Building an electric spinning wheel – Part 1

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Building an electric spinning wheel

It’s been a long time since I’ve spun, but somehow the bug is back. I know spinning is supposed to be calming, meditative, yada yada … and I do enjoy it for those reasons too, but when faced with a mountain of fleece and a mad infant fascinated by everything lethal (when you see your child crawling at speed towards your wool picker :O …) you know you need to make some changes.

Enter the electric spinning wheel (e-spinner) idea.

Having sold my Ashford Country Spinner, I was planning on splurging on their electric model, but when it came to it, I just couldn’t do it. Considering that this is just basic hardware, and that the engineer works in motors, it seemed silly not to try to build one myself. This way, I can hopefully create a lovely lightweight model for on the go (Ashford’s E-spinner is a hefty 2.8kg!), inspired by Heavenly Handspinning’s Vespera and the nifty Electric Eel Wheel (why are these great products always States-side?!).

Choosing a flyer

I learned to spin on the fantastic Louet S20 – basic, beautiful, large orifice, huge bobbin capacity. Sold.

A lot of the e-spinner designs use an Ashford Giant flyer, and I considered this, but why would I step away from my Louet when I have the flyer here ready to go? The flyer is by far the most expensive part of the design when you’re making a wheel yourself, but if you’re unlikely to be using your traditional spinner and your e-spinner at the same time, why not just shift the flyer between the two? Louet also manufactures a high-speed flyer and bobbins that are compatible with the basic model, so if I want to go faster in the future, the part will be ready and waiting.

Housing the flyer

If you’re using a flyer from your existing wheel, it makes sense to simply replicate the housing for the flyer … This is particularly simple with the Louet as it’s such a basic design. I measured everything up (it’s three pieces, it’s not rocket science, but somehow I still managed to lose a cm on my measurements for the front piece – thanks Stilldemenz). Here’s what I needed for my faux-Louet housing (corrected measurements):

I’ve found that if you take a cute baby to Bauhaus, you’re quite likely to get assistance, so I walked away with my three pieces perfectly cut, including the semi-circular orifice cutout. The wood came from the off-cuts bin, so this cost me just €3.00.

Assembly was a simple case of pre-drilling the holes and screwing and glueing them together.

Irish tension belt

Building an electric spinning wheel

The Louet uses an Irish tension system, with a leather strap fulling over the flyer. Easy peasy … leather belt from the secondhand shop, large hole punched out for the screws. The belt is attached on the left-hand side, about 2.5-3 cm down, and then loops over onto a tightening mechanism. This was fairly expensive as I could only find it in the nautical section, but it still set me back just €1.80. I mounted two O-ring screws with internal diameter slightly larger than the screw (6mm). The ring screws I used were actually far too large, but it’s all I had at the time … I have to see whether they’re too large and the screw rattles about a bit.

Orifice housing

Building an electric spinning wheel

On the Louet wheel, the nylon orifice on the flyer sits in a brass cradle tacked to the top of the flyer housing. For this, I bought a stainless steel hose clamp from the plumbing department. Some models have a raw edge, but I bought one where the edge is slightly bevelled or rounded downwards. I then used a mallet to create the shape, drilled a hole in each side and tacked it onto the top of the post. I’ll have to see how this holds up against wear and tear, but I did spy a few possible alternatives in brass in the plumbing section in case this doesn’t work out.


And that’s how far I’ve got! So far, so easy … next steps:

  • sourcing nylon tubing to hold the flyer shaft
  • finding a drive band
  • working out which motor and controller we need

Part 2 coming as soon as I have enough brainpower to figure out how motors actually work.

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Comments 7

  1. Joann Wagner 12 December 2017

    Inspired by part 1 and anxiously awaiting part 2 of the electric spinning wheel. Loving your design so far. Any idea when you will be able to post the rest of the project? Your blob is so easy to follow. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Lesley Penfold 6 July 2018

    Hello, also very much looking forward to part 2. Looking very promising so far



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  4. Jeremy Main 20 November 2018

    Can I drop you a note to pull up into shape on the motor and electrics, as thanks for getting me pointed? It’s frighteningly simple.

  5. Karen Grieves 10 February 2019

    I used an electric screw driver motor and speed controller both from eBay. Works just great. The pulley I also got on ebay

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