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Bits of thread - some longish - have gotten wound around the axles on my vintage roller chair wheels in my sewing room.

Now there is a wad of string on each side of each wheel axle and it can't be removed. How can I remove the string?

  • Hi user29681, Welcome to Lifehacks. – Stan Oct 6 at 2:53
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    Can you post a picture? – Caius Jard Oct 6 at 17:22
  • @CaiusJard Oooh No, don't it'll be really gross if it's like others I've untangled. – Stan Oct 6 at 22:33
  • I never took you for the squeamish type Stan :) – Caius Jard Oct 11 at 2:26
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    @Chenmunka Why do you cling tenaciously to a regional spelling of a word? Either castor or caster refers to a wheel assembly. Why you do not use a more generic word dealing with the issue is puzzling. See: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/caster … In addition, both words also mean other unrelated things as some research shows. – Stan Oct 12 at 0:56
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Similar to Stan's answer, I would cut through it - but with a box cutter or razor blade. Just press the blade into any part of the tangle and slice across it. Then move to another spot and repeat. Pieces of string will start falling off. You might even be able to pull some lengths of string off with your fingers or pliers. I'd use pliers because they can grip really tightly.

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    Those are guy tools not sewing room tools. That's why I chose them. : ^) – Stan Oct 6 at 22:37
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    +1. Needle-nose pliers would be excellent for this. – Lefty Oct 7 at 6:29
  • Smart, @Stan! I just don't have a seam-ripper in my sewing kit, so I went with a tool I do have. – BrettFromLA Oct 7 at 13:31
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A seam-ripper can be used to penetrate the tight wrap and cut several layers of it at once. Push the point through the knot to cut through it. After this, there will be loose threads (and hair) to unwind. Repeated use will let you get the bulk of the stuff off each side of each wheel.
seam ripper
When you get down to the last few threads, you'll need sharp tweezers to get at those.

It's not much fun and slow going but it works.

Good luck.

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If they're the kind of wheels I'm imagining they may be all metal and if so will withstand the application of heat via some targeted gas flame like a small soldering torch. Once you've charred enough of the debris wrapping the wheel and burnt a section of it to ash the rest will fall out

Usual safety precautions apply; don't do this near your favorite bottle of 160 proof brandy etc

If torching it doesn't float your boat, investigate whether a fishing hook will pluck at the ball. You might also find some success in heating the curve of the hook then straightening it and using the barbed end to hook/pick at it

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    Since this is a vintage piece, I'd avoid using a flame. There's too much chance of leaving black marks on it. There's also the possibility of melting plastic bits into place, as well as flaming pieces falling out. And if there's flammable grease for lubrication, you've got a real problem. Also, the charred bits can stay in there, causing wear on bearings or other moving parts. Too many problems with the "flame" bit to be 100% safe. The fishing hook might work, though. – computercarguy Oct 10 at 22:56

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