Building a big comb

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Forum topic by Absinthe posted 10-14-2011 03:21 PM 3567 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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90 posts in 2498 days

10-14-2011 03:21 PM

Next project is to build a weaving loom. Many people seem to start these project suggestions with “Buy a commercially made reed and beater and heddles” then build a stand around it. To me that seems like cheating.

I have seen plans for tape looms, and lap looms that essentially involve getting a slot started and then inserting a saw or even some that use a comb saw. Two ideas I am loath to try, especially for a 24” or 30” reed.

There are two parts in general that require a comb to be made. The first is the beater, it is simple enough that some people use a fork. The second is called a rigid heddle. A heddle is something that holds yarn which is being woven. In a rigid heddle system it holds ever other strand so that you can lift it up and that will separate the strands so you can simply slide your yarn through, push it down and you can do it again. This way you don’t have to actually go the under/over/under/over thing like we did in 1st grade weaving construction paper place mats :)

In its simplest form it is a series of equidistant slots and holes.

My first attempt was with popsicle sticks.

This accomplished 4-1/2” of flimsy construction and lots of glue on my fingers. It also took over an hour to get that far. I believe that will not be my final solution, unless I can come up with a better way to jig it up so I can do more at once.

On my ride to work today I came up with an idea. If I take a board, lets say 32” long and 6” wide. Then essentially laminate a piece of masonite on to it (just on the edge 1” or so (along the 6” part so there would be 4” center essentially not glued). Then using a jig like for box joints/finger joints that are just the width of my saw blade (1/8” curf every other 1/4”) just barely deeper than the masonite thickness. When it is all cut, turn the board over, masonite side up, and rip 1” in from the edges to release the unglued center part of the board. I assume I could then glue a mating piece of wood on the cut side edges to I have what looke like an I-beam with the comb in the center. Anyone see any flaws in this plan?

Here is an image of some commercial ones:

-- Absinthe

9 replies so far

View Cliff De Witt 's profile

Cliff De Witt

130 posts in 2659 days

#1 posted 10-14-2011 04:29 PM

You are finding out why most plans say but a commercial reed.

What about if you took the Popsicle stick and drilled the hole through the center then put them side by side. You would not have a very fine warp but a lot less glue.

Another problem with the way I suggested is the Reed would not be very strong, unless the frame was much wider.

What size loom are you building? I did an 8 heddle Baby Wolf knock off for my wife as a 10th anniversary gift, by the time I got done it would have cost less to just buy one, but I made this one and she is very proud of it.

Keep posting on this as I would like to see what you come up with, I may go back and redo her reeds and beater. (I copped out and bought commercial Reeds and beaters)

-- Trying to find an answer to my son’s question: “…and forming organic cellulose by spinning it on its axis is interesting, why?”

View Absinthe's profile


90 posts in 2498 days

#2 posted 10-14-2011 05:53 PM

Cliff, I have just gotten in to spinning, I was doing felting before and this seems the logical progression. My wife, however, is doing the weaving. I started off by building a peg loom. She has taken to that quite well and has made a few interesting scarves and the like.

As for myself, I started with a drop spindle that my neighbor gave me and have since made a few (utilitarian ones of my own) and will no doubt make more at some later date. I am currently in negotiations for a wheel so I am not really interested in building one of those yet :)

Obviously, the peg loom is a simple monster, just drillpress a bunch of holes and insert pegs and drill some holes in them.

I am considering working my way through each type of loom. So the next will probably be frame loom, then backstrap, warp weighted, rigid heddle and as I progress I want to do at least a 4 shaft floor loom and perhaps a table top one as well. (I am also in the midst of doing a drum carder which I have posted here as well)

Anyway, there is little technical issue with most of them, however, the comb for the beater and the rigid heddle are interesting technical puzzles. I have even considered “weaving” the heddle from wire similar to how one makes the string heddles for the multishaft machines. I have even considered making a heddle by stretching a bunch of wire heddles between two boards. basically a shaft without a castle :)

-- Absinthe

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90 posts in 2498 days

#3 posted 10-14-2011 07:15 PM

Cliff, I knew full well why most plans called for purchasing a commercial made reed. :D It is definitely not a “no-brainer”, but I am liking the idea of cutting one on the table saw. Initially I was thinking of a single board, box jointed across the face to some depth and then dadoed on the other side to leave a grill of sorts. I felt better of the idea that simply partially laminated something to the board and then just chunked it out of the middle. I am still open to ideas. There is nothing to say that I cant do the slices and then make a silicone mold and cast it in plastic resin.

-- Absinthe

View Lazy_K's profile


122 posts in 2156 days

#4 posted 08-30-2014 02:35 AM

I know you posted this a while ago, but did you have plans? did you finish a loom? I can’t find plans/I want plans. I’d probably not follow the plans but they would give me a starting place.

-- Kai SaerPren

View Absinthe's profile


90 posts in 2498 days

#5 posted 08-30-2014 12:41 PM

I have since purchased several small rigid heddle looms. (3 to be exact). The design is pretty basic, so duplicating such should be easy.

To make the heddle completely from wood is “comb” work. However, one could use wire heddles instead. They can either be purchased in bulk or twisted yourself. Also, there is the concept of string heddles which can also easily be tied yourself.

I have also found that if I draw it out nicely I can have a company like Ponoko lazer cut it from any number of materials.

I will build both a rigid heddle loom as well as soem others, but at present all my tools are in storage (in the middle of a move).

-- Absinthe

View katrina's profile


6 posts in 1091 days

#6 posted 04-28-2015 01:51 PM

nice work

View Lucasd2002's profile


124 posts in 1319 days

#7 posted 04-28-2015 02:00 PM

We ain’t found sh1t!

View Absinthe's profile


90 posts in 2498 days

#8 posted 04-28-2015 05:44 PM

I am still in consideration of this, however, I have just gotten my tools out of storage and I am more worried with setting up my shop now. Got a nice 22’x40’ space. Just installed the clearview cyclone and next step is laying out the tools so I can do the ducting. BUT! Then back to making a loom… I promise :)

-- Absinthe

View AZWoody's profile


1325 posts in 1190 days

#9 posted 04-28-2015 06:48 PM

We ain t found sh1t!

- Lucasd2002

Lol, I was thinking the exact same thing when I saw the topic.

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