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Printable Wool Winder

by matthewlaberge Nov 21, 2011
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With a -254 size o-ring the parts don't clear each other like you show in the picture. The crank handle hits the carriage arm, and it won't fit the spacing shown on the ball winder base. Or are you significantly stretching the o-ring to fit.

Hello Riffraffs,

Yes, the o-ring gets stretched quite a bit. There is a PDF that shows you the recommended distance between the crank pulley and driven pulley.

This could be a good design, if it didn't need about $50 worth of hardware. I think a lot more effort could have been put into using as many of one size of fastener as possible. For those thinking about making this: while it's a cool proof of concept, this really wasn't designed with manufacturing in mind. You'd almost be better off purchasing a premade ball winder just to avoid the hassle of finding all the different hardware types. It's especially frustrating because you can't just buy one of each component, you have to buy them in 10-20 packs. It would have been better to at least just pick one diameter so you don't have to find 6 different types of nut. I was excited at first, but this turned out to be extremely disappointing due to the easily avoidable hardware issues. A good first attempt, but definitely needs refinement.

what is the spacing for the bolt holes in the wood base?

Hey Matthew!

I'm planning on building one of these out of wood for my fiance as a wedding present. How important are the ratios of the various rotating parts to get a good winding? If they are pretty important, could you tell me what the ratios are? (Or just give me the diameters of the different parts and I can work out the ratios).


Hello John,

The ratios are not critical, I have actually done some experimentation with them as this winder has trouble winding lace weight yarn, it tends to skip and not really form the proper square cake you really want, but it works great for most every other type for yarn. I don't have the exact ratio on hand (its not a round number) but I'd shoot for around 13 to 1.


First, I'd like to thank Matthew for sharing this wonderful project. It helped me justify my $3,000 3D printer purchase to my wife! I'm not finished with the build, but I'd like to share a few observations.

This project, to some extent, is like too many of my other home projects. That is, it is "ready, fire, aim". That is, I order parts before I've fully understood exactly how I'm going to build. Usually, this is because I order many of my parts from Ebay (from China). Parts are cheap with little of no shipping charge. You just have to wait 3 to 4 weeks to get your stuff. The bearings and O-rings came from Ebay, the threaded rod from Amazon. I'll purchase a spring locally. I've got about $40 invested but that is somewhat misleading because you can't just buy the quantity you need. You have to purchase more, like a "10 pack" of bearings.

The parts printed out very nicely. Bearings were a comfortable "press-fit". After I could not press fully in by hand, I went my shop vise and fully seated them. I didn't have such good luck with the 3 M3 nuts that fit into the yarn spool. I broke the spool where it transitions from solid to hollow. Next time, I'll widen the slots. A press-fit is not needed here since the nuts are retained by screws. Perhaps Matthew will share his "removable" spool design as that sound like a good feature.

I like how Matthew used a sheet of plastic for the base. Before I commit to plastic, though, I'm going to build on a piece of plywood. Also, instead of using tapped holes as Matthew did, I'm going to use "through-holes" and different mounting hardware. I've not had very good luck tapping plastic. For the drive crank, this is my proposed hardware sequence - M6 screw, washer, drive wheel, washer, M6 nut, base, M6 lock washer, M6 nut. I haven't totally thought out the threaded rod attachment yet.


This looks great!

I tried to gather the parts online, and it looks like the total cost would exceed $40. Does that sound right, or am I going about this wrong?

That sounds a little high, however when I was building them regularly I was purchasing the parts in bulk so I got a discount on most everything. The biggest expense by far was the base, but I was using strange plastics and really thick acrylics. I was selling winders for $55 and barely made a dollar.

I'm curious, did you ever finish MKII? I saw a mention about it in the comments.

