3D Printed Rigid Heddle Loom

I made a loom, and wove a scarf!

3D printed rigid heddle loom

I’ve always love the prettiness and feel of fancy dyed yarns, but have never been too tempted to dive down that rabbit hole since I really don’t enjoy knitting or crocheting. Recently I’ve been seeing weaving pop up around instagram (check out @jaceynotjc), and then talked to someone about it at Maker Faire in New York City last month, and I think I might be jumping on the yarn bandwagon.

Rigid Heddle Loom Scarf

I found a few 3D printed loom designs around the internet, and decided to go with this one from thingiverse. It’s not exactly what I think I’m looking for, but it seems to work well and now I actually have an idea of how rigid heddle looms work. It includes an 8 dent reed, which can be put together in 4″ sections (the design images include 4, which is what I chose to use, for a 16″ heddle). It took about $40 in supplies (about $20 of filament for the 3D printed parts and $20 in the wooden dowels and screws to hold everything together). The thingiverse info for this print doesn’t have much information for construction, but it’s relatively straight forward from the photos shown. If you want to build one from this file, the most useful info I have would be my dowel rod cutting dimensions. The design is somewhat modular so there is a degree of flexibility, but this is what I used: long dowels were cut to 26″ (7/8″ rods), the dowels for winding the front and end edges of the warp were 16 7/8″ (also 7/8″ rods), the two dowels through the heddle were 16″ and 16 1/2″ (7/16″ rods), and the tension dowels were 18 1/8″ (1/2″ rods). You also need short bits of 7/8″ rods to connect the winding rods to the braces. If I’d known how long they would be in advance and planned more efficiently, I could have gotten away with (3) 8′ lengths of 7/8″ dowel rods, (1) 8′ length of 1/2″ dowel rod, and (1) 8′ length of 7/16″ dowels. You also need about 60 of the #6 x 1/2″ wood screws.

3D printed loom

I printed everything with 3 perimeters, 2 solid layers on top and bottom, and 30% triangular infull. I had no problems with these settings in terms of tension or strength during warping or weaving. My printer is set up such that I get quite good dimensional accuracy. but I had a really tough time getting the dowels through my printed parts, and the pins for the brakes were never going to fit in their holes so I slimmed down the posts in blender. My opinion after having a chance to play with it are that many of the support structures would be just as easy, and much quicker, to create by drilling holes through wood than by printing them. I’m hoping to find time to work out a design somewhere between this one and some others I’ve seen online that comes together a little more easily and for less money – but need to find a chunk of time to work on it.

Woven Scarf

As far as the scarf, I used some basic yarn from a big box craft store and sort of just warped up what seemed like a reasonable amount – the finished scarf is 12″ x 48″. I used this video for instructions on how to warp, and ended up 3D printing a little hook shape that I drew up (something like a flat crochet hook) for pulling the yarn through the reeds. I used one of the extra dowel pieces and some scrap wood with a hole drilled in it as a warping post. I made shuttles out of cut up cereal boxes, but will probably get around to printing some sturdier ones before my next scarf. The scarf itself came together remarkably quickly – I made it in a day, during which I had plenty of other errands – so probably only about 4-6 hours of weaving (which is faster than I think I could ever knit anything!)

Wool Spinning

At Maker Faire, I also was taught how to spin yarn and sent home with my own spindle and chunk of roving, so now I’ve got that to play with as well. Maybe at some point I’ll get enough spun and plyed that I can make weave with my own yarn!

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