Table loom

Posted by jerry on October 10th, 2004 — Posted in Journal, Woodwork

I have long had a fascination with looms – perhaps something about the combination of timber and machinery – but they’ve always been something of an expensive luxury for a hobby. Yes I have built a couple of simple box looms and made the usual scarves and place mats, but multiple shaft looms seemed always beyond my capacity as a woodworker. Others have known about this interest for some time – indeed it came up in dinner party conversation about a couple of months ago with a friend of ours from Art school. At the time I thought little of it, but there was passing reference to being careful about what I wished for…

Then the phone call – it has a couple of broken parts, but it is basically complete – and it is just taking up room in my shed… She wasn’t kidding! So this weekend saw a quick visit with the van.

A nice simple four shaft loom – although the castle has lost the dowels that hold it upright and one of the shaft lever stays is broken, and the reed is rusty… I don’t think I was quite able to hide the boyish grin creeping around the corner of my face. So a real table loom to play with!

The loom is a four-harness (or four shaft) Sheridon table loom, made in Melbourne – I guess about 20 years ago. It is basically complete. So as soon as I got it home I set it on the workbench. I could perhaps have glued the broken harness lever support back together, but decided it would be stronger if I fabricated a new part. I carefully unscrewed and removed the broken part, then wiped the screws with silicon polish to remove the rust and ensure an easier reassembly.

I laid the broken piece on some pine I had lying around, thinking to make a test piece before remaking it in a harder wood.

Table loom component

Then after drawing around the old part, I carefully cut the pine to length on the bandsaw, and then cut in to define the ‘feet’, chiseling out the void below the ‘ramp’. Then back to the bandsaw to cut the curve. Then using the other lever support as a template, marked out where the screw holes should go and drilled them. Finally I used a medium grit on the belt sander (mounted belt-side up in the vice to free both hands) and smoothed out the curved section, then a quick dressing all round. Time for a trial fit:

Table loom (detail)

The fit is perfect and the action is smooth. Still a fair bit of work to do, but it will hold for now while I locate and cut some suitable dowels for the tower (I have found a couple of bolts that are the right size against which to measure the dowels). I still need to remove the rust from the reed comb (although the heddles are surprisingly rust free), replace the harness-raising strings and I suspect I will probably need to do some further disassembly for sanding and refinishing before rendering it fully serviceable again.

And then I may just want to build a boat shuttle – but that’s a future project! Here is the loom in its present state:

Table loom


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