Hello Jon,

The MKII Winder design does indeed exist, I finished the design a few years ago and my mom uses it occasionally. it has some pretty nice features like a removable spindle that can be transferred to a lazy susan. Unfortunately the MKII winder also has some problems which is one of the reasons why I haven't released it. I have been wanting to create a MKIII design that combines the best of the MKI and MKII and release that, but just haven't made it a priority.

Hello Jon,

I spent a little time today to create a MKII style carriage that is a direct replacement for the MKI carriage. You will need two 606 bearings a 3mm x 19mm o-ring, an M6 Ny-Lock Nut and an m6 x 55mm BHCS. The files will be uploaded shortly.

What is the 3mm x 19mm o-ring used for? It can't seem to find it in any of the drawings.

This is only needed if you are building the MKII spindle design, they o-ring goes in a groove at the bottom of the threads to help keep the spindle tube on while winding.


Thanks for this.... bought a yarn winder from local store and it sucked (was $40 with an arm that moved back and forth).. Just made this one and works great!! Did have some problems with the files because some of the faces in wrong direction but was able to fix. Also remade all the parts except for the handle to use skate bearings, since that is what I had on stock.. Also used ninjaflex for the O-Rings.

Thanks for the great upload!


These parts looks amazing, my wool winder is broken (>20years old).
I uploaded these files to a 3D-printing service and I the people there advised me to fill the holes where the diameter changes for a better result. I quote:
"For holes that start big and continue at a smaller diameter it is best to close the hole for one layer, let's say 0.4mm thick. see https://3dhubs.s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/order/attachments/hole2.png"

What guys do you think?
I am pretty new to 3D printing and CAD, how hard is it to modify the files to do that?
Is there any software feature / plugin that already do that?



Do you have a parts breakdown, of the supplies that have to be purchased? Plus assembly instructions.

Hi, I made a winder for my wife.
But it's not winding good. It seems that i can't put enough pressure (or maybe to much) from the drive cone to the spindle base.
Is there a way to finetune this?
Thing is that the spindle is not turning with the cone. It sometimes does and sometimes doesn't.
Anyone an idea on how to solve this??


I would re-check the length of your spring, if it is not long enough there will not be enough pressure on the spindle tire to cause it to revolve and you will have symptoms similar to what you are describing. I don't think your spring pressure is too high, you will definitely know because you will have a very difficult time spinning the entire mechanism. Another thing to check is how consistent the pressure on the spindle tire is, does it slip at a specific place, does it slip randomly or is it just completely loose.

thanks for the tips.
I will try them out this week and replace the spring with a stronger or longer one.


Ok, so, maybe I'm crazy, but I can't figure out how to get the drive cone attached to the threaded rod... I've destroyed three of them trying all sorts of things. Any hints?

Hello Beisei,

You need to use a M8 tap to cut threads most of the way through the drive cone, you will then be able to thread the rod through the cone, the last partially unthreaded portion of cone will lock it in place.

This question reveals my noob status, but where can one buy single ball bearings of the type needed? Adding up the lots of 10 at thebigbearingstore and McMaster Carr means this machine would cost about $80 to make--just because of the minimum orders. My local hardware stores don't have these bearings.

Hello, I purchased the bearings from the Big Bearing store at a total of 9.06

Thanks for the tip Julzrolk, I will check them out. For my builds I purchased my bearings from VXB Bearings. Don't remember the cost off the top of my head.

Hello, I have printed all the plastic pieces and have begun to assemble, but I am having difficulty!!! Any chance someone could post an instructional video on how to assemble? Thank you! Also, MatthewLaBerge-Great design!

Hello Julzrolk,
Just wanted to let you know I'm putting together a winder shortly and will put together a video while assembling it. One thing to note, it the design I printed is a yet to be released MKII version of the winder with some notable changes, like smaller drive pulley, new carriage, and removable yarn spool as well as a "Yarn Buddy" aka lazy susanne for knitting direclty off the yarn spools. Look for a new design to be posted soon with better instructions.

