm a bit blunt )

I've worked as a cabinetmaker. I've repaired furniture

The thing I hated to get the most was something that an amateur
tried to fix themselves and failed.

Not clear if  you broke the DISK or the DOWEL.....

IF it was the disk.......

IF you can clean off all the rubber cement

and

IF you have all the pieces

White 'school' glue or Yellow wood glue should have been your glue choice.

Rubber cement is not the right kind of glue.

If it was the dowel I'd be willing to bet that it is a standard size and a trip
to the hardware store would supply a replacement.

To get the broken shaft out...... trim it carefully flush and then drill it out
and replace.

Drilling it out would also let you put a dowel of known size in
its place..... I'd recommend a 'bradpoint' drill bit and being very careful to
get as close the the center as possible... ( work slowly and let the bit cut.
Don't push on it to make it cut faster. )

IF you do not have a drill I'm thinking it might be better to just get a new one
unless you want an excuse to get a drill.... then this is a good excuse.....
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Lady Evelyn Grey
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« Reply #8 on: June 06, 2012, 03:59:14 am »

Ha. No apologies needed for bluntness, Professor. I can only imagine how frustrating it is to not only receive a broken piece of furniture but also the bumbling of an amateur carpenter. Luckily a drop spindle is an inexpensive repair to learn how to work with wood.

So, continuing the enthralling journey of the broken drop spindle:

Upon further consideration, repairing the dowel through the means of glue and sand paper seemed impossible- plus I was missing the small hook on the bottom.

So today I went to our local hardware store (small, family owned- every possible piece of equipment piled into as small a space as possible) and explained my dilemma. We found a wooden rod the same diameter as the broken Dowel, some small hooks, sandpaper, and Titebond II premium wood glue (is this a good brand?). They were even kind enough to a) remove the broken dowel from the disk and b) cut the rod into an appropriate length. Huzzah for family business on a slow day! Unfortunately all this was done in a closed back room so I wasn't able to see the methods used.

Tomorrow I am planning on gluing the dowel into the disk. It seems a simple enough procedure, but any advice is always appreciated.

All in all, this is turning into the best of all possible scenarios: I am not buying a replacement and I'm learning how to make one in the future!

Thank you all for your help. I know spinning isn't the most steampunk of activities- but wearing a hat that you not only knitted but also spun the yarn for is a sensation not unlike taking apart and recreating a more mechanical apparatus.
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von Corax
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« Reply #9 on: June 06, 2012, 07:06:09 am »

Yay! Good on you, Lady Evelyn!

You still might want to examine the surface finish on the dowel, and consider whether it needs sanding. I'm sure that for spinning, a certain freedom from snags and splinters is required.

Prof. Cogsworthy: No apology necessary. I always defer to those who are expert in areas where I am not.
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Professor J. Cogsworthy
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« Reply #10 on: June 06, 2012, 05:28:00 pm »

I use Titebond II and III.

Sanding first is a great idea.

Twist a rubber band into the dowel under the disk before the gluing. The disk can sit
on the rubber band and then you can remove the band and clean up any glue there
with a razor knife. Cleaning up the wet glue is done with a damp rag.

HOWEVER with that damp rag will come the need to resand the parts you got wet
as the water will cause the grain to swell somewhat.That should be fairly easy to
do though.
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trampledbygeese
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« Reply #11 on: June 07, 2012, 02:23:24 am »

If you are looking to repair it for appearance sake, just ignore me.  But if you seek to spin with it, there are a few things you need to take into consideration.  Speaking as a spinster first and mad inventor/repairer of wheels, spindles, and looms, second.

Repairing a drop spindle is a bit more complicated than regular wood work.  A spindle needs to have very good balance - the shaft directly in line with the centre of the weight (not always the actual centre of the circle) - for it to function efficiently.  In the past, most spindles were made with removable whorls (the wheel shaped part).  A spinster (person who spins, married or otherwise) would only own two or three whorls during their entire life, but would often need to change shafts.  It is a Drop Spindle after all.  Broken shafts come as part of the territory.  In the past, the whorl was not attached to the shaft.  The shaft was tapered on both ends, and widest close to the bottom where the whorl sits.  The whorl was usually just jammed onto the shaft.  This makes the whorl easier to remove when the shaft brakes.

If the whorl is broken, it's best to start again with a new spindle.  If you actually intend to use the spindle, there is no fixing this.  Any repairs are going to change the balance of the spindle.

The photo is of a bottom whorl (also sometimes called low whorl, European spindle, slow spindle, &c.) drop spindle.  Given that the centre of gravity is lower on these (as opposed to a top whorl, fast, Egyptian, &c. spindle), there is some forgiveness with the balance - aka, easier to fix. 

A broken shaft can (and should) be replaced.  How hard it is to remove depends on how the original was made.  But making a shaft can be as easy as finding an old chopstick and a pen knife or you can go all out and use a lathe.  The wood needs to be hard wood and stable.  Other than that, there are many ways to create a new spindle shaft, so long as it works and the balance is right.
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Lady Evelyn Grey
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« Reply #12 on: June 10, 2012, 05:22:06 pm »

If nothing else, this experiment has been an excellent vocabulary builder for the different parts of the spindle.

So! The adventure continues:

Work and tiredness kept me from gluing the pieces together until two days ago. First, I measured off the appropriate height from the remnants of the old shaft, attached the rubber band to hold the whorl steady (excellent suggestion Professor!) slathered on glue in the appropriate area and fitted the whorl on the shaft. More glue was coaxed into the space between whorl and shaft with the aide of a q-tip. I let it alone for a day and it now appears sturdy.

As my description suggested, this was not the most elegant fix. Professor, you may wish to avert your eyes- this was indeed the bumbling of an amateur! So my next step will be to sand off the excess of glue that I was unable to wipe off. After that, I will attach a small hook to the bottom to hold the yarn.

Trampledbygeese, do you have any suggestions for how to check the balance of the spindle now that it is (mostly) repaired?
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