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Plans for small table loom

DennisS | Posted in Equipment and Supplies on

Greetings everyone:

I’ve been searching both the web and the archives here in Gatherings for plans to build a simple loom for my granddaughter. She’s just turned 10 and is enthusiastic about all sorts of craft things. I’ve located several sites that ~sell~ plans but was kinda hoping I could find something with just some pictures of the parts and pieces and a general idea of how they go together. I understand the process of weaving and basically how a loom works, just need to fill in a few details. I’m a reasonably competent woodworker so don’t need a kit of parts.

This would be a smallish, very basic two frame table loom. I’m not really clear on what’s meant by a “rigid heddle” loom vs …. whatever. Thus, I guess, is my quandry with respect to buying plans for a loom when I’m not really understanding what might be appropriate for this age group. I think I want to get beyond a simple frame loom and move to one that would permit weaving simple scarves and other narrow pieces of some length.

Thanks for any suggestions.

From Beautiful Skagit Co. Wa.


  1. sueb | | #1

    Hi Dennis

    A rigid heddle loom is a loom where the heddles are attached to a bar that is lifted up and pushed down in order to create a shed.   A jack loom has shafts attached to levers or treadles that lift the heddle bars up in order to create a shed.  There are also counterbalance and countermarche looms but there's no need to get into those types here.  A rigid heddle loom creates a shed with one thread up and one down so the only possible pattern to create is plain weave.  On a jack loom with 4 shafts the possibility of hundreds of more pattern weaves are created.  Has she taken any weaving classes at all?  You may want to check with your local weavers guild to see if there are any classes being offered or if someone is willing to give her private lessons on a rental loom.  My guess is that if she tries it and loves it, then she won't be happy for long with just a rigid heddle or two shaft loom and will want to at least have a 4 shaft table loom.   The handweavers guild of america is a good place to search for the local guilds in your area ( http://www.weavespindye.org/html/home.html)

    I've been weaving for quite some time now and my husband too is a accomplished woodworker who has offered to build me a second loom.  It's important to understand how much of the enjoyment and success of weaving is based upon having the right loom that works the way it should.  I'd really recommend that you try to get in touch with someone who has a loom that you can sit down at and really look at and perhaps take pictures and measurements of before you begin.  That said, ebay is a great source for used table looms.  I've purchased 6 of my table looms that I teach my classes with from ebay. 

    If you do decide to build a loom for her there will be certain items that you'll need to purchase such as heddles, reeds, warping board, shuttles, bobbins and a bobbin winder at the very least.  I recommend http://www.yarnbarn-ks.com or http://www.yarn.com as a resource for supplies.  I do a lot of business with both of them and my loom was actually purchased from http://www.yarn.com and they were extremely helpful.

    Good luck !




    1. DennisS | | #2

      Sue -Thanks so much for the reply.One of the reasons ... OK, I'll admit it, the *primary* reason I want to build a loom is because it looks like a fun project. I could easily buy a kit, or perhaps even a finished loom for less than the time and materials it will take me to build one. But how much fun is that!? (haha)OK, I understand the rigid heddle loom operation now ... thanks for the explanation. The only remaining question then is .... you create a shed by first pulling the heddle frame up, throw the shuttle, then push the heddle frame back down to make the 'opposite' shed and throw the shuttle back, then compact the two wefts .... correct?I think I might attempt a try at making heddles, actually. The reed for compacting the wefts might be a bigger challenge. The other programatic aspect of this project is to see how much of the total loom I can actually build from scratch. It's the challenge of it all.The heddles need only be big enough .. the holes for the warp yarn that is, big enough to facilitate threading the loom??I've read about and see warping boards but don't thoroughly understand how they're used. I gather one has to wind as much warp thread on the board, and in sufficient numbers for each of the anticipated warp threads that will be threaded on the loom.Indeed, there is a weaver's guild/association here in Mt. Vernon WA where I'm located. It's on my list to locate them and see if I can do excatly as you suggest. Doing is far better than reading.Thank you again for the informative reply. I hope I'm not being a burden with all the questions.

      1. sueb | | #3

        Hi Dennis

        you create a shed by first pulling the heddle frame up, throw the shuttle, then push the heddle frame back down to make the 'opposite' shed and throw the shuttle back, then compact the two wefts .... correct?

        - You'll want to beat the weft into position after each shuttle throw.

        For heddles you are correct - they have to be big enough for the yarns to pass through and all the eyes must be at the same level in order to facilitate a useable shed.  There are two types of heedles, texsolv (a polyester) and metal.  I've had looms with both and prefer the texsolv.

        the warping  board is easy enough to build.  basically a board with pegs spaced a yard across with the top and bottom pegs being spaced about 4 or 5 inches away from each other so that a cross can be made.  It's used to measure the warp threads, without one or something similar it will be difficult if not impossible to thread your loom.  The cross that is created will allow the weaver to determine the order of the threads.  There's some good information about calculating how much warp is needed, winding warps and threading the loom here: http://www.allfiberarts.com/cs/weaveinfo.htm   also Handwoven magazine is a good source especially for begining weavers - http://www.interweave.com  The absolute best book to buy and the one I recommend to all my students is Deborah Chandlers Learning to Weave - a must have resource for new weavers.

        Always happy to help bring a new weaver into the fold so ask as many questions as you like !



      2. Barbaran8 | | #4

        Hi Dennis-

        Next time you drive down to Seattle, go to the Weaving Works, it's near the University on Brooklyn in about the 50th block - there's quite a bit of weaving accessories that you can look at - and they may have some catalogs, and perhaps even some looms in back you could look at. 

  2. rjf | | #5

    I'm sure you know the "under and over" part of weaving.  In a rigid heddle loom,  one and only one heddle moves, the other stays put.  In the "other" kind of loom, both heddles move.  Try Halcyonyarn.com or Web's.  Their sites should have pictures...and of course, your library probably has books on weaving.  Be careful, you may be creating a monster; most weavers have an insatiable need for bigger and better looms.   rjf

  3. rjf | | #6

    I just found reference to some articles on weaving in older issues of Threads.  Check message 3671.4, Threads mags for sale.  I'm going to check my back issues and I'll let you know if there's anything good.      rjf

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