Okay, great! I have not created a base yet, but have most of the parts ready to go. Any recommendations for what type of base I should use? I have some plexi glass laying around, but I also have some scrap wood. Thanks!!

I would recommend using whatever is heavier and stiffer, I like to use very dense plastics or hardwoods. I would use aluminum but it is cost prohibitive, steel would be ideal but I don't like working or finishing it.

Hello, thank you for your help. Any update on the video? I am thinking of designing a base and printing it. I'll share it with you if I end up doing that. Thanks again! I am looking forward to finally using the winder, it will save me lots of time-compared spooling yarn by hand.

Hello Julz,

This might take me some time, I don't currently have access to a winder. Is there a specific question I may be able o answer to help you song faster?

Hello, I'd like to make this wool-winder but there is one thing in the assembly I don't understand : there is a ball bearing enabling rotation between the spindle base and the carriage and then there is the drive cone supported by the spring which disable this rotation. So I don't understand what's the bearing purpose ? Can I just fix the spindle base on the carriage ?
Thank you.

Hello ounim,

You will need all of the bearings, I will attempt to explain the operation of the mechanism.

Consider the drive cone as stationary in relation to the base, it does not rotate as it is fixed to the main axle. The driven pulley is fixed around the main axle using two ball bearings allowing it to rotate about the axle. The carriage is fixed to the driven pulley with two screws causing it to rotate about the main axle with the driven pulley. The spindle base is fixed to the carriage using two smaller bearings allowing it to rotate independently of the carriage. The spindle base has an o-ring tire fixed in a groove, this o-ring tire makes contact with the drive cone causing the spindle base to rotate with the carriage. The spring between the drive cone and driven pulley is for increasing the friction between the spindle tire and drive cone, the carriage and spindle mechanism is not heavy enough on its own to ensure constant motion. The carriage rotates aprox 10-1/4 times for every rotation of the spindle base.

I hope this explanation makes sense and clears things up, if not let me know and I can post a video detailing the operation.

Is there any chance the spring is too long? I got the exact one listed in the parts list, but I cannot get the drive cone to sit low enough to engage the spindle base. It's compressed as far as it can be.

Hello Megbackus,

I apologize if the instructions were unclear, I have added a note in the instructions section.. You only need a small portion of the spring to load up the cartridge. I have been cutting about 10mm of the spring off, just slip the spring over a scrap dowel or m8 threaded rod and use a dremel to cut the spring to length. The bonus is one spring can be used to make several winders. Let me know if you have any other questions.

Just posted my MadeOne photo.

I made it as an Xmas present for my daughter who has developed a strong interest in knitting.

This was a true joy to print, and a good challenge to build.  The parts were all so different from each other and great fun to watch as they printed.  I started and finished the printing over the course of a weekend on my Makergear Prusa Mendel.

Thanks for including the M-C P/Ns.  It was a huge help.

I would suggest a few mods for the BOM:  

I substituted 5/16 for the M8 rods and nuts with no ill effects.  I also saw in your final photo that you counterbalanced the spindle with Qnty(4) M10 Nuts rather than Qnty(2).  I also added some washers beneath the drive pulley to reinforce the hole in my MDF board.

I'm still not sure about some of the blow-up photos in terms of which parts go where (e.g. I think the spring is under the drive cone), because the resolution is a little fuzzy.  I ended up leaving the spring out since it was hard to install with the cone at the same time.  Also, I have not found the PTFE tubing to be necessary.

Above all, THANK YOU for sharing this online.

IMHO, it is exactly the kind of thing that 3D printing at home was designed to produce.

Of course, now I have to figure out how to tweak the really great yarn swift that was posted here.  Would that I also had a laser cutter...


P.S.  What program uses the Master Files?  I mostly design in Openscad, and I've never seen files like these.

I use Pro/Engineer to design all of my stuff.

