By Kristin Roach
Weaving is one of my favorite crafts because it’s meditative and challenging, practical and artistic. It combines plain-woven cloth’s simple elegance with the astounding complexity of a kilim split-stitch tapestry.
I love the way woven straps look, but the idea of warping my floor loom just to make something as narrow as a strap for my bike messenger bag seemed like overkill. Then I came across a wonderful and traditional solution – the inkle loom! This loom is relatively easy to build, costs under $30 to purchase all of the supplies (even less if you have the right screws around), and takes only an hour to warp and start weaving.
The slot-and-peg tensioning rod allows you to move the continuous warp through the loom and weave the entire length. That’s eight feet of warp that you can weave all in one go without stopping. You can make it a simple plain weave or tapestry style.
Select hardwoods like red cedar or oak:
1″ X 2″ X 12″ (3/4″ X 1 1/2″ X 24″ actual size)
1″ X 3″ X 24″ (3/4″ X 2 1/2″ X 24″ actual size)
1″ X 4″ X 48″ (3/4″ X 3 1/2″ X 48″ actual size)
1″ X 6″ X 24″ (3/4″ X 6 1/2″ X 24″ actual size)
2 lengths of 3/4″ dowel rod, 36″ long
4 wood screws, 5/8″ (#8)
12 wood screws, 1 1/2″ (#8)
Scrap block of wood, to help press pegs into holes
1/4″ hanger bolt
1/4″ disc washer
1/4″ wing nut
Hand saw, see “Optional” below for a list of appropriate power tools to speed up this project
Drill, a drill press is really handy if you have one
3/8″ flat wood bit
3/4″ flat wood bit
1/8″ drill bit, for pilot holes
3/16″ drill bit, for hanger bolt placement
Phillips-head screwdriver, to fit wood screws
A powered rotary hand saw, table saw, or miter saw would be ideal for making quick work of cutting your hardwood. It can be done with the hand saw, but because we are using hardwood, it will take persistence and patience. Just don’t feel like you have to buy a new saw to build your inkle loom.
Step 1: Cut down all your wood to the following sizes:
(1) 1″ X 4″ X 30″ (Piece A)
(2) 1″ X 3″ X 12″ (Pieces B)
(1) 1″ X 2″ X 5″ (Piece C)
(1) 1″ X 6″ X 16″ (Piece D)
(7) 3/4″ dowel rod, 5 1/4″ lengths (Pieces E)
Step 2: Make your laps: corner lap and plain lap cuts.
This will rock your woodworking world. It’s so simple to do once you know how. It looks really nice and adds extra stability to your loom. Grab your compound angle, pencil, measuring tape, and pieces A and B, and measure where your lap cuts will go. Use the illustration to see the exact placement of each lap.
a. Use the compound angle to mark straight lines. Measure the placement as well as the depth. You’ll use the lines to guide your cuts.
Note: For the plain lap in piece A, drill a hole with the 3/8″ flat bit at the corner of the lap so you can turn the saw when you get to the 90 degree turn.
b. Use your coping saw to cut out the lap. Cut the short depth first – it makes it easier to keep the cut even.
c. Sand everything so it’s nice and smooth.
Step 3: Cut the tension rod’s slot.
a. Mark out a rectangle 3/8″ X 5″ in pencil 2″ from the end of piece A – the opposite side of the laps – centered vertically.
b. Use the 3/8″ drill bit to drill a pilot hole at both ends of the rectangle. This will give the end of the slot a nice rounded corner.
c. Remove the blade from your coping saw and slide it through the 3/8″ hole. Fit the blade back into the saw and cut along the lines of the rectangle.
d. Sand to remove any burrs and slightly round the edges of the cut.
Step 4: Attach pieces B to A.
a. Apply a generous amount of wood glue to one of the lapped cuts in piece A and clamp one of B in place.
b. Use the 1/8″ bit to drill two pilot screw holes.
c. Use the 5/8″ wood screws to secure in place.
Repeat for the second piece B.
Step 5: Measure and cut recessed peg holes.
a. Measure out the center points for each recessed peg hole as shown.
b. Clamp your loom to your workbench. Using your 3/4″ flat wood bit, cut peg holes 1/4″ deep.
c. Use the 1/8″ bit to drill out the center point all the way to the other side – this is your guide so you know where to place your screws from the backside.
Step 6: Attach pegs.
a. Put a generous amount of glue in a hole, using a scrap block of wood to fit the peg all the way into the hole.
b. From the backside of the loom, use the 1 1/2″ wood screws to screw through pieces B and A and into pieces E (the pegs). Because of the pilot holes we predrilled, this should be a snap.
Step 7: Attach the base.
a. Clamp the loom down on its side. Put a bead of wood glue along the edge of piece D and line it up to the right edge of the loom.
b. Drill 5 pilot holes, equally spaced, and use the 1 1/2″ screws to secure it.
Step 8: Make the tension rod.
a. Mark the center point in the raw cut end of piece C. Hold it in a bench clamp or clamp it to your workbench and use the 3/16″ drill bit to pre-drill the hole.
b. Use the pliers to grab one end of the hanger bolt and screw it into the pre-drilled hole you just created.
c. Screw into place by fitting the hanger bolt into the slot with the washer and wing nut on the other side.
And that’s it. You are now a proud owner of your very own inkle loom! Now all you need to do is warp it and weave some amazing things.
Here’s a list of inkle loom resources I find useful:
One of my favorite YouTube tutorials is How to Warp and Weave on the Schact Inkle Loom by Jane Patrick.
Inkle Weaving by Helene Bress is a great book to get you going.
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Earth Guild’s Free Inkle Weaving Instructions
Beginning Inkle Weaving by Heather Heroldt has a nice list of other resources – scroll to the bottom of the page for her guide.
Sara Lamb’s post, Inkle 101, on her blog Woven Thoughts. It’s a really nice run-through of warping and weaving a basic strap.
About the Author:
Kristin M. Roach, creator of the popular website Craft Leftovers, is the author of Mend It BetterMend It Better (due out February 2012). As founder of the non-profit Ames C.art, she enjoys organizing community art programs and inspiring others to live creatively. Her designs have been featured in a variety of publications, including Interweave Knits, KnitScene, Craft, Make and the book Button It Up by Susan Beal. She lives in Iowa with her husband and a mini-farm worth of animals.