Introduction: Thread Guide/Warp Comb

About: I like to make things, like everyone else here.

Last week I was browsing around on Craigslist and I came across an ad for two spinning wheels that someone was selling. I called and found out when to meet the person but sadly, the spinning wheels were already gone when I got there. Miscommunication sucks.

The wheels were gone but they still had two looms sitting there, begging to be cleaned up and used again. I guess all these fiber art tools used to belong to their mother, who had recently passed and they wanted her things to go to someone who would appreciate them. Enter me, the person obsessed with all things making, especially concerning fiber arts!

They wanted $250 each originally, which was already a great deal but they came down to $100 for both because time was running out and they needed them out of the house and being that I knew what I was looking at, they were convinced they found someone who would treat them right.

Now, I've never woven anything, ever. I've always wanted to learn but looms (and everything else fiber art related) are expensive and I've been happily spinning away on my spinning wheel. I did build a Dodec spinning wheel once but it worked so badly that I've been hesitant to build anything too complex pertaining to yarn, especially when it has so many individual parts like a lot of looms do, so finding these was like a dream come true.

After days of searching, I finally found the manual for my 6 Harness "Hearthside" loom but as I was reading through it I noticed it called for a piece that I didn't have. The manual called it a 'thread guide' but I've also seen it called a warp comb, because it essentially does the same thing a warp comb would. I don't know how important it is yet, but if I'm going to learn how to use this loom, I want to do it right and I can't spend a lot of money buying new pieces that may or may not fit a loom made in 1947.

I only found two photos on google of a similar piece so I used them as a guide, and this is what I came up with. Hopefully it'll help anyone else out there looking to make a period 'thread guide' for the old loom they came across accidentally, that they couldn't pass up.

Step 1: Supplies

These are the things I used to make my thread guide. None of them are set in stone. I just worked with what I had, so if you can find a better or easier way to do it, feel free.

  • Piece of sheet metal that won't easily bend if the yarn/string/thread catches and pulls on it
  • Metal sheers
  • Drill (I used a Ryobi plug in drill, and I have to say, it's the best drill I've ever used. It fits bits as small as 1/8"!)
  • Drill bit that will go through your metal
  • Hand files or a grinding bit
  • Hammer
  • Small vice
  • Rule
  • Pencil
  • Scrap wood
  • Clamp
  • Punch of some sort to put a dent in the metal where you want to drill
  • A flexible measuring tape, like one used for sewing

Step 2: Measuring

First, measure around the back car of your loom to find out how long to make your thread guide. Longer is better because you can always cut it down but you can't add pieces back on. Add 2.5 to 3" onto your measurement for the piece that will have the holes in it, mark your metal and use your sheers to cut out the piece as close to the lines as possible without cutting into them. If the metal bends while you're cutting it, don't worry. You can always pound out the bends afterward.

Now, figure out how many holes you want and figure out their placement. I wanted 24 holes plus a few extra just in case,so I staggered them, leaving as much room between each hole as possible so it wouldn't accidentally bend at some point. You also have to figure out how big you want the holes to be. If you plan on weaving rugs, I would make the holes a little bigger. Mine can easily fit worsted weight yarn through them.

Once you have everything measured out, take your tap, a hammer, and a spare piece of wood and dent the spots you've decided you want your holes, so your drill doesn't scoot all over the place when you're trying to drill.

Step 3: Drilling the Holes

Time to drill the holes! Clamp your piece and the scrap wood under it to your table. Go slowly if you're not used to working with metal and make sure to wear all the proper protection to prevent any metal dust from getting into your eyes. Be careful touching the metal too. It will get hot from the friction of the drill. And for the love of pizza, keep your hair away from the drill or any other machinery. I'm sure most of you have seen that new video of the girl trying to ear corn and getting her hair wrapped around the drill. Please don't let that happen to you. Always tie back your hair and any loose clothing when working with machines.

Make sure you drill all the way through, all the way into your scrap wood.

When you're finished drilling, you're going to have to deal with the back of the metal and all the burrs. I used a dremmel bit made for grinding down metal but if you don't have one, hand files will work just fine. Make sure you get it as smooth as possible. If yarn is going to be moving against your piece, you don't want it to snag anywhere.

Use a small round file to clean up the insides of the holes too.

Step 4: Creating the Bends

Once your holes are perfect, it's time to bend the metal into shape. Using a hard edge, preferably a vice, bend the end with the holes toward you, with your good side facing you. I created a 90 degree angle at first. You might want to use your hammer to sharpen the bend. Hammering will also strengthen that spot for you while you're at it!

Now take the piece over to the bar it's going to sit on and wrap the metal around it with your hands. You'll get a very loose version of what you're aiming for. Take it off the bar and bend it a little further, putting it on the bar after every slight bend to check how well it's holding on. This part is relatively intuitive. You want the bend to be tight enough that it will stay in place on its own but you don't want it so tight that it'll scratch or dent the wood. It should be able to slide down the bar easily but it should be bent enough that it doesn't wobble either. I wish I could explain this part better.

Of course, this is easier to do if your bar is square, like most new looms are. Mine is very curved.

Feel free to cut the piece down if it's too long once you're close to the final bend.

Step 5: You're Done!

Clean up the edges, smoothing them so they don't cut you, and getting rid of any last burrs.

And you're done!

Now I just have to figure out how to weave something.

If you have any questions, feel free to comment, and if you liked the instructable,

I'd love it if you voted for it in the String Challenge!

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