Monday, December 23, 2013

Building the Triangle Loom

The finished 7-foot Triangle Loom

When I looked at the price to purchase a triangle loom, my jaw hit the floor : $346 and up for walnut or oak.  My initial reaction was, "It's a couple of wooden rails and some nails.  Why does it cost so much?  We can make one ourselves ... "   Well, yes, we can, and we did.  It took some time and some elbow grease, but the cost of materials was only about $10 for 3 boxes of finish nails and a drill bit.   We used wood from Christian's stash : walnut and red oak.  Not even sure where he got this wood from anymore, but he decided this was a fine project to use the wood he'd been saving.

We used Wayne's instructions for building a Triangle Loom here.  Because he's a guy, it was presented in a way that made sense to my husband who was an integral part of this project.  There are some other good pages here and here.   In addition, the Triangle Loom Yahoo Group also had plans for building looms, but you have to be a member to see it.  Frankly, there are many other pages that better explain how to build one of these looms.  This is just some of my notes on the process, not an exact How to ...

The first thing we did was wash the nails.  Otherwise, there's a gray something-or-other that comes off on your hands when you handle the nails.  We used Dawn dish washing liquid and gave them a good scrub --initially without water.    Then rinsed with hot water; dried and polished with paste wax.   We needed at minimum 660 nails--that's a lot of nails!

  Preparing the wooden rails.  CL used his hand planes to smooth and finish the surfaces.
  Then I got to do the final sanding ...

 I love the wood shavings that come from a project like this.  Not only do they smell good, they look beautiful, too!

 After sanding, comes the paste-wax finish (I got to do that job, too).  You don't want your yarns to catch on any rough wood.

You can see how the paste wax brings out the natural beauty of the wood.   
In this picture, paste wax was applied to the top rail, but not yet to the bottom rail.  What a difference!

 While CL was working through how many nails we needed, and the spacing issues, he made a mini-triangle loom (about 2 inches) to test out some theories and feasibility and spacing of the nails.  We went with 3/8 inch along the top hypotenuse and about 1/4 inch along the sides.   

Test triangles woven in wool, cotton string, and acrylic homespun yarn.  Yup, we both decided this was a project worth pursuing ...  ;-)

 My husband worked out a template to mark where the nails needed to go.  

Next step : Marking and drilling all those holes : 660 holes to be exact.   You need to pre-drill the holes to avoid splitting the wood during the nailing process.  A drill press makes this job a hundred times easier.  I can't imagine trying to do this with a hand drill.   Fortunately, we have a drill press in the basement just waiting to be put into service for such a project.  We used painter's tape to mark where I needed to drill.  It also kept the wood from splintering when pulling out the drill. 

 Lot's of drilling--and lots of layers.  Our basement is not heated, and I needed to keep warm. 

 Holes drilled and done in all three rails. 

 Once the holes were drilled, we had to lay out the rails and mark the ends so they could be cut to fit together nicely.  I left this step to my oh-so-handy-and-helpful husband.  [Smile and wave, Sweetie!]

 Next step : Pounding in all those nails.   I had a wooden guide to help make sure I pounded down to the right depth.  This was very helpful.   Even better, when I realized I could do more than one nail at a time by holding the guide along the back of the line of nails. 

A few notes on this stage :
1)  The nails we bought were too long.  This concerned me, but my husband was sure it wouldn't be a problem.  He planned to use a grinder and grind all that excess off of the back side ...
2)  We left the blue painter's tape on because we thought we'd have to squeeze some glue on to help secure the nails.  The tape would protect the wood from any glue spillage.  In actuality, the glue didn't seem to do anything, or maybe not enough actually got into the holes ...  It wasn't holding the nails in place.  If we had known that ahead of time, we would have removed the painter's tape BEFORE pounding in the nails.  It was kind of a picky pain-staking process to remove it in tiny pieces after the fact.  Live and learn.  
3) Some of the nails seemed "loose."  Not sure if that's an irregularity in the manufacturing, or if if the drill was getting dull by this time.  Sometimes, I could find a different nail that was snug. Sometimes, not. 

 Pounding ... Pounding ... Pounding.
  Got the iPad there listening to Once Upon a Time poscasts to keep my mind occupied. 

Then it was back over to my husband for grinding off the nails that went through the back side (no pictures of this process.  I didn't want to see anyone get hurt.  Turns out the glue wasn't really holding the nails in place.  CL said they were spinning as he was grinding.  He wound up having to hold each one in place while he ground off the excess.   I guess this is why people pay for someone else to make these looms!  In the end, he but a line of electrical tape on the back side to smooth out the nails and the wood.  Doesn't bother me much--I'm not looking at or working from the back side. 

Once again, here's the finished loom hanging from my design wall. 

 I used 2 silk ties (left over from another project) to suspend the loom from the curtain rod.  This makes it more adjustable than simply nailing it to the wall (which wasn't really an option for my little room). 

That's it!  Done!  Now I can start weaving ...  Thanks for staying with me to the end of this post!


The Idaho Beauty said...

What a process! Your yarn dyeing produced some lovely Colorado to us here. I couldn't help noticing the dog wedged in by the wood stove - they do love the heat!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this! I wouldn't have thought of washing the nails first, or of hanging the loom from a curtain rod. Brilliant! Thank you for letting us know about your problems as well so we don't make the same ones. For others reading, only drill pilot holes, not as deep as the nails are going to go so they will be snug.