OHLOOM - an Open Hardware Loom




This project shows how to upcycle a pallet and make a loom of its wooden planks, using some additional parts (the weaving comb and the ratchet gears) from a 3D-printer.

By using two somewhat contradictionary materials like wood, which is often seen as "good" material because its a natural stuff and secondly Plastics (ABS) as a synthetic material which is often seen as "evil", i wanted to show, that good or evil is never an attribute of a material itself, but merely, that it depends on what the humans will do with it.

If you use it in a creative or productive manner (like here with weaving), where it can be used over and over for eternities, then even the plastic is ok. But it is not ok, when we use it as one-way packaging material and it ends up swimming in the pacific ocean and there building an floating island of one third the size of Europe. So its all about our responsibility how we deal with the things.

Furthermore i wanted to demonstrate by this project how we can reuse and upcycle wood materials from old paletts and that "up-cycling" is even better than "re-cycling" (eg. burning the palett wood).

But that are just my personal ambitions which motivated me for doing this project. If you have no pallet available you can also use regular softwoods like spruce, fir or pine (or even hartwoods) with a thickness of 20mm. If only 18mm is available it will also work.

Step 1: Upcycling a Pallet

Any pallet with measurements conform to the standardized "euro-pallet"-format should be appropriate. Here i use a pallet which is no standard-format, but fullfills the most importantant points, like having up to 14.5cm wide planks, with a thickness of 22mm, that will give us 20mm when planed.

At first you have to dissassemble the pallet by the help of a crowbar (or two). Remove any nails from the woodplanks by using a hammer and pliers. Then the planks should be planed onto a thickness of 20mm. This can be done by a jointer machine or manually by a carpenter's plane. If neither of this tools is available to you, then you can of course also buy some appropriate planks (2cm thick, 15cm width, 60cm long) from a hardware store. But the upcycling-process is part of the fun ;)

Cut the planks to length and width, according to the plans in step 3. At the picture are also shown two wooden rounded bars from beechwood, which i bought initially. But then later i decided to make each single wooden part from the pallet and i replaced the rounded bars by two more octagonal bars wich i made from two glued-together wood-stripes. The octogonal profile is even more better for the weaving.

Step 2: Make a Warp- and a Cloth-Beam

Glue together two small planks of 710mm length, 40mm width and 20mm thickness. You get a square profile with 40x40mm. Cut this to 35x35mm on a table-saw.

Then remove the edges with a hand-planer in a manner that you get an octogonal profile.

Afterwards round each last 10cm of each end of the rod with the planner or a sanding machine to a diameter of 35 mm.

Alternatively you can also use a cylindrical wooden shaft with 35mm diameter and 710 mm length.

Step 3: The Frame-side

The frame-side is made from a 20 mm plank with 58x14cm and has some drilling-holes, according to the plan. This part is also available as fcstd-file (FreeCAD).

The comb-holder is a small peace of 118x60mm and can easily be cuttet from the planks. It will be mounted to the frame-side and has coded the up and down moves into its gaps-sizes.

Step 4: The Weaving Comb and the Ratchet-Gear

The Weaving Comb and the Ratchet-Gear and the end-rings are made from a 3D-printer. I was too lazy to make these parts from wood ;) The ABS-material is stable and strong enough for this task of weaving. You can find the needed construction filess as .stl-files for printing and as .fcstd FreeCAD-files in the source-package.

Step 5: Assembly of the Frame

Start with mounting the combholder to the frame sides with two 35mm woodscrews. Then place the two crosslink parts between the sides and put the Warpbeam and the clothbeam shafts into the holes. Connect the sideparts to the crosslinks with two 60mm woodscrews on each side.

Then move the ratchetwheels and the clamprings onto the shaftends and fix it with a M6x70 cylinderscrew and two nuts.

Now bind the Stringstick (for connecting the warp strings) on the clothbeam like in the above photo.

Step 6: Assembly of the Weaving Comb

For assembling the comb hold the two slotbeams in parallel but facing the slot towards each other. Then put the 4 3D-printed comb-modules into the slot so that they build a homogenious comb of about 400mm length.

Connect the beams with two threaded rods at each end, which you fix with the help of two M8 nuts. The theraded rods act here also as a distance holder for the slotbeams and build a kind of frame with them together.

