Types of Spindles

Woodland Woodworking spindles are high precision tools.  Producing a quality spindle is more about engineering than woodworking.  Every part of the spindle, from the shape of the spinning tip to the thickness of the flicking tip, is considered and optimized to produce a spindle that is not only aesthetically pleasing but also a joy to spin.

The shafts of our spindles are usually made from sustainable woods that are specially chosen for their tendency to not warp.  A great deal of care is taken to ensure the shafts are perfectly straight.  When the spindle shaft is finished on the lathe, there is no visible or palpable movement at the flicking tip and they all feature a fine flicking tip for fast spinning.  They also do not have metal spinning tips, which can damage some spinning surfaces such as wooden bowls and can produce annoying clanking sounds in ceramic, glass, or metal bowls.

Spindles with separate whorls are balanced internally (i.e. there are no visible balancing pins) with pin weights as small as 0.01 oz to ensure a smooth, wobble-free spin.  When allowed by the spindle design (including goal weight of the spindle), whorls are hollowed out to produce as much rim-weighting as possible, which increases spin time.  Many people are surprised by the long spin time of our spindles, which is achieved through meticulous craftsmanship.

We craft two types of spindles: support spindles and drop spindles.


Support Spindles

 

Tibetan Style Spindles

 

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The Tibetan style spindle is our longest-spinning variety of support spindle.  These spindles are typically between 0.75 and 1.5 oz (20 to 40 grams) depending on the wood(s) used and typically have spin times in excess of 45 seconds.  The whorls are between 1 5/8" and 2" in diameter and are hollowed out to distribute the mass as much as possible away from the shaft for a long spin time.  The shaft is relatively thin, which helps to increase the whorl to shaft weight ratio and improve spin time, and it has a thin flicking tip, which provides a relatively fast spin.  These spindles are available with custom painted or burned designs.  


Wand Spindles and Russian Style Spindles

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The spinning characteristics of these spindles are essentially the opposite of the Tibetan style spindle.  They spin very fast and can produce a lot of twist in a short period of time, but the spin time is not nearly as long - generally between 5 and 20 seconds depending on the diameter and weight.  These spindles are typically between 0.4 and 1.5 oz (10 to 40 grams) depending on the wood(s) used.


Teacup Spindles

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The Teacup was designed to have the ideal combination of spin time and speed.  Named for the whorl's appearance of a tea cup nested in its saucer, the Teacup is a lightweight hybrid support spindle designed for those who find most Tibetan style spindles too heavy or difficult to flick, but prefer a longer spin time than found in a typical Russian style spindle.  The slender shaft and rim-weighted whorl produce an agile spindle with an effortless yet sustained spin appropriate for a wide variety of spinning styles and fibers.  These spindles are generally between 0.5 and 1.25 oz (15 to 38 grams) and spin times are typically between 20 and 45 seconds.  Whorls are around 1 1/2" in diameter and are available with designs painted onto or burned into them, and are also available in "specialty" woods such as burls without an embellished design. 

Teacups with whorls made from denser woods have more hollowed out whorls to keep the weight down and will typically have longer spin times than Teacups with whorls made from less dense woods due to increased rim weighting.  Some customers have asked why the whorls on all Teacups are not hollowed out.  The simple answer is it produces a better spindle.  While it is true a 1 oz spindle with a hollowed out whorl will have a longer spin time than a 1 oz spindle without a hollowed out whorl (all other factors being equal), if you take that 1 oz spindle without a hollowed out whorl and hollow it out, it will actually have a shorter spin time.  This is due to a property of physics called moment of inertia, which is the sum of the products of the mass of each particle in the whorl with the square of each particle's distance from the axis of rotation (i.e. the shaft).  In other words, when that whorl is hollowed out, there are fewer particles and therefore a smaller sum, which leads to a shorter spin time.


Cauldron Spindles

 

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The spinning characteristics of cauldron spindles are similar to the Teacups.


Bead Spindles

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Spin time on our bead spindles is typically between 15 and 30 seconds.  They are easy to flick and have a fast spin. The standard bead whorl shape is spherical, but there are also specialty bead spindles such as owl beads, penguin beads, and dragon egg beads. These spindles are generally between 0.75 and 1.5 oz (20 to 40 grams). 


Wee Folk and Birdhouse Spindles

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These spindles tend to be heavier due to the larger shaft - typically between 1 and 1.5 oz (20 to 40 grams) - but are surprisingly easy to flick.  The spin time tends to be around 20 to 40 seconds. 

 


Top Whorl Drop Spindles

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Our top whorl drop spindles are designed to provide a fast, long, and balanced spin. In contrast to support spindles, it is more important to use a drop spindle of an appropriate weight. If too light of a spindle is used to produce thicker yarn, it may have insufficient momentum to achieve a sustained spin or properly twist the fiber, and too heavy of a spindle can break thinner yarn. Heavier drop spindles are also sometimes preferred for plying. Our drop spindles are typically between 0.75 and 2 oz (20 to 55 grams) depending on the wood(s) used.  The hook is made from 0.05" spring tempered (rigid) stainless steel and is carefully bent to ensure precise centering of the leader.  The whorls on all drop spindles are hollowed out to provide the longest possible spin time and are pin weighted (internally, so there are no visible pins) to ensure a long, balanced spin.