Oil That Spinning Wheel

The week before Christmas I went to Jillian’s house to spin with some friends I hadn’t seen in a long time. We were all spinning along and soon Jillian stated to struggle with her wheel. I don’t remember exactly what was happening (something about noise I think) but I do remember saying to her, quietly, in my most respectful voice, “oil it”. She said back to me in that way that she does, “I just oiled it!” I smiled at her.

She struggled for a few more minutes and then got out the oil bottle and oiled the appropriate spots. I tried to look natural and not gloaty as her problem was fixed. just a few small drops of oil and 30 seconds.

I’m not saying that oil fixes everything but it is definitely my first step when things begin to go down hill.

This same scenario happens often in classes while I’m teaching. Some people didn’t even realize they needed to oil their spinning wheel at all ever. Then 3 or 4 drops later the whole experience changes for them.


This is where it can get tricky because it depends on your wheel but I will say this. Every bobbin shaft needs to be oiled. I just put a drop of oil at each end of the bobbin if the bobbin is already on. If I’m changing the bobbin, I wipe the shaft clean and add a thin line of oil along the shaft before I put the bobbin on.

Also a drop of oil where the orifice goes through the front maiden and a drop where the bobbin shaft fits into the rear maiden.


If you have a wheel with sealed bearings then the wheel hub doesn’t need oil. If it doesn’t then a bit of oil there periodically helps.

Also, once in a while I put a drop of oil where the footmen attach to the crank.


How Often?

I oil 4 places on the mother of all on my wheel about once every hour to hour and a half of spinning and always right at the beginning of spinning even if the last time was only 15 minutes.

The rest of the places I oil about once per week or so. Sometimes more if I’m spinning a lot – like more than 20 hours in a week.

What to Use

I have two favorites. 30 weight motor oil which is what many wheel manufacturers recommend is the one that is most available. Gun oil is also great to use.

What not to use is sewing machine oil, or 3 in 1 oil. These are too thin, they break down faster resulting in having to oil more frequently. They also aren;t made for the amount of friction you get with a spinning wheel.

Also, I don’t recommend vaseline. It’s super thick and goopy and attracts dirt. The dirt that gets in there is gritty and will break down your spinning wheel parts more quickly.


Oil because it will help your wheel to last longer and wear better. You wouldn’t drive your car without oil. The oil in your car is there to lubricate all of the parts that are moving against each other. The same with oiling your wheel. There is a lot of friction and sometimes a little heat happens if it isn’t well lubricated.

If you aren’t sure about where to oil your particular wheel, most modern wheels wheels have a manual which you can probably find on line. If it is an older or antique wheel you can feel comfortable just putting oil anywhere there is a moving part.

I promise, you’ll thank me.


10 replies
  1. Dorothea Pierce
    Dorothea Pierce says:

    Ah Beth! Thank you, thank you! My mantra is “Be mindful, have fun, and oil often.” If I had a dime for every time I have politely suggested it to a new or not so new spinner I could buy a new wheel. Or two! One thing I have been meaning to add to my spinning bag is a cloth in a ziplock to use for wiping off oil when I change bobbins. I always mean to have one but then I get busy and forget or get to involved to get it organized! I will do that TODAY! Thank you so much for the reminder!!! I promise – I listened!!

  2. Jill Shepherd
    Jill Shepherd says:

    Great article Beth, I shall be slapping a link to it for my lovely spinners post-haste. It proves that at least two of us are right! I usually take if not quite a gallon of oil, at least a full bottle when I go to teach a spinning classes here in Britain. It makes such a difference. I thought it was just a British problem until I started to teach in Europe and the USA.

    If it involves moving things, oil it! A wheel with oil smears is a well-tempered wheel in my view; it’s a working tool, not a piece of furniture. I occasionally degrease the gunk with a drop of lemon juice and then recommence the process because I have a custom-built wheel that has a metal on metal orifice/maiden interface and that gets really filthy, well beyond a wipe-down.

  3. Stella
    Stella says:

    Yes! And a question, I’ve just returned to cycling after a long hiatus, and I’ve discovered new to me products like chain lube – and wondering if that would be a useful addition to a spinning wheel tool kit. Any thoughts?

    • Sara Buse
      Sara Buse says:

      I like white or amber lithium grease at the bobbin ends and PTFE on price bearing and cranks. Always good to check a manual if you have one. Hansen says don’t oil shaft but use lithium on bobbin ends for example. Thanks Beth!

  4. Katherine
    Katherine says:

    I have an old Russian (Doukhobor) spinning wheel. It hasn’t been used in FOREVER. I feel like it is very stiff, but I noticed that where it has been oiled in the past, its gummy. My husband thinks it is grease, but I’m fairly certain that it is oil with bits of fluff and dust mixed together.

    Should I wipe the surfaces before applying new oil?

    • Beth Smith
      Beth Smith says:

      Absolutely wipe everything down and oil it all well. You might need to do that a couple of times to get it all moving smoothly again.

  5. Eia
    Eia says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with us! I am a newbie and am trying to learn. I have a Kromski that has leather ties and I was wondering if the gun oil and 30 weight would be good to use on those parts also?
    Ply fan,

    • Beth Smith
      Beth Smith says:

      I use those oils on all the parts including the leather. Some manufacturers will recommend carnuba wax or another lubricant but I haven’t had any ill affects on my Schacht Reeves that I’ve had for nearly 10 years.


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