It's easy to get into the spinning groove and lose track of time, we all know that! It's also easy to forget that your wheel is working very hard with you to make sure your skeins come out exactly as planned. Some issues you might run into are a result of poor wheel maintenance. I'm not here to pass judgement as I am guilty of this myself. Spinning wheels are a big investment and you really want to keep them working their best so you can count on them for years to come. I am going to go over the steps needed for good wheel care.
Before you get started, you will want to make sure you have the following items:
- Spinning wheel oil
- Microfibre cloth
- Allen wrench/screw driver
- Cotton string
- Paper towels
- Wood polish or oil
Check your wheel for areas that have a lot of grease, dirt, dust and gunk. You will find that the areas with moving parts have the highest concentration of these substances.
Remove your flyer and bobbin and clean/dust all the spots where you normally add oil.
Don't forget the footman assembly. Use paper towel to clean these metal parts.
Use a q-tip to clean out smaller spots like the orifice and the area on the front maiden.
This is also a good time to replace a worn brake band or drive band. You can use cotton string (not mercerized) as an inexpensive alternative.
If you have any leather parts like footman connectors or orifice bearings, soften them with a leather conditioner or Vaseline.
Re-shape and re-screw any hooks that need an adjustment.
Tighten all screws to keep wobbly joints in place and replace any that are stripped. Your footman connectors may also have loose screws. Use an Allen wrench if necessary. I keep this and a little multi-tool in my spinning wheel bag so they are handy when I need them.
To keep your wood looking nice, polish it up every once in a while using wax or a wood preserver, working in the direction of the grain. You can also buff your wheel with lemon essential oil which smells really good! Keep natural and stay away from using products like Pledge on your wheel because it can make the groove in the drive wheel too slippery and your drive band will slip. Don't wax whorls or bobbins for this same reason.
Once you have everything all cleaned up, re-oil all the parts that move and cause friction and also where wood meets metal. There are a lot of oils on the market but I recommend liquid oils because they won't create instant gunk. I use mineral oil because it's inexpensive, it won't harm the wood and if you have small kids that might get into it, it's non hazardous.
All of these steps are easy to do and hardly time consuming, and they really keep your wheel running smoothly. You should try to remember to oil your wheel at least every time you sit down to spin and keep your wheel out of direct sunlight and humid/moist areas. Dust it every now and then and keep an eye on it around pets (our basset hound Jenny chewed part of the base of my wheel when I wasn't paying attention!) If you treat your wheel nicely it will bring you years of great service.