Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tensioned Lazy Kate Plans

Hey all!  Last weekend I went to a fiber festival with "Tensioned Lazy Kate" on my list.  Let me clarify: I wanted a tensioned lazy kate that didn't cost fifty dollars.  None were to be had.  Why so expensive?

I poked around the interwebs to find DIY solutions to my problem.  I crafted a plan, and here it is for your benefit.

Disclaimer:  I am not a woodworker.  I do not have good tools.  I do not have skills.  This could be done with much more panache and skill with the right tools and skills.  Much wood was splintered in the making of this tutorial.

Step one:  buy some stuff.
1.  A piece of wood.  I got an 8"x11" oval made of oak.  It was on clearance for $6.  I could have gotten a cheaper piece of wood for $1.99, but the oak was heavier, and I thought that would help to anchor the kate better in use.
2.  Four 6" hex bolts and nuts.  I got 5/16" bolts, but I saw others on the webs use 1/4" bolts.  I purchased them at Home Depot and they were about $3.50.  If you use a hard enough wood, and don't plan on taking apart the pegs, you can skip the nuts.
3.  A little eye.  I already owned this.  It would probably be under $.25 if I had to buy it.
4.  A piece of linen or twine or cotton.  I already owned this, and I bet you do too.
5.  A wooden peg.  I could only find packages of six, it was $1.50.  If you live near me I'd be happy to sell you one of mine for a quarter.  Otherwise, you're out of luck, you'll probably have to buy more than you need too.  I got these at Hobby Lobby.
6.  One thing that's not in the picture:  a hair band or rubber band.  I already owned this, and if you don't, I'll send you one.
Total: $11.00 (If I can sell the extra pegs, it'll only be $9.75 :) )

Step two: figure out where you want the holes.

I used a piece of paper and my spindles to space things out.  The size and shape of your wood and what size your spindles are will affect where you want the posts to go.  I traced the wood on a piece of paper, and set the spindles where I wanted them; then I pushed the bolts through the center and pushed down to make a mark on the paper.  Then I used a similar technique to mark the wood with the paper.  I suppose you could skip the paper and just mark the wood, but I wanted to be sure everything was even and did a little measuring and adjusting once I marked the paper.

Step three: Drill some holes.

I am not a good driller, so I drilled some little pilot holes before drilling the big holes.  If you're worried about drilling all the way through the wood (and into your dining room table), you can put a rubber band around the drill bit at the depth you'd like to go.

For the four post holes, I first drilled deep holes slightly smaller than the bolts, or 5/16".  Then I drilled shallow holes as big as the nuts (if you didn't get nuts, don't drill a hole for them).  See?
This allowed for inserting the nuts flush, as well as leaving room for the bolts to go deeper.

Step four:  Pound in the nuts.

Next I used a hammer to insert the nuts.  I screwed them onto the bolts to use them as a "handle" to make it easier to get the nuts started into the wood, then I unscrewed the bolts and pounded the nuts in to be level with the face of the wood.
Here you can see a bolt/nut partly pounded in, two empty holes, and one nut that has been pounded in completely.
Once all of the nuts were inserted, I used a wrench to screw in the bolts all the way down through the deepest part of the holes.  Naturally, if you didn't choose to use the nuts, just screw in the bolts.

Step five: drill more holes.

The next set of holes to drill I put between the two front posts.  One was a small hole for the eye, and the other I drilled slightly smaller than the peg.  Again, you can put these wherever you want, but be sure to leave room for your bobbins.

Once you screw in the eye, attach the rubber band or hair band, and tie the string to it.
 In order to make the peg fit tightly, I drilled the hole slightly smaller, and sanded the peg down to fit.  It was taking quite a bit of sanding, so I used the drill again, moving it around a little bit to widen the hole.

See?  It fits now!  The string goes from the eye to the rubber band, around the spindles, and to the peg.  I can use as many or as few spindles as I want by adjusting how much string is wrapped around the peg.

Step six: finish the posts

After I was sure everything would go together right, I removed the bolts and used a hacksaw to remove the hex bolt heads, and sandpaper to smooth the edges.  You could choose to leave them on, and they'd hold the bobbins on.  But I don't actually plan on taking it apart that often, so I removed them so that I can take the bobbins on and off easily.  If you opted for the nut-free version, you'll have to remove the heads.

The majority of the assembly took well under an hour.  The most time was taken sanding the peg, and sawing the heads off the bolts.  Both of these could have gone faster (and better) with better tools, like a dremel tool or the like.

I may in the future add a guide for the yarns coming off the kate; I'll put it in front of and between the eye and the peg, and probably use a large hook or eye.

And here it is in my spinning corner ready to ply something!


hybridgirl said...

You did a marvelous job on the lazy kate. I now want to make one. I'm not clear on what the rubber band does. Does it just make a loop on the eye hook so the twine can be attached?

I'm heading to Lowe's tonight to look at carpet. I'll have to check out items to make a lazy kate too.

Becky a/k/a hybridgirl on Ravelry

Beth said...

Thanks! I'm glad you like it. The rubber band is to provide the tension. The string goes around the bobbins, and with the rubber band you can make it tighter or looser more easily. It's a lot like the spring or elastic band on the brake band of a lot of spinning wheels. I don't know if I'm describing it well; if not, I think once you have it together you'll see how it works.

TJacobson said...

I was just starting to look around the web to find a tensioned kate when I stumbled on your DIY plans. Thank you so much! I think I have about the same skill level you do (and I have a Dremel, but I don't have a hacksaw), so I think I might be able to do it!

Stephanie said...

This is Awesome! I'm heading out to Home Depot after the Hubs gets home from work to get the parts to make one of these.

I hate it when the un-tensioned bobbins back spin as I'm trying to Ply! You Have saved my family from hearing naughty words mumbled under my breath!

Anonymous said...

Do you think that if I put a tension string around the spindles on a reg lazy kate with a rubber band it would work?

Beth said...

I don't know. I feel like the string and rubber band need to be anchored to something other than the bobbins in order to work against the spin. If you have a way to tie it down, then it's no different than this setup. If the string and rubber band just go around the bobbins, I think it would spin when they do.

Unknown said...

Okay can someone explain to me how exactly the string even works for making tension? It looks like the bobbins just go on top of the string so I don't get how it helps?

Beth said...

The string goes around the bobbins, not below. Usually the bobbins have a groove and the string runs there.