Hey George,

Thanks for the feedback, it's always great to hear what others think of the stuff I design. Most of your assumptions about where parts go we're correct, including the spring. The spring is there to maintain pressure between the carriage and the drive cone. If you are winding thick yarn the spring is not really necessary but if you wind very thin sock yarn like my mom does you will need the spring to provide enough pressure to keep the spindle from slipping. The same thing goes for the PTFE tube, it is not necessary for thick yarn, but if you wind sock yarn you will cut a nice slot through the guide ini no time

This is real neat.

I am currently working on this, not directly related, but perhaps from interest :-)

DailyEarring#109: Woolwinder (with gears, video inside)
by Schorhr

For some reason the link was posted two times in a row. Strangely the preview still worked. Fixed.

I will definitely try and print this out, though I may need to build a new nozzle to do it. Great work!

Thanks! Cool, let me know how it works out... Worst case would be to scale it up...

Though this one could be printed without much support (other then some of my other models which depend on the UP's fine support structure).

I would love to have some comparison of the small things with another printer.

If you have any idea how to improve upon the tiny gear to make it work better and keep the scale (and the tollerances) please let me know, I am inexperienced with gears (at least with the 90° transition). I think I mi
ght work on a continous string/belt design for the tiny thing, it might work better.

I am currently printing the parts to this and I cannot see where the drive cone or the drive cone tap guide are used? The blow-ups to not show them. Are they needed? :-[

Hello John,

The drive cone is on one of the exploded views but I admit it's not very clear where it goes, I have attached a picture with an arrow pointing directly towards the drive cone.

As for the drive cone tap guide, it is mearly a fixture to help you align the tap while threading the drive cone. I didn
't use it myself, and it's not a necessary so you can omit it if you like.

thanks! I am well on the way. Hit one more snag though. The Wool Spindlet is only 1 layer thick. with a .35mm print head, its very thin and in PLA its very flexible. Did you do anything in Skeinforge to make this part more solid? :-[

Hello John,

I also used a .35mm nozzle, I was able to get two thicknesses by using a .30 layer height and adjusting my Perimeter Width Over Thickness until I had two thicknesses. If that doesn't wok for you I can upload a new spindle that has a thicker section.

I did manage to get two layers now. I used fill with one extra shell and a ratio of 1.3 but the cone is still not quite stiff enough. My wife is an avid knitter and this is going to get some serious use. Can I take you up on the offer to thicken the design on the wool Spindle? This design rocks! everything is fitting really well. Thanks for posting it!

Hello John,

I uploaded an alternate version of the spindle that is twice as thick as the previous spindle. I'm glad to hear you like the design, make sure to take some pictures of the completed winder.

Its all in one piece. Picture soon to follow but I wanted to be sure the spring goes in the driven pulley between the two bearings? Also, what was the PTFE tubing for?

Hello John,

The spring actually goes inbetween the driven pulley and the drive cone, it helps force the spindle assembly into the drive cone. The PTFE tube goes into the hole at the top of the yarn guide, it gives the yarn a snag free path.

Neat! I may make one in wood.

Great design, love the simplicity and the reflective base! :)

Video looks like it could be an out-take from one of the Eames' shorts:


Someone needs to make a printable Solar Toy - the original do-nothing machine!

Thank You for the kind words, I am certainly no cinematographer. I remember those films when I was a kid, especially tops!

My mother had a commercial version when i was a child and the thing is strangely amusing to work with. I was reminded about it when I saw jvdh's yarn swift ( http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:13776 ) and mused if making one would work and if I could remember how it functioned.

Fortunately I don't have to now. You've gone and made it work.

Yarn swift
by jvdh

Video has been uploaded, a link is now in the description

Beautiful. I am tempted to print one for its beauty. Maybe wind wire on it or something.

This is a really excellent design!

Video is being uploaded to YouTube now, I have slow internet so it's taking a while.

Agreed I would love to see this in action. I love old timey things being brought into the future. :)