Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Thread Spool Holder

Hey, it's Wednesday morning and I got up early so I could post before work, see I am trying to stick to my new posting schedule.

Anyway, this is sort of a weird post. I actually started writing it back in May when I initially had Fiance start this project. But in the choice between things he gets paid for with money and things he gets paid for with my gratitude, money tends to win, so sometimes making things for me takes a long time. Especially when I insist on photographing the process. So I wrote about half this post. Then in October, I wrote a little bit more. Then we moved and got busy, and on Valentine's Day Fiance finally finished my spool holder, because we were both sort of sick of the pieces just laying around. To be honest I didn't really have anywhere to put it until then anyway. So, the instructions aren't great, but I'm going to post what I had written, and show you the finished object and sorry that by the end there aren't any pictures. I put prices for the materials that I had to buy, so you can see that if you live with a woodworker this is a delightfully inexpensive project.

Here is what I had:

We interrupt your regularly scheduled fiber arts posts to bring you something slightly different. I got tired of digging through an unorganized pile of spools of thread and trying to remember while in the fabric store if I had the right color or not for a project so I enlisted my wonderfully talented Fiance to build me a thread holder. Today I'm going to share, roughly, how "we" (which here means he) made it.

3 1x2x96 Pine boards (about $9)
4 3/16" dowels (roughly $3.50)
finishing nails
wood glue
Self-leveling picture hangers ($1.49)
A tool which allows you to make miter cuts
tape measure
marking knife or pen

I wanted four angled "shelves" that would hold 15 spools each inside of a frame. Fiance and I laied out the spools in order to get our rough measurements.

We figured our dimensions inside of our frame would be about 26.5" long by 12.5" high. This allows 1.5" for each spool and .25" space between each spool with .25" on either end as well. The height was harder to figure out because I wanted angled shelves to make it easy to remove the thread, but hard for the thread to fall off. Our shelves were .75" thick and we needed to allow for the space that they took up as well.

One of the things that Fiance has taught me is that when you cut a piece of wood you end up losing some of the length (about the width of your blade), so you only mark one cut at a time. He used a marking knife so I don't have good pictures of him measuring. A marking knife is nifty because it doesn't leave ink behind, but a pen, pencil, or sharpie works just as well.

This is what he used to make his cuts. I'm honestly not sure what it is, but it allows him to easily make straight or angled cuts, like the hand tool version of a miter saw. (When I read this bit to Fiance he informed me that it was a miter saw, just not a power tool. Apparently they have the same name.)

Fiance does this professionally so he has all kinds of nifty tools. We live in a small basement apartment and don't have a garage so he uses all hand tools in order to be quieter (we are trying to pretend that the neighbors don't know that he uses our living room as a shop space. And yes, it would be easier without the carpets, but they help muffle the sound (that is also why they are sooooo ugly)).

Pictured above are the shelves right after he cut them. Our next step was to drill the holes that the dowel would fit into. Our first mark was 1" from the edge because half of 1.5" is .75" plus .25" for spacing equals 1". Each subsequent mark would be 1.75" away from each other to allow for the 1.5" spools and .25" of space in between them. It's a little hard to see the marks in the picture, I know.

Once all the holes are marked you need to drill them out. Fiance used a friend's drill press, but it can also be done with a drill and more time and concentration. I forgot to take pictures of the holes before I put the dowels in.

I cut the dowel into three-inch pieces and fit each piece into a hole. I didn't use glue, the holes were tight enough that the dowel isn't going anywhere. I actually used a piece of wood to help pound them in. I broke one of them, so Fiance will need to drill it back out at some point.

Then Fiance made the miter cuts.

The short sides are 12.5 inches on the inside and 14 on the outside, the long sides are 26.5 inches on the inside and 28 on the outside. Nothing is fastening together yet in this picture, but for the first time I was able to lay it out almost like it would be when done.

And this is the point when we catch up to real time, from this point on I don't have any pictures of the process.

Fiance used wood glue and clamps to fasten the sides to the top of the frame. Then he spaced the spool holders (I think he eyeballed it initially then measured to make sure they were all the same but I don't know what that measurement was). He used small finish nails to hold the spool holders to the sides of the frames so they were secure but the fastener barely shows then he glued the bottom of the frame in place. 

I nailed the alligator tooth style picture hangers to the corners of the top of the frame and I hung my spool holder yesterday. Eventually, I will paint it, but, for now, I'm just happy to be able to use it.

Here is it, hanging on my wall all full of thread and being awesome:

And here is my new craft corner in all of its glory. Fiance built me the sewing table shortly after we moved in. It is not super pretty, but it did cost less than $50 and it only took him an afternoon to build. I'm really happy with it because it's the first time I've ever had a dedicated table just for sewing. I'll probably paint the table legs white at the same time I paint the spool holder, but, for now, they are both functional and I'm feeling a couple of steps closer to organized.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Luke did a great job! The spool holder looks cool. But, what are those 6 "foot shaped" objects below it?

    1. The foot shaped objects are called sock blocks. A good friend of mine made them for me and I use them for taking pictures of the socks that I knit.