Handmade Dodec Spinning Wheel

One of the best things about working with the people I do is the constant challenge set for me. My gal pal at work is a spinner and knitter and likes nothing more (kids allowing) to sit and spin for a few hours. She already has a fully functional (and expensive) spinning wheel, but found an article on the web dating back to what we surmised was the 1970’s on how to make your own spinning wheel for less than $7.

So… challenge accepted.. Can I make a spinning wheel for under $10….

I found the plans she was talking about on www.Porterthreads.com.

Dodec Spinning Wheel Brochure

Up to now I hadn’t thought about the mechanics that go towards making what amounts to a big pile of “fluff” to a tight twine good enough to knit with, but the idea was intriguing that something so “engineered” could be made this cheap.

I did have to purchase some additional imperial drill bits, as I only have metric (I’m English don’t forget) and although I could have adjusted the plans accordingly I didn’t want to try to finagle them until I’d had a chance to do it as suggested the first time.

The plans have a comprehensive list of parts needed, so I won’t replicate them here for fear of missing something. They also have comprehensive instructions to follow, so I’ll keep my narrative to a minimum.

I did buy more wood than the plans called for. The plans cut the wood quite close to the amount purchased. I usually have “measurement” issues so now I’ve learnt to start off with more wood than I think I need. With the nuts and bolts the whole thing came to less than $20. Slightly more than the $7 promised but I supposed that’s inflation for you.

I also cut all the parts out first and laid them out. This means I could sand and paint them first. I personally think, when you can, its gives a nicer finish when you can sand in those tiniest of corners and awkward bits that coupled with no paint pooling in the corners. My paint of choice is “Milk Paint”. Here I went for a Buttercup yellow.


Assembly of the drive wheel was actually less stressful than I had imaged. The jig you make out of cardboard is a lot more useful than the one cut from wood. In fact I don’t recall using that one at all. I used small pins and glue. Allowing overnight set up at each stage. I had a small wooden drawer knob that was a perfect size to attach the treadle twine too.

The base of the stand was easy to assemble using some scrap wood instead of the real one. This means that when the painted one is fitted, it’ll be slightly harder and a tighter fit.


Dry fitting the treadle made me see that the treadle had come out a little long, so ended up trimming a few mm’s of the end.


Sanding the spindle ensured that my nails got a good workout. I use a small palm sander and holding these for sanding made life a little tricky. I used a pencil line on each block to ensure that I got each one the same. Gluing the dowel was, again, a little tricky; just ensure you wipe any excess glue of straight away. Also I would suggest to take heed and make a few of them, the first spindle broke in the car on its second journey.


After assembly with butchers twine, it became apparently that the tension was going to be a problem on the drive wheel. The new owner of the wheel upgraded to a new “rubber” drive band from one of the main wheel suppliers.


Final thoughts:

I had no idea how the wheel is supposed to act. I was genuinely pleased that as the treadle went up and down, the wheel when around and the spindle turned. However my gal pal says that although it is a functional wheel the treadle takes some while to get used to and she hasn’t found a comfortable length for the treadle twine to sit so it moves smoothly. For those beginning the spinning adventure this is a great wheel to transition from the drop spindle at a cheap rate. However it doesn’t take the place of an fully engineered wheel.

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