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Make Your Own Bobbin Winder

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After getting my George in January, I asked a great number of questions about getting the tension just right.  A number of discussions addressed the deficiencies of the SideWinder bobbin winder.   Many warned me about the inconsistent thread quilting tension I could expect from using it.  For this reason, I went about ordering a bobbin winder along with my friend that had just gotten a Gammill Charm.  As she owns a business, we were going to get two bobbin winders at cost.  In the end, the winder order was held up.  During that time, I decide I could make the bobbin winders for each of us for no more than $40 each. 


Below I have provided a list all items needed, along with the costs of the supplies including sales tax, and the place I purchased them.  While the actual winder is long 12 inches, I but the wood to 15 inches to ensure it did not


Wood(red oak) Home Depot                             $  7.03  4.40/linear foot

            (item 719931220754)


Bobbin Winder                                                $  9.75

            (Cutex Sewing Supplies.com)


Motor (local sewing repair)                               $10.00


Thread Stand (local quilt store)                         $  8.63


Power Box(Home Depot)                                 $  2.76    3-hole ½ inch

            (item 042269650282)


Switch dimmer (Walmart)                                $  3.87(Lutron Qoto 600W single pole)


Switch Plate    Cover(Home Depot)                   $  0.30

            (item 078477461655)


Power Cord (Walmart)                                     $  3.54 (2 plug 15-feet long)


Screws/rubber grommet “spinner”                      $  3.05

            (Ace Hardware)


Corner brackets/motor mount (HD)                    $  1.42  (2.67 for four)

            (item 030699153046)


Rubber Feet (Home Depot)                                $  1.59

            (item 039003495650)


Total                                                               $51.94



I did go a little above my cost projection, but I am satisfied with the results, as is my friend. 


While the actual bobbin winder is 12 inches long, I chose to cut the wood 15 inches long, so the bobbin winder would not hang over the side edges if it needed adjustment.  I also spray painted all the parts so they would match the actual bobbin winder, as the motors were different colors.  If you spray paint the motors, be sure to stuff paper towels down into the cooling vents, so no over spray gets into the internal parts.  Remove all the paper towels prior to assembly.  You do not want to burn up the motors.


Both of the motors I purchased came with hubs for sewing machine belts.  I took the hub with me to Ace Hardware, and purchase a rubber grommet that fit over the hub and would not spin.  You can put a rubber grommet directly on the motor shaft, but the bobbin winder will spin slightly slower.   The larger size hub, allows the maximum motor speed to be transferred to the bobbin winder. 


Online, the Lutron switch stated is was motor rated, the actual packing material stated it was not.  I figure that the switch will be energized so little while motoring the bobbin winder it will not damage the switch or the motor.  If you do not want a speed control, you could use a normal ON/OFF switch that would lower the total cost about 3 dollars.  I wanted to be able to wind invisible thread slowly, so I went with the dimmer switch.  You could also go with poplar wood to lower the cost of the wood.


Here are some photos of the two final bobbin winders.  They work great.  The only problem I notice is the rubber stopper leave black marks on the flywheel.  You need to add a drop of oil to the flywheel shaft ever now and again, to keep it lubricated. 


On a final note, I e-mailed Bob Purcell (Thread Doctor) at Superior Threads concerning how to best wind bobbins.  His reply is below.

“Professionally wound bobbins are wound quite hard in order to get as much thread as possible on the bobbins.  Stretching isn't an issue for cotton (very little stretch) and quality polyester (slight stretch).  Nylon or cheap polyester could be a problem.  I recommend winding at the fastest speed that allows a smooth wind with a moderately tight tension setting.  Too much tension will cause breakage while winding.”


I hope this helps you know how to make your own bobbin winder, and how to wind your threads as needed. 







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First off, can anyone tell me why the topic posted twice?  I am not sure why this occurs sometimes, when starting a new thread.  I did not submit it twice.





As a dedicated Mac person, I have never had an issue with a printer.  PC, that may be a different story.  


With a bobbin winder, I am not sure what can go wrong.  It is not as if there are intermeshing systems that have to be just right for them to function properly.  Once you have the "full" setting, of the bobbin adjusted it will not change.  If the thread path back and forth on the bobbin is set, it should not change unless bumped.  


The only issue I had was operator error driven.  I was winding from bobbin to bobbin adjusting the "full" setting, when every now and then the bobbin I was winding from would get lifted up off the shaft and start spinning around on the table.  Now that the winder stops properly, it works great.  Having loaded around 30 bobbins between the two winders, I have not had a single issue.  


Have a great day.



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Great job.  I have four similar units.  I keep mine threaded all the time.  I cut the thread at cone after winding a bobbin, and tie off for the next bobbin, and pull the thread through so I don't have to worry about miss threading.  I also wind the thread through the front of the disks and around and over.  That insures that the thread will not pull out of the tension disks.


I wind one bobbin at a time.  I load the winder with the bobbin thread I plan to use, wind a bobbin, sew with it, and if I use it all, wind another.  I follow this practice 'til the quilt is finished.  That way I never have more than a partial bobbin of any given thread.  Keeps the number of bobbins I need to a minimum. ( probably 20 for each of my machines)  I do have an "M" system, so I don't have to refill as often as those of you with "L"s.  Again, good work.  Jim

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  • 2 years later...

My husband decided to take on the "make your own bobbin winder challenge" based on your valuable information.

Here's a couple pictures.  He used an old coffee grinder motor and a router variable speed control that he had laying around.  He made a motor housing cover (he wanted to work on his welding skills).  He also added an auto shut off by adding a micro-switch which gets depressed when the bobbin is moved to the fill position, and it pops off the power when the bobbin is in the full position.  And, he hard wired everything in so I wouldn't have cords going everywhere. 

Thanks for posting this topic.  I love my "new" bobbin winder.  It's super fast and winds really nice tight consistent bobbins.





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I love it, I love it.  You clever people.  Wish I were more mechanical inclined to make my own.

I have ideas a plenty but no way to put them to work without someone helping me.  Because I injured my hands awhile ago I had trouble rolling the backing unto the bottom roller.  I figured a way to attach a handle/crank to my roller but needed to do some welding, so... I got a friend to do the welding, Now I have no problem cranking that roller to keep my backing taut,  yeah....

Great job people.  When there is a will there is a way!!!!

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