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Whipcord Bobbins

Posted by on June 15, 2016

Once upon a Pennsic I was walking down by the merchants and going back to camp using the walk by main gate. There were the usual children laying on the grass, plying their art, and enjoying the shade. Then there was woman standing with string on old-school laundry pins hanging from a tree and it was something I hadn’t seen before. Since I’m fascinated by all string things I went over and asked what she was doing. That was my introduction to Whipcording or Viking Whipcording.

It’s been a several years since then and I still play with little laundry pin bobbins and use them for youth activities but get easily frustrated when I’m trying to do it by myself. There just isn’t enough heft to those little bobbins to really get a good momentum going if you’re passing it between two people. I also feel like the little bobbins don’t put enough tension on the string but that’s just my opinion. So like any good crafty person I began to research. My internet digging turned up a couple of options but one was almost completely out of the question. I could either:

  1. Purchase them: The bobbins were available though some sellers on Etsy and the like but were in the 60-70$ range. *Not* an option for me.
  2. Make them: Far more realistic and I was able to buy the parts I needed off amazon for under 15$ . PERFECT! (I’ve linked to the products in the How-to below!)

My searching also brought me to Master Richard Wymarc’s page of artifacts. His class handout for making a set of bobbins (PDF Handout) was what I followed when I made my own and he was really specific with the parts list which helped a lot! There are a few discrepancies between his list and mine because I couldn’t find the exact items he called for so I had to do some substitutions such as a 2.5 in doll head instead of a 2.25 in head. I also didn’t want to use the drill since the kids were asleep so there’s no hole in the base of my candlestick. So here’s how I made mine with pictures.

Whipcord Bobbin How-To

whipcord bobbin

Completed whipcord bobbins seated in their cups and waiting for glue to set.


2.5 IN Wood Doll Head (x4)
1 IN Dowel Cap (x4)
3 IN Wood Candlestick (x4)
Toothpicks (beacuse I didn’t have a dowel that fit)
Wood Glue
Damp Paper Towel (To wipe fingers off and excess glue!)


whipcord bobbin

Dowel cap filled with broken toothpick pieces and glue.

1. Put a good layer of wood glue on the flat part of the doll head (large sphere) and then press the base of the candle stick on to the sphere. The glue should come out a bit. You want it to look like frosting on a cake. As a result a nice even line of glue should touch the top and bottom pieces to make a good seal. If it’s messy use a finger to smear it all the way around to create the seal. Wipe off any glue drips with the damp paper towel.

2. Sit it in a cup (I used a plastic shot cup leftover from some party) and wait for the glue to dry.

3. Measure the depth of the cup in the top end of the candlestick with a tooth pick. Mark 3/8 IN more than that and break the toothpick. See if the dowel cap will still sit solidly on top of the candlestick with no space between the two. (This may take some finessing so take your time.)

whipcord bobbin

Candlestick cup filled with glue with the dowel cap assembly ready to go in.

4. Break or cut more toothpicks until the hole of the dowel cap is full.

5. Pull the toothpicks out and put a large drop of glue in and put the toothpick segments back in. Squirt a bit more glue into the candlestick cup and insert the toothpick end of the dowel cap assembly into the candlestick cup.

6.The cap should be touching the rim of the candlestick cup and the glue should gush out a bit to adhere to both wooden pieces. I also smeared my finger along the join with additional glue to ensure the hold. Again, wipe up glue drips with the damp paper towel.

7. Let sit for 24 hours to let all the glue set.

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