here's a couple tools I made to make it easier to wind coils with a drill (variable speed or not). they can also be used to wind coils by hand. Either way they'll help keep your hands in the right number of pieces....
Here's da plans....
This one I made from wood scrap wood. ya just drill a hole for the mandril to fit in and pound a nail almost all the way in a little ways to one side of it. the nail will guide the wire so your fingers don't have to (really sucks getting a finger caught between some 14ga and a manril but I'm sure you've all found that out by now). I decided to get kinda fancy with my last one and pounded a section of copper pipe into the hole for the mandril so the spinning metal rod would not make the hole bigger, also used a really hefty screw instead of a nail. I use this one for making springs of 14ga 3/8ID, 16ga 3/8-1/4ID, and 18ga 1/4ID. to use it you just stick the end of the wire (16ga with a 5/16" mandril or smaller should work for holding the end of the wire like this) into the space between the mandril and the little grabber teeth in the chuk and bend it over, then slide the "tool" down so the head of the nail is hooked over the wire. Hold firmly onto the "tool" and pull the trigger of the drill slowly at first untill ya get use to it. at first you might get a few times when the wire winds back over it's self but that'll go away with practice.
This one takes more speacialized tools to make. Its the one that looks like the cap of a plastic bic pen with a handle. I this one made for the smaller link sizes I use for jewelry. Its simply a section of steel rod with a hole drilled down the center, a chunk of metal that sticks out to hole the wire against the mandril, and a metal rod for handle, all welded together. THe mandril that this one goes with is 1/8" and is operated by hand. This one could also work with a drill. to use this one I slide the "tool" down the mandil to the end with the krank, then I put the end of the wire into a slot at the end of the mandril and slide the tool up and start winding the wire towards the end with the krank.
Both these methods of coiling springs allows for the wire to be slid of the madril with out the need to cut it away from the mandril. I've also found out that its bad to coil alluminum with these tools, the hard metal part that holds down the wire leaves lots of nasty burs on the coil. Besides, it don't hurt that much when your holding the wire down by hand and a finger gets sucked into the coil, least not if you have gloves on...at least not with 16 gauge aluminum.
Oh yeah, don't let the wire slip out from under the nail or whatever you have holding it against the
mandril. bad things can happen.