Introduction: Warping Board Which Can Measure Both Yards and Meters
A friend and I have been (slowly) experimenting with weaving, refurbishing an old 4 shaft table loom in the process. Weaving is one of those delightfully ancient skills like blacksmithing and sailing, filled with obscure speciality equipment and a toothy Germanic vocabulary. Learning about both has been a delight, particularly the equipment as I've had to make much of it myself.
One of the tools we needed was a warping board. This is used for measuring out the yarn and keeping it from becoming an impossible tangled mess in the process. Basically, you wind the yarn back and forth around pegs, making sure they cross over each other in just the right way so the order is easily maintained. It's one of those weird tools that seems kind of extraneous until you try getting by without it. Trust me, that will be a disaster! It's well worth your effort to make one. Or buy one, I suppose, but where is the fun in that?
I looked at some plans online, but they were all calibrated in a single unit, either yards or meters. I wanted to make a meter version, as I strongly prefer using metric. But I live in the US, and practically speaking it's very hard not to end up using imperial in projects. In the end, I decided to do both. It's a rectangular frame, after all. Why not make it 1 yard wide and 1 meter tall? Yes, you could just convert the lengths to your unit of choice ahead of time. I suppose. But again, where is the fun in that?
Step 1: Corner Plates
The design is pretty simple. I wanted it to be collapsible, for easy transportation. I knew it might be used just leaned up against the wall, thus the corners needed to be reinforced to prevent it from being all wobbly. And I didn't want to overlap the beams like some of the designs I had seen, purely on aesthetic grounds. All of this meant each corner would need a metal plate to bolt to.
I cut the corner plates from some 12 gauge steel I had lying around. (See attached image for dimensions.) This was done quick and rough with an angle grinder, as most of the edges wouldn't show in the end. Next the holes were drilled: 4 for the bolts, and 1 for mounting later. All 5 holes are 1/4" diameter.
I welded in short sections of rod into the bolt holes, then cut threads onto the ends with a die. I ground down the welds on the back, but that wasn't really needed since I ended up sticking on felt pads to protect the wall anyway. You could easily skip the welding entirely and instead use 1/4" bolts pushed through the holes -- I just like welding.
A quick coat of paint and the corner plates were done.
Step 2: Wood Beams
The wooden beams are made in two pairs -- one set for the meter side, one for the yard side. I used 1.5" x 3/4" stock for both. The yard pair is 36.75" long and the meter pair is 40.1". I cut mine a bit short, since I wanted to make sure they fit. I didn't mind a bit of a gap, as precision woodworking is not one of my skills. The ends are mitered at 45 degrees, and there are 2 1/4" holes at each end for the corner plate bolts. See the attached image for complete dimensions. The bolt holes are the same on both the yard and the meter beams, which allows the corner plates to be symmetrical and interchangeable.
Each beam has 8 pegs on it, though that's an arbitrary number. I just figured we might as well put a bunch on. Better too many than too few! Each peg is a 6" section of 3/4" dowel, with one end sanded down to form a nicely rounded edge. They are spaced apart by 4.25" on the yard beams and 4.75" on the meter beams.
When drilling the peg holes in the beam, I recommend using a Forstner bit, as that will leave a nice clean edge without any chipping. (You might be able to use a spade bit instead.) These also drill flat-bottomed holes, which will let the pegs seat better. If you're using a drill press, set the depth stop. This will make sure all the holes are all of equal depth, so the pegs will be the same length in the end. You can also mark the depth on the drill bit with some tape, if you aren't using a drill press. If all else fails, you could always drill all the way through with a twist drill, it just will be a bit messier on the back side.
Glue the pegs in using wood glue, and stain/paint/preserve the piece as you see fit.
Step 3: Assembly and Mounting
I used acorn nuts for the final assembly. These look nicer than normal nuts, and they have nice smooth surfaces. That's extra important on something like this -- you don't want the yarn snagging on exposed thread! Snug them down with a nut driver or a socket wrench. (Yes, a normal wrench will work, it will just be annoying with the pegs in the way. And scratching up the wood would be really easy.)
This warping board was designed to be mounted to a wall, using the holes in the gusset of each corner plate. If you do that, you'll need to use proper expanding dry wall anchors as appropriate, of course. It can also be used leaning up against the wall, or clamped to a table temporarily.
We mounted this one so that it measures out yards horizontally and meters vertically. You'll probably want whichever one you'll be using most to be horizontal, if mounting it permanently. (Vertical warping doesn't work quite as well, I've found.)
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