Bobbin Winder and Boat Shuttle


After making a loom and playing around a bit weaving with a stick shuttle I realized the potential benefits of the boat shuttle for speeding up the weaving process. And of course, who is going to load a bobbin by hand? Well, compared to a spinning wheel, a bobbin winder is a walk in the park. I gathered up a few scrap pieces of cherry, walnut, oak, even some birch ply.


I probably made the bobbin winder a bit taller than necessary, but I wanted a good wrapped angle to allow the little tiny drive whorl to work well without a great deal of tension on the drive band. The crank wheel has no bearing and rides on a 1/4″ steel rod secured with washer and cotter pin on the other side. The axle for the bobbin mandrel is a press fit for both the drive whorl and the mandrel. Seeing as it generates some pretty good revolution per turn, I pressed in some ironwood bearings either side of the post. I’ll have to oil them, but they allow the axle to turn smoothly and freely.

I never actually got around to calculating the drive ratio, but the crank wheel has a 6″ diameter to the drive whorl’s 1/2″ diameter. Since most of the yarn that I make ends up in a skein and not on a cone, I’ll most likely be winding off from an umbrella swift.


The boat shuttle measures about 12″ long and 1″ thick. I needed a thin shuttle because the shed on the loom I made is not terribly wide. Making an open bottomed shuttle didn’t seem like a bad idea when my maximum warp width is 20″. I looked at many designs online before sketching out a cardboard template for the top view and the side view. Before cutting the profile the slit that the yarn carries through off the bobbin was mortised, as well as the bobbin hollow. The mortise for the bobbin and spindle hollow was cut by drilling at the four corners and connecting with a scroll saw. The outside curves were cut on a band saw and cleaned up with a cabinet scraper and sandpaper. The little scrap of cherry I made this out of turned out to have a pitch pocket towards one end. In one sense it is a blemish, but does personalize the object and I actually love natural defects that don’t compromise the structure of the piece. Because this is for myself, I decided not to chuck it in the burn pile.


The spindle was made by flattening one end of a 3/16″ steel rod and cross drilling it for a brass pin. It is secured at the other end by a rare earth magnet.

Of course, as with any yarn tool, it must be slick and smooth. I finished up by sanding out to 400 grit and applying three coats of paste wax. I can’t wait to get it loaded up and weaving!

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