Date Uploaded: September 18, 2011, 5:49 pm
Last Edited: November 27, 2012, 10:59 pm
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Advanced Power Winding
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I picked up a decent electric drill awhile back. It is a 5 amp, variable speed, reversible Mastercraft drill with a 1/2" keyed chuck. Any drill of similar nature will work with this setup. I recommend a keyed chuck, as with this style, you can tighten the mandrel in the drill better. The drill must be variable speed as well. You will need a workbench or some flat surface to mount the setup on. It has to be something that you don't mind putting a few holes in. I just used an old bookshelf.
Three different things need to be made for this setup: a mandrel holder, a drill holder, and a wire guide. You will need some wood to make the mandrel holder and the drill holder. As well you will need some hardware to put everything together. I used 3 1/2" wood screws to hold the mandrel holder together, and 5/16" carriage bolts and nuts to bolt things down. You will also need some good strong wire to make the wire guide (but I'm sure you already have that). The mandrel being used in this demonstration is 7/16".
The first thing you will need to do is bolt a piece of wood down to your workbench. All this piece of wood really does is elevate the mandrel holder, which you will be making shortly, as well as contain bolts which you will add that will hold the mandrel holder in place and allow it to be put in five different positions.
You have to make sure the bolt ends do not protrude out of the top of the piece of wood. I used 5/16" carriage bolts, and after drilling two 5/16" holes through the piece of wood and the bookshelf, I used a 3/4" drill bit to add a shallow larger hole to accommodate the bolt head.
Next, make a structure similar to the one shown below. This is called the mandrel holder. It is simply made with three pieces of wood; two screwed onto the ends of the one that will sit flat atop the board which is bolted to the workbench.
The total length of the mandrel holder will be based on the lengths of your mandrels. The ones I am going to be using are 18 inches long. You have to make sure the mandrel holder is a little shorter than the length of the mandrels you will be using so that part of the mandrel can go in the drill's chuck. You also want to avoid there being a chance of the other end of the mandrel slipping out during coiling.
The next thing to do is drill at least four holes through the piece of wood in the mandrel setup, and also through the piece of wood that you have already bolted to the workbench. You don't have to go through the workbench though, so you should take that board off the workbench and re-attach it afterwards. It is important that these holes are the same distance apart from each other. They also must line up properly. I made the holes on my setup 2.5 inches apart.
I messed up the first set of holes (they didn't line up properly), so I drilled another set of them. You have to put bolts through the piece of wood which was originally bolted to the workbench. These bolts are used to hold the mandrel holder.
You also have to make sure the bolt ends of these bolts are flush with the piece of wood and don't protrude, so you can bolt it back down to the workbench. Make sure they're in there snug too so there isn't much play.
Now bolt the piece of wood back down to the workbench. This is what the mandrel setup looks like when it is held in place by the bolts just added. It is adjustable to five different positions. The reason for this is so that you can have different sized holes in the two opposing boards to better accommodate mandrels of different sizes.
The setup is shown at its left-most position:
The setup is shown at its right-most position:
Now fashion a drill holder out of some wood. It will hold the drill in place while winding.
The drill will not be high enough with this device alone.
Cut some boards to length to use to elevate the drill.
Bolt the boards down to the work bench. Put it in place so that the drill chuck will be right up against the mandrel holder.
Now screw the drill holder to the boards.
Put the drill in the drill holder; it's chuck right against the mandrel holder. Use a pencil to draw a circle on the wood around where the end of the drill is. You are going to be drilling a hole through the mandrel holder where the mandrel will go through it.
Do the same for all five positions of the mandrel holder.
Take both end boards off the mandrel holder and draw lines though each of these circles so there is a cross at the exact center of each circle. Then drill holes in each of these five spots. I drilled 1/8", 1/4", 3/8", 1/2", and 5/8" holes. Make sure the boards are perfectly lined up and drill through both at the same time.
For the smaller three holes (1/8", 1/4", and 3/8"), you will need to drill a shallow 1/2" hole to accommodate the drill chuck which will protrude slightly when you have a smaller mandrel in it.
