Binding spools

Quilt binding spools – finished

Spool profiles and slots

Spool profiles and slots

Starting pieces of wood

Three basic shapes, A, B and 2 Cs

Half profiles show the shapes of each spool

Half profiles for Her and for Him

Quilt Binding Spools HOW TO… Woodwork and Woodturning project for beginners
Hold binding in a decorative and easy to dispense way.

Download instructions as a Quilt binding him and her spools pdf file, ready to print.   OR …. read on!

Grow your own oak tree. (Optional) Cut off a branch leaving some of the bark on.
This is a great project for woodwork offcuts.
You need:
1 piece oak A 19mm x 80mm x 160mm (for the base)
1 piece oak B 42mm x 42mm x 250mm (for woodturning the spool figures)
2 pieces C 6mm dowel 60mm (or make your own)
A woodturning lathe with drive centres, 3 or 4 jaw chuck, roughing gouge, spindle gouge, parting tools (1 bought, 1 made from a hacksaw blade), skew chisel,
Tennon/back saw, vice, callipers, pencil, sandpaper (various grades)
Plane, router (optional)
Melamine lacquer/varnish, liquid beeswax, acrylic paint to decorate

Make a base 19mm x 80mm x 160mm using woodworking skills
Drill two 6mm diameter holes about 80mm apart, 40mm centre from each edge.
Cut 2 pieces of 6mm dowel, 60mm long, rounded at one end. Dry fit the dowels in the holes, rounded end up.

Cut 42mm square 250mm long piece if oak.
Mark the spindle centres.
Drill 8mm holes from each end, 50mm deep.

Woodturning: Turn the spindle to 36mm diameter between centres. Transfer to a 3 or 4 jaw chuck to hold the spindle securely. In pencil, mark circles as follows from the tailstock end.
Use the ½ profiles as a guide.
0mm where feet start as close as you can to the tailstock.
7mm for Her feet, (total 7mm)
52mm cotton reel spool body (total 59mm).
7mm shoulders (total 66mm)
25mm head (total 91mm)
7mm bun (total 98mm)
3mm top bun (total 102mm)

Marked from the opposite end
7mm for His feet, (total 7mm)
52mm cotton reel spool body (total 59mm).
7mm shoulders (total 66mm)
22mm head (total 88mm)
4mm brim (total 92mm)
10mm hat (total 102mm)

Leaves several centimetres extra in the middle for parting or to allow chucking at each end.

Cut slots 30mm up from each end, 3mm wide.
Binding is often 25mm so slots need to be longer than this.

Turn to the diameters shown on the half profile. Woodturning instructions are often just the profile drawings. Round the feet bead and the shoulder bead, Use the parting tool to narrow the spool body diameter to 22mm. Smooth with a spindle gouge.
A narrow parting tool made from a broad hacksaw blade makes the best type of tool to cut into the neck. You could use a skew chisel – carefully. Use a skew chisel to smooth the shoulders, bottom and top of the head. Do not part off her. Leave 6mm at the top bun, minimum. Sand and lacquer as much as you can.

Turn the spindle around. Turn him, starting at the feet and shoulders in the same way. Use the callipers to get smooth, nearly identical spools. If your characters are a little different – few will take out a micrometer to check, so this makes a great beginners project. Use the parting tool to create the brim and hat diameters. Use the parting tool after his hat to narrow to 6mm. Sand and lacquer what you can.

For safety, saw the spindle beyond the hat and after the bun. Sand and lacquer the ends.

Plane and sand the base. Treat liberally with melamine lacquer especially the bark. Paint the characters heads and faces, never the body which will be in contact with fabric. Give a final lacquer and wax all over.

Thread binding only 1/2 way into the slots and wind onto the spool. If the binding crosses the hole, it will not sit on the dowel pins. Repeat for the 2nd character. Place in front of your sewing machine and the binding slowly unwinds to edge your quilt or sewing project. The dowels are 60mm. The base is 19mm so dowels should project into each character 41mm. The holes you drilled into each character were 50mm x 8mm so should spin easily on 6mm dowelling. The characters feet should easily touch the base without the dowelling fouling inside the character. Wobbling will happen if the feet are not perfectly flat. A little extra sanding on a flat surface then re-lacquering should solve your problem.

A few steps more. We were inspired by an oriental female spool figure found on the internet without dimensions. You could try offcentre turning his hat or her bun at a jaunty angle. We created a complete ‘oscars’ statuette with offcentre turning, so binding could form a skirt and over-the-shoulder draped gown. You could have a base with several characters, eg Snow White and the 7 dwarfs, Cinderella and two fat sisters storing oodles of binding… Use your imagination and creativity!

Happy woodwork. Happy sewing.