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Tensioned Lazy Kate DIY Project Plans

Tensioned Lazy Kate DIY Project Plans

This Lazy Kate is designed to be highly portable, which means it takes up very little space. That’s a boon in a tiny studio or a spinning bag. The parts are all easily removable and store neatly in a 12-inch (30 cm) bag. A gallon-sized (3 l) plastic bag would do the job nicely if you don’t want to make or buy a cloth bag for it.

You can customize this plan by making the steel rods longer or make the board a little larger to accommodate wider bobbins. You can also use a stainless steel rod to prevent any possibility for rusting, particularly if you live in a damp climate. I use steel in this project because it’s less expensive in my locale.

The hardest part of the project is threading the steel rods. If you don’t have a tap and die set or don’t want to thread your own rods, you can substitute threaded steel rod for the steel rod in the parts list. Threaded steel rod will potentially cause extra wear and tear where the threads come into contact with your bobbins. You can reduce this by adding a thin layer of electrical tape or other covering to the upper portion of the threaded rods where the bobbins will come into contact with the rod’s surface. Test this out with one of your bobbins first to ensure the bobbin will still spin freely on the rod once the tape is in place. Or, you can see if a local machine shop or mechanic’s garage may be able to thread the rods for you. Be sure to have them use a thread count that will fit your threaded nut inserts, commonly called bolt-threading, of 20 threads per inch or a pitch of 20.

You’ll need three drill bits for this project. The sizes will vary depending on the hardware you find at your local hardware store. If you have a complete drill bit set, match the drill bits to the threaded nut inserts, dowel or peg, and wooden coat hanger as you go. If you don’t have a drill bit set, ask the folks at your local hardware shop to help you find the correctly sized drill bits for each of those pieces when you’re buying your materials.

You’ll need one Allen wrench or a similar tool to twist the threaded nut inserts into the holes so they’re flush with the board’s surface for this project. If you don’t have a set of Allen wrench already, ask the folks at your local hardware shop to help you find the right size or a reasonable substitute that will fit the threaded nut inserts you choose when you’re buying your materials.

Approximate Project Time: 1 hour

Parts list

  • 1-1 inch (19 cm) plywood board at least 8 inches (20 cm) square or similar
  • 1-1/4 inch (approx. 6.5 mm) steel rod, at least 22 inches (56cm) in length
  • 4 Countersinking threaded nut inserts
  • 1-4  inch (10 cm) eye bolt
  • 1-2 inch (5 cm) wooden coat hanger with a tapered base
  • 1-1/4 inch (approx. 6.5 mm) dowel or similar peg

Tensioning parts

  • 30 lb. test leader line or similar fishing line, approximately 2 yds/m
  • 3-size 1 stainless steel ball bearing swivels
  • 3 rubberbands or small springs with appropriate connectors on either end


  • 1/4 inch-20 NC Die (1/4 inch rod, 20 threads per inch/pitch) and Die Stock or Similar Tap and Die tools
  • Metal file (for filing off burs from cutting your threads)
  • Table saw or similar
  • Drill press or drill
  • Drill bit set
  • Allen wrench for installing the threaded nut inserts
    Rulers, Measuring Tools
  • Pencil, marking tools
  • Sandpaper

Make the Lazy Kate Base


  1. Cut your board to the correct size (8 inch x 8 inch/19 cm x 19 cm) and choose the side you want to use as the top.
    Drill 1/4 inch (6.5 mm) holes in the top of the board at each of three corners. Set the holes 1.5 inches (7 cm) in from each edge and make them deep enough to allow the threaded nut insert to sink in completely, making it flush with the board’s top surface.
  2. Drill the final 1/4 inch (6.5 mm) hole in the top of the board at the center. Make the hole deep enough so the threaded nut insert will sink in completely, making it flush with the board’s top surface.
  3. Insert the counter sinking threaded nut inserts into the four holes you’ve drilled. Use the Allen wrench to tighten them, ensuring they’re flush with the board’s surface when you’re done.
  4. Drill a hole in the top of the board’s remaining corner set at approximately 1 inch (2.5 cm) from each edge. Make it deep enough that you’ll be able to insert the wooden coat hanger all the way. Ensure the hole is sized to accommodate the narrowest edge of the wooden coat hanger’s tapered base. This piece will help hold tension on your bobbins, so if the hole you drill is too big and the wooden coat hanger fits too loosely, it will be harder to get the consistent, reliable tension you want on the bobbins.
  5. Drill a second hole near the one you drilled for the wooden coat hanger. Set it at approximately 3.5 inches (9 cm) from one edge and 1.5 inches (4 cm) from the other edge. Make it approximately .5 inches (1.3 cm)deep and just wide enough to accommodate the 1/4 inch (6.5mm) dowel or peg. This is the other part of the tensioning system, but doesn’t require as tight a fit as does the wooden coat hanger.
  6. Set the board aside and cut your steel rod into 7-inch (18 cm) lengths.IMG_3581
  7. Use the die and die stock or tap and die set to thread one end of each so they screw into the threaded nut inserts. If you’re using a vice to hold the rod, be sure to sand or file down any nicks or burs left on it from the vice. Do your best to thread the rods so they’ll stand up straight when you’ve screwed them into the board’s threaded nut inserts. A little cant won’t prevent your bobbins from spinning easily, but a severe cant will. Test to see if your steel rods are straight enough by screwing them into the threaded nut insert on the base and putting one of your bobbins on as if you were going to use it. If the bobbin spins freely, your rod’s angle is good enough. If not, either cut a new length of steel rod and start again or find a few washers to place loosely between the board’s surface and your bobbin to raise the bobbin enough so that it’ll spin freely.
  8. Make your tensioning lines then assemble your Lazy Kate.

Make Your Tensioning Lines

IMG_3590You’ll make three tensioning lines, one for single bobbin use, one for double bobbin use, and one for three bobbin use.IMG_3595

  1. Tie an overhand knot in one end of the leader line to make a generous loop.
  2. Measure the length you’ll need by stringing the loop over the threaded dowel then running the line around one bobbin and back to the wooden coat hanger. Add an extra inch (2.5 cm) to that length before cutting it.
  3. Thread a ball bearing swivel onto the open end of the line.
  4. Tie an overhand knot so the swivel stays in the resulting loop.
  5. Attach a small rubber band to the end of the swivel.
  6. Repeat this process two more times going around two bobbins for one and three bobbins for the second so you have three lines

Assemble Your Lazy Kate


  1. Screw the three steel rods into the treaded nut inserts in the corners of the board.
  2. Screw the eye bolt into the remaining center threaded nut insert.
  3. Insert the wooden coat hanger into the larger remaining hole.
  4. Insert the dowel into the final hole.
  5. Slide one to three bobbins onto the steel rods.
  6. Wrap the appropriately sized tension line around the base of the bobbins, attaching one end to the dowel and the other to the wooden coat hanger. Adjust your tension by using a smaller or larger rubber band.
  7. Thread yarn from your bobbins through the eye bolt’s eye.
  8. You’re ready to ply.
This is an approximate conversion of the dimensions to metric.

This is an approximate conversion of the dimensions to metric.

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