How I Built My Loom

This is how I built my loom. I hesitate to call this a tutorial because I don’t really have pictures for every single step and because I kind of faked my way through the process. But hey, I’ve got a loom now and it works. So if you’re interested read on. (P.S. These instructions look complicated but they’re not. I built my loom in about 3 hours with nothing but ideas from the web. You can do this!)

I’m going to put links to a set of Navajo loom plans right here. **Go here instead**They also appear as part of Step 9 in the tutorial. It might be a good idea to go look them over before you start this. Be warned, my loom is not exactly the same as what you’ll see (it’s simpler) but the principles are the same.

What You Will Need

  • Four, 9′ 2X4s (You will not find 2X4s that are actually 9′ long, they will be 8’11″ or so)
  • One dowel rod, 1″diameter by 4′ long
  • Two dowel rods, 1″ diameter by 3-1/2′ long
  • Saw
  • Drill with a drill bit that is the same length as but slightly smaller in diameter than your screws
  • Screwdriver or screwdriver bit for your drill
  • Wood screws 2-1/2″ long
  • Scissors or knife
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Cotton clothesline (I think this usually comes in a 100′ package)
  • Burly helper (this is optional and in fact may be more of a hinderance than help, use your best judgment)

Step 1:  Gather your materials and tools.

Step 2:  Select the two straightest 2X4s. Measure and mark each of the two boards at 6′. Cut the two boards. You should end up with two (2) boards that are 6′ long, and two (2) boards that are a little less than 3′ long.

Step 3:  Select the two uncut 2X4s. Measure and mark each of the boards at 4′. Cut the two boards. Now measure and mark the uncut part of the boards at 4′ again. Cut the boards. You should end up with four (4) boards that are 4′ long and two boards that are just under 1′ long.  Your cut materials should look something like this (pay no attention to the dowel rods in this picture, they are actually old closet rods that were in the garage)     

parts-and-pieces.jpg

Step 4: Lay the two 6′ long pieces parallel to each other about 4′ apart ( do you see where this is going?). Now lay one 4′ long piece at the top of the two long pieces so that you are beginning to form a square. Lay a second 4′ long piece at the bottom of the two long pieces and adjust all the pieces until your square looks like this     

square.jpg

 NOTE: The short pieces DO NOT GO BETWEEN the long pieces, they should cover the ends of the long pieces.

Step 5: Screw all the pieces together. (Here’s where the burly helper would come in handy, but you can do it by yourself also). At each corner, drill two pilot holes through the short piece into the long piece. Use these holes to fasten the pieces together with the wood screws.

Step 6:  Select one (1) of the remaining 4′ long pieces. Place this piece across your square so it rests on the long pieces and is parallel to the top crosspiece. Place it so that there is a 1″ gap between it and the top crosspiece. Drill two pilot holes through each end of the short board into the sides of the long boards. (Steps 6 & 7 & 8 don’t have real pictures so you’ll have imagine from the completed loom)

top.jpg

Use these holes to fasten the pieces together with the wood screws.

Step 7:  Select the remaining 4′ long piece and place at the bottom of the square just like you did the other at the top EXCEPT this time leave about a 4 inch gap between it and the bottom crosspiece.

feet.jpg

Again drill pilot holes, two at each end and attach with wood screws.

Step 8:  At this point you should still have four (4) pieces of unused wood. Two pieces that are a little under 3′ long and two pieces that are a little under 1′ long. The two 3′ pieces will be the feet. The two 1′ pieces will be heddle holders later on but are not needed during construction. Select the two 3′ pieces and mark the center (length) on each. Set aside for a moment.

The easiest way to attach the feet is to first turn the loom onto one of its long sides (again the burly helper would be nice here). After the loom is on a long side, select one of the 3′ pieces and align its center mark with the center of the side of the loom at the bottom. Lining up the centers is not critical but you should make sure that the bottom edge of the foot is flush with the bottom edge of the loom. Drill three (3) pilot holes in a triangle pattern through the foot into the side of the loom. Attach with wood screws. Repeat for other foot.

Now, if I’ve not totally hosed up these directions, your loom should look something like this (minus the rope and the dowel rods)

finished-loom-unwarped.jpg

Step 9:  Attaching the tension rod and warp rods (dowel rods). This is a booger to explain so I’m going to give you a link to a PDF file with pictures and stuff. If you can’t open the file or have a question let me know and I will try to help.

Navajo Loom Plans (The first page is hand drawn… badly. Don’t let that put you off. These are the best plans I’ve seen.)

Navajo Loom Plans 2 (These are the same plans as above only in “engineer-ese”. Scroll to the last page to see how to tie the knots for the tension rope.)

For loom plans see the link at the top of the post.

Step 10: Admire your new loom! Or conversely, leave a comment saying that these were the worst instructions you ever read and I should never attempt to teach someone to blow their nose much less build something. Either way, let me know what you think and how you did.

