How to Make a Spinning Wheel Out of PVC Pipe

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A hand-driven spinning wheel can be made from simple and easily obtained components
A hand-driven spinning wheel can be made from simple and easily obtained components (Image: spinning wheel image by BONNIE C. MARQUETTE from Fotolia.com)

A spinning wheel is a small machine powered by hand or pedal that allows you to spin fibers into threads and yarns. You can build your own spinning wheel, but instead of using a complicated woodworking pattern, you can assemble a simple, easy-to-use machine out of PVC and other easily found items. This spinning wheel is compact and can fit nicely in small spaces for those concerned about storage, and it features a hand-operated design.

Things You'll Need

  • Four PVC elbow fittings
  • Four 6-inch long, 1-inch diameter pieces of PVC pipe
  • 12 PVC T fittings
  • Four 3-inch-long, 1-inch diameter pieces of PVC pipe
  • Two 11-inch-long, 1-inch diameter pieces of PVC pipe
  • Four 5-inch-long, 1-inch pieces of PVC pipe
  • Four 21-inch-long, 1-inch pieces of PVC pipe
  • Two 20-inch-long, 1-inch pieces of PVC pipe
  • Four 16-inch-long, 1-inch pieces of PVC pipe
  • Power drill
  • Size 11 knitting needle
  • 2-inch pulley
  • 26-inch bicycle wheel, without tire
  • 4 PVC end caps
  • Cord
  • Glue

Lay out one of the elbow fittings so one opening is pointing to the right and the other is pointing down. This is the starting point for the base of the wheel.

Insert a 6-inch PVC pipe into the horizontal opening in the elbow and push a T fitting onto the other end of the pipe. The single opening side of the T should be pointing upward.

Place a 3-inch PVC pipe in the right side opening of the T fitting and attach another T fitting to the end of the pipe. The single opening of the T fitting should be pointing down.

Insert an 11-inch pipe into the right opening of the second T fitting and copy the previous arrangement in reverse following the 11-inch pipe. You should end up with a row of parts in this order: elbow, 6-inch pipe, T fitting, 3-inch pipe, T fitting, 11-inch pipe, T fitting, 3-inch pipe, T fitting, 6-inch pipe, elbow.

Make a second row of parts in the same exact pattern as you did for the first. Lay both rows parallel to each other so the openings in the elbows are facing each other.

Connect the two rows of parts with the 5-inch long pieces. Insert one piece between the elbows at each end and into the two sets of T fittings that are pointing inward in the middle of the rows.

Turn the remaining empty T fittings so the openings are facing upward. Insert a 21-inch pipe into each of the T fitting openings to create the four legs of the spinning wheel.

Place a T fitting on top of each of the legs with the single opening aligned horizontally. The single openings should be pointing toward each other along the length of the base.

Insert the 20-inch pipes between the horizontal openings to give the legs more support. The horizontal pipes should be parallel to the length of the base.

Drill ½-inch holes in each of the four 16-inch pipes 2 inches from one end of the pipe. One pair of pipes should have the hole drilled through both sides and the other pair should have a hole drilled through just one side.

Insert the two pipes with the holes drilled through both sides into two of the vertical T fitting openings on the legs. The holes in the pipes should line up with each other across the width of the base. This pair can be placed at either end of the base.

Pass the needle through one pipe, slide the pulley onto the end of the needle, then pass the needle through the second pipe, so that the pulley is positioned on the needle between the pipes.

Insert the remaining pair of pipes into the last two T fitting openings. Turn the pipes so that the drilled holes are facing each other across the width of the base.

Slip the bicycle wheel in between the pipes and push the threads on either side of the hub into the holes in the pipes. Make sure the wheel is securely held in the holes.

Push an end cap onto the tops of each of the pipes to cover the edges and tie a cord around the wheel and pulley to complete the spinning wheel. The pulley and the needle need to turn as a unit, so that the needle spins. If the pulley is loose, glue it into place.

Tips & Warnings

  • The end caps should fit snugly, however if they're too loose for your personal preference, use glue.
  • Do not use the spinning wheel to support heavy items, as it is not designed to bear weight.

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