Now drill holes above each of these five holes through both boards. These holes should all be the same size. These holes will be used to hold the dowel which will accommodate the wire guide. I drilled 5/8" holes, because I will be using a 5/8" dowel for the wire guide.
Now you can re-attach the two end boards of the mandrel holder, as all the holes have finally been drilled (for this part).
Now you can put a mandrel through the mandrel holder and into the drill. You will have to pull the drill back a bit from the mandrel holder to tighten the mandrel with the key.
After you've tightened the mandrel into the drill, push the drill right up to the mandrel holder.
Now place a mark on the mandrel, fairly close to the board on the mandrel holder. This is where you are going to drill a hole through the mandrel itself.
Using a punch and hammer put a small divot where the mark is on the mandrel. This will help you drill the hole through the mandrel, as it will help keep the drill bit from slipping.
Now comes the worst part: drilling through steel. If you have, or have access to a drill press, this will make things much easier. If not, put the mandrel in a vice to hold it from rolling. It's best to start with a small drill bit and work your way up. I first drilled a 1/16" hole through the (7/16") mandrel, then used a 7/64" drill bit to make the hole the proper size. The size of hole to drill is slightly larger than the largest wire size you plan on winding on the mandrel. In this case, I drilled a 7/64" hole in my 7/16" mandrel to accommodate a maximum wire size of .109". It's also a good idea to use cutting oil when drilling so that the drill bit does not get too hot, and does not dull out as quickly. You have to drill a hole in each of the mandrels you plan on using with this setup.
After the hole is drilled in the mandrel, set everything up as shown. You will need to put your wire guide dowel through the holes above where the mandrel you're currently working with is.
The next step is to make a wire guide. This device will feed the wire onto the mandrel and make perfect coils, keeping your hands from getting close to the quickly spinning mandrel. Make it out of a piece of fairly strong wire. I used .080 stainless steel. Wrap it around the mandrel a few times first, and then around the wire guide dowel a few times. Then bend the metal back down and make an eye. The eye should line up with the hole in the mandrel when the wire guide is first set up to be used. If it is too far away from it, (i.e. too far to the left in this case), then you will get looser coils, which are not preferred. You will have to make a wire guide for each mandrel you plan on using with this setup.
Note: This wire guide is based on a design by one lordaaronj of The (now defunct) Chainmaille Board.
Feed your wire through the eye on the wire guide, then through the hole in the mandrel.
Now start winding with the drill. Start off slowly. If you're not careful, the wire will try to wind the wrong way, so try to avoid that by pulling the wire to the left a bit with your hand (keep your hand well away from the mandrel). Make sure the dowel holding the wire guide doesn't slip out, and while winding, keep the drill chuck against the mandrel holder to ensure the opposite end of the mandrel doesn't slip out either. I should note that I have the drill in reverse mode so that I end up with right-handed rings (more about ring orientation is mentioned later in the article).
Keep winding until you have a coil of good length (usually the whole length of the mandrel holder), then cut the small bit of wire where it goes in the hole on the mandrel.
Now you have a perfect coil. If your coil is not perfectly tight, you might have to adjust the wire guide a bit.
It is far easier to use this setup with wire on a spool. This way you can make a wire dispenser that will feed the wire consistently.
Feel free to modify this design to your own liking, or to your own benefit. If you only plan on using a few mandrel sizes, you can pretty much skip steps 4 - 7. Another option for making the mandrel holder positioning variable would be the use of a track of some kind, like those used for drawers and keyboard trays, e.g.
Make sure your drill holder doesn't cover up any vent holes on the drill.
Rings can be made in either of two orientations: right-handed or left-handed. I have set this operation up to create coils which yield right-handed rings. There are two options for changing this: 1. if you have a reversible drill, you can reverse it to change the way the coils will be wound, or 2. you can drill the hole in the mandrel on the opposite end and make your coils the opposite way. I use my drill in reverse mode, with the mandrel hole on the end where the drill is.
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