25 Responses

  1. This really well done.. Thank you.

  2. That looks so cool! I used a tiny loom years ago to make beaded bracelets, I guess this is the same principle on a much much much larger scale – I’m impressed.

  3. Thanks Mom.

    Thanks Superjen.

    It was fun to build and its more fun to use and the best part is it only cost me about $10 bucks since I already had the dowels and rope.

  4. Dear Freethnkr1965,
    your information and photographs of building a Navaho loom and setting it up to weave are fabulous. thank you so much for taking the time to share all this information.

    for your info, someone searching the internet found your site, and this has set off an incredible flurry of creativity with respect to whether we could set up a Mirrix loom in a fashion similar to the one you describe for your Navaho loom setup.

    the Mirrix looms discussion page is http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Mirrixlooms/ . you need to sign in to Yahoo ONCE to join any yahoo groups discussion page … use the same sign in for all pages. you’ll be able to see the development of concepts from “no it can’t be done” to “Yes it can, look at Freethnkr’s explanations, to ohgosh I’m going to try this!!!”

    Claudia Chase is the creator of the Mirrix loom, and she may already have posted an email to you. if not, then please consider this as an invitation to look over the discussion on this yahoo groups page, and join if if you would like to share ideas, suggestions, options, etc.

    In the meantime, I will keep your page as part of my personal links. I give a tutorial at a regional art festival every year. this year I will discuss how to weave beads (or beads and fiber) on a loom. I like to provide some history so I’ll definitely mention all the creative loom construction ideas developed by the Navaho Indians. I’ll also refer my audience to your page because you have such an excellent tutorial on how to build your own loom.

    thanks again for all your detailed information.
    Mary

  5. Freethnkr,
    after I had sent my message to you I checked the group discussion page myself and couldn’t find any of the postings … I had to search for them!

    so, if you visit the Mirrix looms discussion group (link from my previous message), do a search for “no warps.” this brings up the flurry of messages I referred to.

    I wanted to give you the tip about searching for this set of postings so you can join in the fun.
    all the best,
    Mary

  6. Mary,

    Wow! Thanks so much. I never thought anyone would really use this. haha

    I submitted my request to join the group, can’t wait to see what people are saying and to pick up tips.

  7. I’ve been recently blessed to have been a guest in the home of freethnkr1965, and I can attest to the excellent cooking, as well as the joy of watching my 20 month-old granddaughter assist in the weaving process. Thanks for sharing with all of us.

  8. I wanted to start weaving, but all the looms I was interested in are 2-3 thousand dollars. I found your site and was just thrilled. It is great, you give excellent instructions and how to’s.
    You use lots of terms that beginners are not familiar with, such as warp. What does that mean, can you give a list of what items I would need to set up shop? I’ve seen shuttle, beater and other terms, that I have no clue what they mean. I am 54 and made a shawl in high school, so I wanted to start weaving again. Thanks for all the time you’ve taken to assist everyone. If you ever need any how to’s on how to write a legal document, feel free to ask. Thank you so much for your input.
    Linda

  9. The plans links don’t work anymore. Got a copy saved anywhere?

  10. Yes I would love the Navajo Loom Plans also as I would love to do this.

  11. Hi! I would also love the plans, as we are building this in my classroom for students to use and I need to know how to attach the tension rod so they can weave! Thanks so much!

  12. If your plans are still available would love to have them also. Thanks so much

  13. Yes, I too would love to access the plans, and the link now directs to this page: http://ipwsupport.com/suspended.page/

  14. thanks guys for all the info, will try this and it’s great that i could get help, no real family near by so I have to do it this way, from way up north freezing thanks again

  15. I would love the plans if they are still available please xxxx

  16. Hello freethnkr1965
    The Burly helper was of great help and together we followed your instruction to the letter. They were flawless.
    Thanks so much
    Carina

  17. hubby just finished building one for me. great plans…thanks for sharing!

  18. I have wanted a Navajo style loom for ages, which i can put against the wall when not using it, and my partner who is amazing at woodwork offered to build one for me. The biggest problem was finding the plans, as there are so many plans for buidling looms online but few of them are any real use, or don’t really explain what to do with the pieces of wood. I knew exactly what i wanted it to function but didn’t know how to explain this to my partner. Eventually i found a couple of pdf plans for the right type but again they only showed how to build the basic frame and not how to put the moving parts in.
    I then stumbled across your original reply to a set of plans and when i clicked I said “YES!! That’s exactly right!”
    You’ve shown and explained exactly how to do it, and we already have loads of recycled wood which will be more than enough!
    Hopefully I’ll soon have my very own loom, I’ll let you know how it goes.
    THANKS FOR SHARING!
    Cal x

  19. My Husband just built this for me. I cannot wait to get my hands on it

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