Contemporary Russian spindles are made of exotic or domestic hardwoods and can be custom designed to fit the preferences of the spinner (length, weight, features, and wood preference).
Generally, dense woods create heavier spindles. Dark woods are often denser than blonde woods.
Anatomy of the Russian Spindle. There are four main regions. The supporting point/tip (the end that rests in a bowl, or on a surface), next comes the neck, then the storage shaft, and finally the spindle terminates in the spinning tip.
Things to consider when choosing woods, shapes, and weights for American-Russian spindles –
What fibers do you intend to spin the most of with this specific spindle? The answer to this question will help you choose the most flexible weight for the fibers you intend to spin. If you wish to spin primarily downs (angora rabbit, goat, etc.), you would benefit from a lighter spindle in the weight range from .5-1 ounce. If you wish to spin fine wools and blends spindle weights from .7-1.3 ounces may be more appropriate. Also, a heavier spindle is sometimes desirable if you are just learning to spin supported, providing stability. Generally, darker woods are more dense (and thereby heavier) than blonde woods.
How portable would you like the spindle to be? A spindle with a shorter shaft (8 to 10 inches) will travel better in a purse or kit. Extremely narrow or fragile tips may snap off or poke through project bags or purses, so protection is recommended. Shorter shafts are also desirable for spindles that may be used on car trips or with limited space. If you plan to use the spindle primarily at home, then a longer shaft and a narrow tip will help you to maximize both the storage space on the shaft (how much yarn can be held on the spindle) and the energy expended to add rotation to the spindle.
Will you use this spindle for plying as well as spinning? Generally, plying spindles have both a longer shaft and a heavier weight.
Capacity is variable and depends on the spinner’s cop building abilities (which improves with experience) and the length of the storage shaft. Polling experienced supported spindle spinners revealed that 1 to 2 ounces is the average amount of fiber for a spindle with a 10-12 inch shaft . The capacity sometimes increases during plying and it is common to see full spindles with as much as 3 ounces of fiber.