Last weekend, I was visiting a friend in Orangeville and her suggestion for a weekend activity was for us to each build a triangular loom or a tri-loom.
I’d been wanting to make one since April, where I saw a shawl at an alpaca show made on a tri-loom. It was gorgeous and the folks at the booth said it had been quite easy to make once the loom was set up.
Intriguing. Very intriguing…but somehow I didn’t manage to get a picture of the shawl in question. Not sure how that happened as I typically take pictures of EVERYTHING. 😉
Anyway….so when my friend suggested making looms, I was completely on board and oh, so excited!
NOTE: We aren’t carpenters, so our process isn’t exact by any means 😉 We wanted to have fun and make looms so we measured some things and other times just went with our gut.
For those of you who, like us, would love to have a pretty-much triangular-shaped frame with a bunch of nails in it to try a bit of inexact weaving, this is for you!
For those of you who are Capricorns and detail-oriented like me, you’ll still have fun…but your head my explode a lil bit. 😉
We did some research before heading out for supplies…I had a number of websites already bookmarked that offered advice and tips on what to do and what NOT to do…very important.
Wayne Schmidt’s Triangle Loom Page – fantastic reference page, written in plain English and covering his process as he figured out how to make his loom
Instructions for Triangle Looms – I’m a math and logic kind of person so I found the graphs at the bottom of this page really helpful. They show you how to line up the nails and help you visualize why the side nails are closer together than the nails along the hypotenuse.
Building a Wood Tri-loom – We didn’t fit together our frame with notches as shown on this site but again some of the photos and tips were quite helpful.
2 – 2x2x8 knotty pine (one 48″ piece and two 35 or 36″ pieces)
1 – pkg of 1 1/2 finishing nails (bought a box of 500 and used approx 300)
1 – pkg of wood screws (used three, one in each joint) They were 3″ screws if I recall correctly
We spent some time before heading out to the hardware store, trying to figure out exactly what we needed. Our process wasn’t completely exact but it worked out quite well!
I promise not to get deep into the math of the whole thing (honestly, I had to keep stopping myself from getting too caught up in the details lol) but I’ll share our thought process.
We decided that we wanted a loom that was approximately 4 feet (48″) along the top.
For the math folks, to get the remaining two sides, we squared 48″ (2304), divided it in half (1152), took the square root of that….which gave us approximately 34″ per side.
At the hardware store, we bought some lengths of 2×2 knotty pine and got one of the folks working there to cut us two lengths of 48″ and four lengths of 36″. We made the sides a little longer so we would have some extra to play with.
We also purchased some screws, finishing nails, and a hand saw with a mitre box, as we didn’t have access to an electric saw. If YOU do, use it. So much faster! 😉 (Although we did get a good workout sawing the wood so if that appeals to you, hand saw it!)
Upon returning home, the first thing we did was to lay out the pieces to see the rough shape of the loom.
We fit the side pieces together at the bottom as that was the most straightforward angle at 90º and screwed that together.
Then we laid the longer piece on top of the two side pieces and drew lines where they intersected = two 45º lines. (Remember my comment about not being perfectly exact….yeah, that.)
This is where the hand sawing came into play and having the mitre box made all the difference! We really got into it! lol
Next up, marking the nail holes. This was one of the longest steps. First I marked a line all the way around 1/2″ in from the inside edge and where the lines intersected at each corner, I drew a dot for my corner nails.
Next, I laid a measuring tape out between the two corners, along the hypotenuse and starting making dots every 1/2″. I ended up with 91 nails (93 including my corners).
Here’s where it got a little complicated. From what I have read, the number of nails on each side should be the same as the hypotenuse. As the sides are shorter, that means the nails end up closer together but that can be difficult to measure out because it’s typically a really odd measurement.
There are ways to use a t-square to mark the nails down the sides and you’ll find those methods explained in the websites I listed as resources up above 😉
I didn’t have a t-square (actually we DID but we didm’t know it! lol) so I got creative and used a thin, long rectangular piece of panelling to line up my nails. I measured straight down from each nail on the hypotenuse and marked the spots along the sides. This only gave me half the nails I needed so I then added additional marks halfway between each of the original marks to double the number of positions for nails.
Again, not counting the corners, 91 nails down each side. The first side measured out perfectly whereas the second side somehow gave me only 89 marks so I fudged the measurements a bit to add two more.
All the websites I read on the subject of tri-looms suggested that we pre-drill the nail holes to ensure the wood didn’t split. The nails are quite close together so splitting is a possibility. Up to you whether you pre-drill or not.
I did. Couldn’t help myself. I wanted to use the drill!
As you can see, the marks aren’t perfect but they worked! One website had suggested staggering the nails slightly up and down instead of in a straight line to reduce the chance of splitting….so yeah, um, that’s what I did. On purpose. No straight lines here.
My response? “I have no idea…but I’ll let you know when I figure it out!”