Prototyping box looms

Ok, so I talk a lot (mostly) about green woodworking. and mostly about using hand tools. But for the better part of 30 years I was all about power tools and such. Not at home so much but at work. I still own a table saw and band saw, a 12″ planer, an OSS, a lathe, a 4″jointer, etc.

Add to this; I like to make the equipment that other people use to make things with, like potters wheels, looms, book presses etc. So when a¬†friend tries to convinced me that I could make good money making box looms. And that no one is providing nice little box looms to the weaving community at large. I have to give it a go. after all I need the money. (don’t we all?) I have never made a box loom before.

So we did some Research on line to see what was out there, and how much other people were asking for them… not much and too much.

The results of the research visually:

loom box tapea

many of the makers list their box looms as being sold out, and they have been sold out for a long time…

At its simplest it is a box, doesn’t need a bottom, two sides about 4 to 5 inches tall and 12 to 14 inches long and connected by 2 pieces that separate them about 5 inches. and 2 rollers to unwind the warp strands and wind up the finished weave.

and then i see something like this, and the “artist” is asking $200 for it. It was made of Pine. it had a headle with it.

loom box tape

but is that, made of pine, “worth” that much money?

granted it will probably take a whole day just to make a headle. but if I can’t make something at least as nice in half a day…

And a lot of these weavers want to use them for tablet weaving… or so I’m told.

so off to the shop (aka my cellar) find some wood that I can use up and see what I can do…

1 day later

I quite like these two shapes. I sloshed some BIN primer on them so that we are not looking at the wood but at the form etc. realistically the one on the right only takes about 1/2 hour longer to cut out and sand.

Each one took less than a half day. Right off the top I will tell you that I think the solid bottom is better because you can drop your weaving stuff (shuttle, comb etc) into it and not worry about where it got to. the one on the left is more like some medieval illustrations, but not exactly like any of them. The one on the right is very like a form that was popular 200 years ago in some Scandinavian region…

I’ll send them to the weavers tomorrow for test runs.

be well


Whittling Whistles and Thingamajigs

When I was young, my parents had a friend named Gold. He wrote a book. This book is probably the basis for my attitude to woodworking. but more importantly the first paragraphs of the Intro to the book ( I reread it over Christmas at my parents house) is, if anything, more pertinent today than it was back in 1974 when the book was published.

From “Whittling Whistles and Thingamajigs” by Harlan G. Metcalf;


WILL HISTORY SAY OF THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES THAT they had the daring and technological know-how to reach and walk on the moon but failed to use their God-given intelligence to find ways to keep their own land and planet inhabitable by human beings? It is evident that the degradation of our environment has reached such proportions that the survival of our children and their children to come is at stake. Somehow people everywhere must be persuaded to take the steps necessary to make their continued existence on earth possible. But how can this be done?

Love is the key. People do not consciously destroy or pollute the things they love, but rather preserve, protect and nurture them. The more people learn to love the natural world around them, the better will be the chances of protecting all life on earth. One of the best ways of inculcating this love is to teach as many citizens as possible (especially youngsters) the art of making useful and /or beautiful objects from natural materials by hand or with hand made tools without depleting the supply of those materials.”

The book covers whistles and spears, attle-attles and whammy diddles, bows and arrow, making your own string or cordage from things you find growing around you. There are no power tools mentioned,most of the work could be done with one knife. But it’s attitude about nature and about making things has influenced what I do to this day.

find the book in your local library

be well

Green woodworking and Blacksmithing

Along time ago, way back when I started woodworking (in the middle ages, when rocks were soft etc), making furniture from trees is what I wanted to do. No, not the chainsaw carved logs that resemble the furniture the Flintstone’s would have owned. But nice stuff like Windsor chairs et al. Many of the tools were either not available or they were available used but in really poor condition. I realised that if I wanted to work like this I would have to make some of those tools myself. Then one summer the local community college offered a 1 week introduction to blacksmithing seminar. Needless to say I jumped at the chance to learn some iron work to help me try to make tools.

Since then many of the tools have been brought back to the marketplace by other people who felt that there was a need and found that they were good at tool making. So we owe them a debt of gratitude for bringing back Spoon Bits and Travishers and Hook tools and all of the other odds and ends of tools that had been lost to the industrial revolution.

While I think that I am good at making tools for myself, I do not feel the need to make hundreds of them and sell them. So I continue now and then to do a little metal work to make tools for myself.

So this past summer I spent a lot of time casting brass, forging steel, and generally making things to make things with.

If you are seeing too much metal work for your liking on my site, well this is why.

