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Stephen's Coil Winder
Article © MAIL User: Stephen

Stephens’s human powered maille coiler.

Well, it's only human powered because I haven’t figured out how to get the dog to power it.

I had used a variable speed drill for all my worms. Since I used Welding Rod for a lot of my mail this worked well, but when I attempted to use wire off of a coil, the system broke down.

I was asked by a friend to make a maile coiler for his use, and this started me on a hand powered coiler quest.

Design 1
What I created that first evening was a simple crank. This can be made most easily, and I have seen this design on the internet.
Image: crank1.jpg

This is a straightforward design and very simple to make. I think the cost was around $6 U.S. The bronze bushings were almost $2 each. The rod was $1.50. The board I had in scrap, and it had two major flaws.

#1- You have to clip the wire that goes into the hole before you can slide the worm off.

#2- The mandrel has to be slid out of one hole each time a worm needs to be removed.

Design 2
Image: crank2.jpg
We can make this better at no extra cost!
Right, we move the second support closer. Be sure to add that fourth board to the back of the uprights. This design really needs the support. I placed the uprights about 8 inches apart. This will keep the mandrel from flexing very much. I was amazed at how little flexing there was, even from a ¼ inch mandrel.

“But what about Flaw #1 you mentioned?” I can hear you ask. That had me stumped as well. Then I read “Reginald's Hand Coiler for chain maille links” article. What a stunning idea! Saw a slot in the end of the eandrel. So simple, so reliable, that I just had to steal it. (I really, really hope you don’t mind, Reginald!)

Ok, This works better now. The major flaws are fixed. I have one more complaint. I don’t want to wear a leather glove while I work. So...:

Design 3
Image: crank-side.jpg

Of course you have noticed the extra structure I added on. On top of these extra boards is a 16 ga steel plate. (I had it lying around the shop. It doesn’t need to be that heavy).
Image: crank-top.jpg

The plate is placed with a wire width of space between itself and the mandrel. If it's placed a little closer it will be a wee bit more difficult to remove the worm when you are done. That’s all. The tension between the plate and mandrel will create nice, even worm without ever putting a finger on the wire. The hardest part is getting the first turn of the wire on the slot at the end of the mandrel. Even that is not difficult.

And finally, A close up of the bushing and clip to keep the mandrel in place. You need two of these.
Image: crank-bushing.jpg

I’m including a drawing of a smaller sized crank that I have been working on.
Image: crank3.jpg
After making several different cranks, I found that I was only using my fingertips to move the crank. This led me to reduce the size of the crank to a 2 inch length. A shorter crank means less arm action to turn one ring. And lastly, by limiting the size of the mandrel, I can make two 18 inch cranks from one 3 foot rod.

Final thoughts
A variable speed drill on this setup works VERY well. Of course, leave the rod straight, with no crank on it.

I have never caught my fingers or been whipped by the wire with this design, and the doubled over wire mistakes have been simply due to my own inattention.

Let me know if you make one. And how it turns out. I would like to hear any feedback. In the words of Red Green, “I’m pulling for you, We’re all in this together!”

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