A Flax Wheel

A few other books in my (cough Cindy's..) library that you might find interesting.

Care and Feeding of Spinning Wheels by Karen Pauli - this is perhaps more practical advice on using them, less on types.

Spinning Wheels, Spinners and Spinning by Patricia Baines - has a lot of interesting historical pictures that might be interesting.

And the one book by Carson Cooper - Guide to Making Spinning Wheels Saxony, Irish Castle and Accelerator Wheels at http://www.ztwist.com/ - this book has a fair number of detailed diagrams with dimensions. I suspect this might be the closest to being a practical drafting aid that I have seen anyway.

Edit: I should probably note that Coopers wheels are very very pretty, but the buzz I've heard in the spinning community is that they often don't spin very well for various reasons. I believe that that is likely more due to some specifics of the construction than overall design though.
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Yeah the saxony style wheels are pretty popular as they have that "classic spinning wheel" look.

The Schacht Reeves wheel is generally fairly well liked: https://schachtspindle.com/product/schacht-reeves-spinning-wheel/ - it's modeled after a wheel design made by a fellow named Rick Reeves which were some of the nicer wheels made (http://www.dettasspindle.net/Spinningwheels/ReevesStuhr.html has some pictures).

Another popular modern maker is Kromski - http://kromskina.com/spinning/ - the joke is that Kromski is Polish for "needs more oil" as they are notoriously loud/squeeky with mediocre fitment, they have some of the prettier lathe work on modern wheels though.
So recently on one of the for sale sites a moderately nice looking Norwegian style spinning wheel showed up that was made by an unknown maker. As best as we can figure it's based off of place from the British magazine "Practical Woodworking" - largely based on a comment here: https://rossiterspinningweaving.webs.com/spinningwheels.htm which shows a functionally identical wheel.

Some further searching showed that the designer was most probably "David Bryant" based on another person detailing their build here: http://notewhilemakingaspinningwheel.blogspot.com/

Which finally brought me to that the David Bryant fellow is still selling plans here: http://craftdesigns.co.uk/

As sort of an aside the same gent published a nice intro to some of the Victorian parlor wheels which are.. well.. gorgeous (they're something I've contemplated as a retirement project before. highly unlikely before then because the time spent on one would be considerable).. https://regionalfurnituresociety.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/a01-bryant.pdf

Obligatory picture of the wheel that started this rabbit hole (which we are not .. currently.. planning to buy).
Well, here's another work in progress. This is for a new plan for an old-fashioned spinning wheel. I'm working from information I found from 1963 which turns out to be full of errors so it's slow going. Not sure I've ever done as many "turned" pieces in a single project as in this one. A few parts left at this stage. Waiting for info from an experienced spinner who has a similar wheel.
Hello, I am curious about the actual wheel that you modeled. You mentioned it being a 1963 model, but do you have any additional information. I know someone who has this exact wheel and is trying to ascertain it's origin.

Many thanks!

Hi Jen,

I don't really have anymore information on it. I worked from a magazine article in an old magazine. It seems like a very common sort of wheel, though.
I think you should build one. ;)

Note that we currently have (at last count.. unless one snuck in) nine different wheels in various states of functionality (about half are fully working I think). So we're perhaps a bit more selective on what we buy now, either really good deals that need work, wheels that need saving, or some things that are truly special :)


If you want to PM me some details I can try to help although sometimes it's a bit hit & miss. There were a good handful of different wheels that look awfully similar floating around from that timeframe. There are also some other really smart folks that can likely help, I'm an intermittent participant in the facebook antique spinning wheel group which has https://www.facebook.com/groups/Antiquewheels - the publisher of https://www.spwhsl.com/ is on there and either her or one of the other folks can 95% of the time ID a wheel so you might have good luck there or one of the ravelry boards.
I‘ve learnt so much reading this thread, that I can’t wait to see its continuation, with the building process. At first I had no idea about what a flax wheel was, here they are called “ruecas”
I'm not sure where these plans I was working from originate. There are some other odd naming things. In my mind this wheel has only one maiden but it is called maidens. The MoA is called the Main Holder. I did write incorrectly. The distaff is called the Wool Bar and the piece it is leaning against is called the Wool Carrier. The spokes of the wheel are called Toggles and the crank is called Excenter. I expect the person who did the plans isn't a native English speaker and probably also not someone who is into spinning. Probably took an existing unit for measuring and made the plans from it.

I understand the reasoning for the through mortise but at least until I draw threads on the tension knob, I'll leave it like it is so the lack of threads doesn't show. :D
Yes, the names are all wrong for the parts of a spinning wheel. The thing on the far side of the bobbin from the flyer is called the whorl, not the sheaves.
She said that "castle wheels have the flyer above the wheel", although there is a lot of variance on that concept..

One of the better technical books on relative dimensions and usages is "alden amos, big book of handspinning" - he had a rather wry sense of humor though so you have to read it with a bit of an eye towards when he was tongue in cheek.
The Amos book has a lot of information on processing the fiber and it's an expensive book. However, there is the book about Canadian spinning wheels, which covers a lot of technical aspects and that is available for $16 as an ebook from the University of Ottawa Press.

I wonder if I can find that book online.
You can get 'Selected Canadian spinning wheels in perspective' as an e-book for $16 from the University of Ottawa Press and it is specific wheels, rather than adding in the fiber stuff in the Amos book. The Amos book is out of print and pretty pricey as a result.
Hey Ryan. No. We don't count hand planes or, in this house, bikes, apparently. :D

I do have a question you might be able to answer. I've modeled the "mother of all" as per the old article but I'm thinking it must be wrong. In order to get the flyer, bobbin, and the two sheaves to fit and get the sheaves close to lined up with the wheel, I ended up shortening the bobbin so the winding part is less than 3 in. long and I had to cut a good 3/4 in. off the horns of the flyer. The bobbin is supposed to be 4-3/8 long plus the mushroomed head. I also had to extend the leathers that assembly fits on so the assembly is quite a way out in front of the maidens. Could you give me some rough ideas about dimensions on the mother of all? I think I need to move the maiden next to the sheaves over a bit and add even more on the orifice side so I can stretch the bobbin and flyer back out and slide things back away from the wheel a bit.

In most wheels, the turnings on the whorl (sheaves) side maiden are trimmed back to allow the whorl to sit closer to the leather bearing. Definitely looks like the width of the mother-of-all and positions for the maidens are a bit wonky. It isn't unusual for the uprights that support the wheel to be tilted or even offset slightly to tip the wheel a bit towards the right in this view, allowing the MOA to not have to ride out so far to the left. The flyer design shown is also peculiar - usually they are more of an open horseshoe shape.