Step 7: Heddle the Warp

Next mount the OHLOOM to a table with a clamp and heddle the warp.

Its important to note, that the length of the warp can be far longer like the looms length, like 2 or 3 m. This is because the yarn on one side and the fresh woven cloth on the other side can be wrapped around the warpbeam and the clothbeam by simply turning it after loosening the ratchet pawl. Then you have to bring some tension into the warp before putting it back into place.

Step 8: The Shuttle for Weaving

Prepare the ends of the shuttle like in the photo above. It is important to smooth the edges by rounding them with a file or sandpaper. Sharp edges could otherwise damage the yarn.

Then wind some yarn onto the shuttle and start weaving.

Step 9: BOM and Sources

An OHLOOM project page in german language can be found at:


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    12 Discussions


    7 days ago

    Under steps 2, you state the following:

    "Glue together two small planks of XXmm length, 40mm width and 20mm thickness. You get a square profile with 40x40mm. Cut this to 35x35mm on a table-saw."

    I'm still in the preliminary stages of reading these instructions, so I may have missed the explanation. If that is the case, forgive me. If not, what does XXmm mean?

    1 reply

    Reply 5 days ago

    Thanks for the hint, i forgot to set this value. Its 710mm.

    There might be still other small inaccuracies in this build instruction but we are working on making it more detailed. In between as a workaround, some of the dimensions can also be taken from the bill of materials at the end of the text.


    10 days ago

    First of all, it's tiny!!! When you first mentioned pallets, I thought you were about to make a loom for carpets and other big projects. My great-aunt has one of those, it occupies a full room. Of course, yours is a lot more manageable! :)
    I've been meaning to try something like this, so thanks for sharing and explaining.

    3 replies

    Reply 10 days ago

    Yes, for a DIY-project its better to handle with smaller dimensions. My idea was that you can produce fabric planes with a given width of 50cm, but with arbitrary length (because the fabric can be rolled up / wounded on the cothbeam) and these planes can be connected by sewing them together, if you want to have a big blanket (or carpet). Thats the same what people in ancient times did with their linnen.

    And btw., once i've heard, that the sails from the old vikings dragon-boats were also made from woolen fabric. In modern representations they were often shown with red and white stripes. I dont know whether this is historically correct, but it supports/illustrates the idea that they also made long fabric planes which were sewed together.


    Reply 9 days ago

    For me it's just one of many hobbies, so something small and easily brought in and out of storage is, of course, preferable and you're right, it's always possible to sew strips together.
    I'm Portuguese, here we had big looms traditionally. I still have blankets and carpets made from a single piece.
    Not my photo and not my aunt, but my great-aunt's loom looks something like this:


    Reply 8 days ago

    Hey, thanks for the nice picture ! This kind of loom is indeed quite huge and at the same time gives a far more finer quality of cloth. Thats professional grade and people used it in former times to earn a living from it.

    But see all this millions of strings ... to be honest, it would drive me mad to heddle a warp on that :) (But even that is nothing against the real hardcore stuff ;) which can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3JdxI9e0yg )

    I am from Germany and live in the countryside and here also these big ones were used, mostly to weave linnen on it, which was used as part of a brides trosseaux/dowry.

    case06Penolopy Bulnick

    Reply 16 days ago

    indeed, its makerfaire-approved :) From oldest seniors up to little children have already successful proven to be able to operate it easily.


    17 days ago

    Incredibly impressive! Looks like the fabric you're making is wonderful quality too :D

    1 reply

    Reply 16 days ago

    Thanks and yes, its a kind of 100% natural and organic wool which still has a slightly smell of lanoline and is therefore quite robust against dirt and moisture. I use it either in its nature colours or self dyed with plants (like the green uper part of carrots, which gives a nice green and yellow colour).

    Another important point for me is that it is as warm as possible and therefore i prefer a very thick wool and accordingly i have dimensioned the comb quite coarse. Theoretically one could make the comb also appropriate for more and finer strings, but i believe the rough meshes are providing the most warmth.

    16 days ago

    Wow, I want to make a rigid heddle loom exactly the way you did for such a long time! Thank you for sharing your plans and stl files, this is a great project!

    1 reply

    Reply 16 days ago

    thanks and good to hear that some people may find it useful ! That motivates me to continue with optimizing the documention further and make it more detailed .