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Rope Spinners

Rope Spinners.

Figure 1: A Collection of Rope Spinners.


A spinner is just a piece of wood (generally), many times longer than it is wide, that can swing freely on a hand-held axle. The choice of materials is huge, limited only by what's on hand, or what you can afford.

Additional names for this type of tool are:

Spinner, Mayan spinner, rakestraw spinner, rope spinner, twister, rope twister, hair twister, twisting paddle, whirligig, tarabilla, tarrabee, tarabi, tarabe, taravia, taravilla, taravita, torteiral or torneiral.[840] [420] [977]

This tool is most often just called a "Rope Spinner" because it's used to spin rope, and English ropemakers just aren't clever with names.


Things to consider when making a rope spinner:

Active parts of a wooden rope spinner.

Figure 2: Working Parts of a Wooden Rope Spinner. Axle on the Left, Body on the Right.



The Axle on the left in Figure 1, and in Figure 2, was made from a piece of ash. It was trimmed down to a rough 3/4" dowel, about 10 inches long. A groove was cut about 3/4" back from one end, just deep enough that the remaining center would fit in the hole of the Body. The extra, outside wood on the Axle was then carefully split off, and the finished shaft was sanded and smoothed.

The other three Axles in Figure 1 are, from left to right:


You can find very detailed instructions for size and shape of the Body[305] in reference books, but there really isn't any need to get fancy.

The first two Spinners in Figure 1 (from left to right) were split from some oak fire wood, then smoothed to get rid of splinters. A little extra care was taken around the hole, so the Body would swing cleanly and not catch on the Axle head.

The third Body was just an interesting branch I found somewhere. I liked the looks of it, drilled a hole, cut a groove, and that was it.

The last Body in Figure 1 was made from an old broken tobacco stick - probably oak.


Simple. Slide the spinner Body over the Axle until it hits the Axle head. Grab the other end of the Axle.

See the section on Spinners if you need help on how to use your new Rope Spinner.


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