Intro: DIY Laser Cut Rigid Heddle Loom - Part 1: Building the Loom
Welcome to The Interlace Project!
Our mission is to make weaving more accessible by designing open-source weaving looms
Rigid Heddle Looms are a great introduction to weaving and the skills you learn are all transferable to other types of looms. Easy to set up and use, this loom comes with a 5dpi* rigid heddle but has been designed to work with Ashford SampleIt Loom Reed (10"/25cm) for additional flexibility.
*dpi = Dents Per Inch - number of spaces (dents) per inch in a reed or rigid heddle.
What is Weaving?
Weaving is a method of creating cloth from two sets of yarns or threads interlaced at right angles. The lengthwise threads are called the warp and the sideways threads are called the weft . Cloth is usually woven on a loom , a device that holds the warp threads taut and in parallel to each other while weft threads are woven through them.
The warp threads are passed through the eyes of the heddles and these are used to move the warp threads up and down
The weft threads are wound or wrapped onto a shuttle which is passed back and forth through the shed - the gap created between the warp threads when they are raised or lowered.
The beater is used to push the weft yarn into place.
In Rigid Heddle weaving the beater and heddles are combined into a single tool. The warp threads pass alternately through the eye of a heddle and through a space between the heddles, so that raising the shaft will raise half the threads (those passing through the heddles), and lowering the shaft will lower the same threads—the threads passing through the spaces between the heddles remain in place.
Step 1: Parts of the Rigid Heddle Loom
Step 2: Materials and Tools
- 6mm MDF - 600mm x 400mm
- 3mm perspex or MDF - 300mm x 150mm
- 1mm MDF or thick card - 50mm x 170mm
- 4 x 25mm Dowling cut into 300mm lengths
- 2 x 9mm Dowling - cut to 280mm lengths
- 8 x Machine Thread to Wood Thread Dowel Screws - M8 x 75mm
- 4 x M8 Wingnuts
- 4 x M8 Hex Nuts
- 8 x M8 Washers
- 4 x 40mm M6 Bolts
- 4 x M6 Hex nuts
- 4 x 20mm M4 Bots
- 4 x M4 Nuts
- 2mm Nylon cord
- 6 x flat head drawing pins or thumbtacks
- Laser Cutter (we have a 600mm x 400mm bed and cutting files are laid out to fit this - Please adjust the files for different sized beds.)
- 25mm flat wood drill bit
- 8mm mm wood drill bit
- Pillar Drill (optional)
- Small adjustable wrench
Step 3: Laser Cutting Files
The main laser cut parts of the loom can be cut from a single sheet of 600mm x 400mm (23x15”) 6mm MDF.
The rigid heddle reed and the shuttles are cut from a piece of 300mm x 150mm (12x6”) 3mm perspex or MDF
The reed/heddle hook can be cut from a piece of 50mm x 170mm (2x7”) 1mm MDF, perspex or thick card. Note - the hooks may wear out depending on the material you cut them from so you may want to make several in advance.
Step 4: Preparing the Beams
The body of the loom is constructed around the 4 beams (Front, Back, Warp and Cloth - see photo above). These are made from 4 pieces of 25mm thick dowel cut into 300mm lengths with a dowel screw in each end.
In order to position the dowel screws in the centre of the the dowel, make a jig from a scrap of wood - Use a 25mm flat wood drill bit and drill a hole about 10mm deep. Next drill a 8mm hole for the drill bit centered in the hole (this is much easier if you have access to a pillar drill)
Step 5: Preparing the Beams
Clamp the dowel in a table vice - wrap a cloth around the dowel to prevent dents in the wood.
Step 6: Preparing the Beams
Place the jig on the end of the dowel.
Step 7: Preparing the Beams
Drill a pilot hole in the end of the dowel using the jig as a guide - you may want to drill a smaller pilot hole first depending on the hardness of the wood.
Step 8: Preparing the Beams
Mark the depth of the dowel screw on the drill bit using a marker pen.
Carefully drill out the hole in the end of the dowel using the mark on the drill bit as a depth guide.
Step 9: Preparing the Beams
Add a hex nut to the bolt end of the dowel screw to act as an end stop and add two more hex nuts to act as a grip point for an adjustable wrench.
