About my work

See a two minute video about the business here. (2016 video)

Browse my forum thread of user submitted spindle photos and comments on Ravelry.com (needs free sign-up if you are not a Ravelry member).

Read customer reviews on Etsy.com or see my Etsy sold items Gallery here


When you make a purchase from this business, you are investing in a precision-made tool backed up by many years of experience in fibre tool making, and designed to last for many years.

Our knowledge base is grounded in my personal experience, I originally trained as a cabinet maker and joiner. After learning the basics of woodwork at secondary school, I later worked in a firm making 17th C reproduction fine furniture in the UK. After that and obtaining a national gold medal in the City And Guilds trade qualification in Carpentry and Joinery, I started a joinery business in the UK in about 1978. In 1982 I started down the road of fibre tool making and woodturning, eventually specialising in fibre tools. In 2011 I launched my spinning spindles on Etsy.com and have made several thousand since. 

In late 2014 I decided to teach an apprentice, Jory Freyee, who worked part-time in the business for two years making spindles and other products under my tuition and guidance. 

The SpindleShop places great importance on the sustainable sourcing of wood, and avoids buying materials where the ethics of the wood harvesting are doubtful. Many rare species like ebony are now protected but corrupt practices in the countries of origin often mean that wood is taken illegally damaging the environment and the eco-systems that support local people. We do our best to get as much of our materials as we can in Australia from local and sustainable sources, or from overseas vendors who also harvest wood sustainably.

In many cases the woods we use have been acquired here in South East Queensland, sometimes from trees we cut ourselves or salvage from wind blown or other trees that have to be felled for safety reasons. I re-saw all our own pieces and condition and dry them in our own special dehumidifying drying and storage room. This gives me quality assurance in the materials I use. I support my work with a guarantee of satisfaction and replace items with manufacturing flaws on the rare occasions there is a problem.

I put a lot of effort into balancing our spindles so that they handle well and have longer reliable spin times. Un-balanced spindles waste energy and slow down more quickly.

I have developed special in-house methods of wood stabilisation to allow the use of challenging but very beautiful materials such as burls and spalted woods.

So when you buy a SpindleShop product, you are benefitting from many long years of specialised knowledge, and supporting the future of hand made crafts.

I feel sure that when you use these products, you will see and feel the difference. Please remember to leave feedback when possible, or feel free to contact me.

Malcolm 


Sustainability statement

These days, I am glad to say, we live in times of increasing environmental awareness. Since I first started working in wood professionally, in the early 1980s, many of the species that were commonly available and taken for granted as it were, have either stopped being commercially available or in some case have bans on their harvesting or sale. In some cases that extends to bans on taking items made of certain woods (and other natural materials) across national borders.

Slowly many in the woodworking community have realised that the world's great forests, especially the tropical and sub-tropical ones, have been cut down, cleared and burned, and converted into low grade agricultural land, at a terrifying rate. This also extends to old-growth temperate forests like those in the south of Australia, which have been and are being converted into woodchips for paper pulp with government subsidy.

So many woods which I used to work with and love for their amazing qualities are now almost impossible to get, or ridiculously expensive if they can be bought. I am thinking of rare and precious woods like Indian ebony, lignum vitae, kingwood etc. In some cases more environmentally aware governments have been trying to establish truly sustainable harvesting. This can take the form of replanting certain species in plantations (as in India with the production of plantation-grown Sonokeling rosewood) or the limiting of cutting to balance the rate of natural growth, leaving the rest of the forest. This second method is rare, but wherever possible I try and source my timbers from people who operate in this way.

One example of this approach is the Solomon Islands wood Tubi ("Queen Ebony") which is limited to a few small areas. Harvesting is currently limited to local people who walk into the forest, select a small number of trees, and convert them on the spot into pieces that can be carried out on foot. The rest of the smaller trees are left to mature. This of course is the most sustainable wood of all, if the process is properly carried out. It is similar to the sort of usage in Lake District woodlands in earlier centuries, where selected trees were felled with care and the trunks dragged out by horses with very little damage to the smaller growing trees or the ecosystem of the forest as a whole.

Where 30 years ago I would have gone to my local hardwood saw-miller and bought chunks of rare and precious woods without much thought as to the environmental impact of their being cut down, I now prioritise those considerations in my wood buying. I am using much more Australian wood these days, and all comes either from small operators who cut timber or burls sustainably, or larger businesses that have certification available for the sustainable management of the forests that produce their woods. Where possible I visit the business and talk to them about their views and policies in relation to sustainable production.

Another approach to these issues which I take is to use materials like Dymondwood, which takes sustainably grown hardwood veneers and converts them in a resin gluing process into a decorative and attractive, stable product.

Where I do offer woods that very rare for sale, these days it is because I have small amounts left of wood that I bought many years ago, or have researched the origin of the timber and am satisfied that the practices involved in bringing it to market are ethically sound (so far as I can assess it).