As a self taught spinner, one of the most daunting tasks was learning to construct a good drive band. I tried various materials and fastening methods before I was able to finally get it right. With this method, I am able to make a band that will last nearly a year. Considering I spin nearly every day, I think thatís a pretty long life. It only takes some very basic materials that most of us already have on hand.
There are varying schools of thought as far as what kind of cord should be used to construct a drive band. I like to use a plain cotton shipping cord. Nylon and other synthetics get a bit too much traction on the wheel and can cause excessive wear on the moving parts. They can also create tension issues with the maidens.
The other tools required are a sturdy needle, such as one for upholstery, and heavy button thread. A clothespin or Acco clip (one of the big black paper clips) can be helpful to hold the cord in place until it can be fastened. A thimble may also be needed depending upon your sewing experience.
To size the drive band, set the tension of the wheel to its lowest setting. Carefully wrap the shipping cord according to the correct configuration for your wheel. Pull it snug to overlap itself and clip it with the paper clip to hold it in place. Thread the needle with a double thickness of thread and knot it. Sew the band together by piercing both thicknesses of the cord, then wrapping once around the entire splice. Repeat this until you have a good half to three quarters of an inch of overlapping splice.
Next, cut the cord from the spool making a diagonal cut. Bind the cut ends into the band by wrapping them with the thread. Finish by passing the thread back through the cord, knot it, and pass it through again to bury the knot.
To smooth the splice even more, coat it with wax from either a beeswax bar for sewing, or even rubbing it with a candle will work. Once it is waxed, it doesnít need to be waxed again, as the wax bonds well with the cotton cord.
With these cotton drive bands, you will get some warning as to when they are in need of replacement. The most obvious sign will be that the tension needs to be increased on the wheel. Sometimes this means just a new splice joint, but usually it is easier to build a new band.