I’ll get back to wood real soon.

be well


PS: Blacksmithing itself is a worthwhile hobby if any of you are thinking of trying it. You get the metal hot and hit it hard! And it’s playing with fire. ūüėČ there are a lot of great videos on you tube, everything from how to setup your first forge to “pro” techniques like how to make a rose or a dragon’s head,¬† pattern welding etc etc.

if I had a hammer

Hi just banging out a couple of hook tools to try to encourage me to use the springpole lathe I built last year. need to be polished and then tempered, I just finished and hardened them, 3/8″ oil cooled drill rod.

the more I try at this forging stuff the easier it seems to get.



be well


Green Woodworking (musings on the term)

Hi again:

Green Woodworking: What is it? is it Green industry? is it sustainable? is it ecologically friendly? What is it that makes it so Green?

The same sort of woodworking is alternatively called: Country Woodcraft, Primitive woodcraft, Sloyd, and a whole slew of other titles. Green woodworking can be anything from carving spoons and whistles, to making Windsor chairs and other high quality handcrafted furniture.

To understand what Most people mean by it you have to look at the harvesting of the tree. When a tree is first cut down, it and it’s wood, is referred to as being “Green”. It is full of water (40 to 70% by weight depending upon species) in the form of Sap in the tubes and interstitial water inside the lignin and cellulose structures. It practically splashes when you start cutting it. It continues to be called green until most of this water is gone out of it.

Thus primarily Green Woodworking is working with the wood while it is still wet. Or at least starting to work it wet.

We use saws to cut lengths, then wedges and a froe to split it down closer to useful size. Then we use some sort of hatchet or other chopper to clean up the raggedy split faces and to bring it closer to the sizes of the parts we want. Then all of the green wood crafts diverge… Spoon and bowl carvers go one way, bowl turners another, furniture makers go their own way etc. etc. But it all starts with a tree freshly cut.

Is it Ecologically Friendly? Not necessarily, but it usually is. Most Spoon makers use a lot of what other people would call “yard waste”. Branches and tree removals yeild a large quantity of raw material for many Green Woodworkers. And as such prevent that material from just being buried or burned as trash.

And many of the other sorts of Green Workers also make extensive use of yard trees and logs gotten from Arborists and Tree removal services. I myself included. So since we use up a lot of wood that is otherwise wasted it is definitely ECO-Friendly.

Is It sustainable? to answer that we have to look carefully at the terms “sustainable” and “sustainability” and what they mean.

Sustainability is all about carefully using our resources without over using them, or straining the ecology of that resource. As such, nearly every human endeavor can be made “sustainable”.

Fishing is sustainable if we don’t take too many fish, Lumber is sustainable if we don’t cut the trees down faster than they can regrow. Oil and Coal are not sustainable because there is only a limited amount and what is there does not get replaced by natural processes, and once we have used them up they are gone forever.

If we (all) were to all decide tomorrow that we all had to eat off from wood plates and drink from wood cups and all of our furniture and all of our toys etc. had to be hand made from green wood, it would be a disaster. Just providing all of that woodenware and furniture would require clear cutting the planet, including all of the tropical rainforests.

But if, instead, we use the trees that are going to be cut down anyhow (city tree waste) and make useful items for others to enjoy, then it is eminently a “sustainable industry”.

be well


Project “more than I can chew” part 2

When pounding on iron, it might be a good idea to STOP when your arm is so fatigued that you can’t hit it where you want to…

I took my pile of iron and steel scrap and I have made a “stock knife shaped object” (SKSO?).



into this:P1010901

like I said, I only claim it is an object that is sort of the right shape. I was careful not to ruin the temper on the steel blade. So, I need to polish the edge , put a handle on it and see if the hardness of the edge is sufficient. If not I will have to make a LONG forge fire to re-harden the steel then into the kitchen oven to temper it.

Handle next!

Be well!


Project “more than I can chew” comenses

Hi; if you know me, you know this isn’t unusual. if you don’t know me, then you will come to realise this is so: for this week’s episode of “biting off more than I can chew”, I am looking at old leaf springs and my little forge…

What I want to end up with is a stock knife.


what I’m likely to end up with is a POS, and I don’t mean point of sale.

so here is my starting point:P1010876

yeah, it looks like trash, but starting points nearly always do. some truck leaf spring, some re-bar, an old hook. I keep not using the hook because someone else hand forged that.

and here is my ideas sketch:

stock knife

on all of the old ones the handle drops to a point at or below the cutting edge, I think that this is to give better control of steering the cut.

Some (but not all) of the ones I have been looking at have the hook also drop down to at or below the edge, some of that may be 100 years of sharpening. But I think if you consider how that pressure against the tool works you can see that if the bottom loop were below the edge that would keep the blade lined up in tension, but if the loop were above the edge there could be a tendency for it to flop over when you don’t want it too. which would get worse as you moved the hook up further. So I am going to go with a low hook. It also keeps the pivot point right near the edge.

You can’t see it in the sketch, but it is drawn curved in length to just about match the curve of the spring. And also I have it drawn with a knife edge. A clogger’s main Stock knife has a single bevel (away from the clogger), but I am not making a clogger’s knife I am making a smaller stock knife for multiple uses.

lets see how this goes…

be well