Step 10: Preparing the Beams
Screw the dowel screw into the drilled hole. You should be able to make the first few turns by hand in order to make sure the screw is straight, then use the wrench to insert the screw using the top 2 hex bolts as a grip point.
Repeat the process at each end for all of the beams.
Step 11: Assembling the Rigid Heddle Loom
Place the heddle block on the inside of the loom frame - make sure the ‘neutral’ position
(the long vertical slot in heddle block) is towards the back of the loom.
Step 12: Assembling the Rigid Heddle Loom
Slot the base into the frame, making sure to keep the screw holes of the frame and the heddle block lined up.
Step 13: Assembling the Rigid Heddle Loom
Insert an 40mm M6 bolt through the holes of the frame, heddle block and the slot of the base.
Step 14: Assembling the Rigid Heddle Loom
Place a M6 hex (or square) nut into the slot of the base and screw in the bolt.
Repeat for the other hole and tighten up the bolts to secure the joint.
Step 15: Assembling the Rigid Heddle Loom
Insert one of the beams into the bottom front hole, add a washer and secure with a M8 wingnut - this is the Cloth Beam.
Step 16: Assembling the Rigid Heddle Loom
Insert one of the beams into the top front hole, add a washer and secure with a M8 hex nut - this is the Front Beam.
Step 17: Assembling the Rigid Heddle Loom
Insert one of the beams into the bottom back hole, add a washer and secure with a M8 wingnut - this is the Warp Beam.
Step 18: Assembling the Rigid Heddle Loom
Insert the final beam into the top back hole, add a washer and secure with a M8 hex nut - this is the Back Beam.
Step 19: Assembling the Rigid Heddle Loom
Make sure all the bolts are secure but not too tight as you will need to wiggle the base and beams into the corresponding holes on the opposite side of the loom frame.
Add the other side of the loom frame, lining up the beam holes and base slots.
Step 20: Assembling the Rigid Heddle Loom
Slot the other heddle block into position between the loom frame and the base, making sure to line up the bolt holes.
Secure the base to the loom frame and heddle block using the remaining two 40mm M6 bolts.
Add M8 washers, hex nuts (Front and Back Beams) and wingnuts (Cloth and Warp Beams) to the corresponding beam bolts and tighten up all the bolts - use a wrench if needed.
Step 21: Apron Rods
Apron rods are used to connect the warp ends (the individual or bundles of warp threads) to the warp beam and the cloth beam.
Set up two g-clamps 30cm apart.
Step 22: Apron Rods
Pull the nylon cord around one of the g-clamps and up to the other so that you have a double length.
Give yourself an additional 10-15cm on each end of the cord and cut.
Tie the ends together using a double knot - be sure to keep the loop you have created around the g-clamps taut.
Step 23: Apron Rods
Use a flame to melt the ends of the cord together and seal the knot - BE VERY VERY CAREFUL! Nylon is highly flammable and melts quickly - you should only need to apply the flame for a second.
Step 24: Apron Rods
Mark the placement of one of the g-clamps so you can put it back in the same position and then loosen it to remove the nylon cord loop.
Repeat 21-23 until you have 6 nylon cord loops of equal length.
Step 25: Apron Rods
Attach the first cord to the middle of the Cloth beam using a Larks Head knot (also known as Cow Hitch or a Lanyard Hitch)
Step 26: Apron Rods
Create a second Larks Head knot around your fingers and slide one of the 9mm dowling rods into the loop - this is the front apron rod.
Step 27: Apron Rods
Tie two more cord loops at either end of the Cloth Beam and secure the ends of the front apron rod. Repeat the process for the back apron rod on the Warp Beam.
Step 28: Apron Rods
To prevent the cords from slipping on the beams during weaving, you can use flat head drawing pins to secure the knots - make sure the pins are placed exactly in line and at equal distance along the beam or there will be problems with even tension when you begin to weave.
Step 29: Rigid Heddle
In rigid heddle weaving, the beater is combined with the heddles so it must be strong enough to beat the weft threads securely into place without snagging the warp threads as it is moved. This loom comes with a 5dpi heddle - the reed is ideal for cutting in perspex and is mounted in the crossbars by 4 small 20mm M4 bolts.