View Full Version : DIY ball winder

02-28-2008, 02:43 PM
wooden dowel or knitting needle #10 or smaller
masking tape

Tape the yarn along the dowel in two places. Start the drill slowly, using the other hand to control the tension as it winds. As it builds, start moving your tensioning hand back and forth quickly so it wraps somewhat diagonally. Wind in between the tape (not over it) so you can remove it when you're done. This makes a center-pull ball. After winding, just pull the yarn right through the tape and slide the ball off the dowel.

Masking tape will release easily. Other tapes will work fine, but might be harder to peel off. The tape is only there for long enough to get things started and keep the loose end away from the drill.

Form the ball as close to the drill as you reasonably can (without winding over the tape). The closer it is, the better balance it will have while winding. The ball is messier than one made on a regular winder, but it works. I'm going to do the last few layers by hand, just to neaten up the outside.

I have a vise that isn't set up yet. Ideally, I would mount the drill in a vise to keep it steadier than it is in my hand.

A #10 needle fits my drill perfectly. I tried a #11 but the taper was too long and the chuck couldn't tighten properly. A pencil should work too, if it's not too short. Anything long, skinny & round.

Next....I want to see if I can hack another ball winder using my sewing machine's bobbin winder mechanism, lol. The foot control would allow me to use both hands to control the winding.

02-28-2008, 02:57 PM
Smart Cookie!!! :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

The tension discs on your sewing machine should work good, just loosen them enough to accept the yarn without binding it.

Industrial Sewing Machines actually have a separate bobbin winder, if you can get your hands on these, they are fantastic! We use one in the shop for winding fishing reels. Mary

02-29-2008, 02:04 PM
You are a genius!!! I knew there had to be a reason to buy an electric drill! Maybe I'll get one for Mother's Day :roflhard:
I just saw in JoAnn's the other day a battery (I think) powered bobbin winder that just winds bobbins. It wasn't priced so I don't know the cost but it might be worth looking into!

02-29-2008, 03:28 PM
Lelvsdgs --- Thanks :)

A cheap electric drill costs just a little more than a ball winder, but they're waaaaay more useful. I've used mine to make cording. I put a hook-shaped piece of wire (coat hanger again!!!) in the chuck and go to town.

I wonder if a battery bobbin winder would have enough juice and torque to wind a ball of yarn. A bobbin and thread weight almost nothing; a ball of yarn can weigh quite a bit more. But you could try it, if it doesn't work out you could probably return it.

04-21-2008, 12:58 PM
i tried this with my dremel, i cant seem to get it to shape a ball per se, i get little hourglass shaped skeins, that seem to fall apart at the ends, and are very tight in the center. any suggestions would be greatly appreciated...

04-21-2008, 01:05 PM
That's brilliant!! I have a drill, why buy a winder?

DH is going to laugh his butt off, but then, he never uses the drill for anything, it's mine. This is such a great idea, especially as I've three skeins that need to be wound.

Have any good ideas for a swift?

05-15-2008, 04:32 AM
Have any good ideas for a swift?

Sorry that this is a late reply. I posted a swift here at KH. (http://www.knittinghelp.com/forum/showthread.php?p=1071317#post1071317) I also put together detailed directions over at Instructables.com. (http://www.instructables.com/id/Duct-Tape-Yarn-Swift/)

i tried this with my dremel, i cant seem to get it to shape a ball per se, i get little hourglass shaped skeins, that seem to fall apart at the ends, and are very tight in the center. any suggestions would be greatly appreciated...

I have a Dremel too. Dremels work by taking lots and lots of little "bites" out of something at a very high rate of speed, even the ones that have variable speed. Regular drills work more on the power of their torque; they spin slower but have more "muscle" behind the spin. That's why a drill can force screws into solid wood if you're building a deck, but Dremels can't.

My guess is a Dremel spins too fast to allow you the control you need to form the ball as it winds, even at the slowest speed (if it has one).

Sorry if I sound like a know-it-all. MY ex was a big do-it-yourselfer, and for many years I gophered/helped during all sorts of home repair and car maintenance projects. I learned all sorts of useful stuff about tools and gadgets and traditionally-male subjects.

05-15-2008, 06:08 AM
I laughed when I saw your photos:teehee: Great idea! So inventive!

05-15-2008, 09:19 AM
You are way too clever! Way to go on making both of those. Do you have any other inventions? I don't know if the DBF would like if I stole the drill to make a bill winder!