Inkle loom

Yeah, I know, Everyone has made an Inkle loom… this is just my turn 😉

My better half used to do a bit of card weaving back when she was in college and has several times mentioned that if she ever “had time” she would like to do some once again.

but she has no loom.

Thus when she went to visit her sister’s family for a weekend i did this:

first I looked for plans on the interwebs: there are a lot of them out there. many of them simply posted to the web and no one asking for money. so I looked at several and drew up my own plans. combining aspects of several designs into something nearly exactly like all of the other looms…

Then having plans, I went down into my dungeon.. I mean shop, and looked around for some appropriate wood. I have Maple, Oak, Beech, Purpleheart, and Poplar to choose from… then again I have this old plank of Black Walnut that has been sitting around here for years. I got it from a job, a very nice woman I had known since childhood,  had this drop leaf kitchen table she wanted cut down to a coffee table. and she asked me to hang onto the leaves (1″ x 14″ x 38″ Black Walnut). I did. She is gone now and her son didn’t want them back. I used one a few years ago on a very profitable little job. and the other has been sitting there…

Now I’m thinking… a lot of people make these and just screw the parts together, and the loom works just fine. Some folks use a half lap joint. If you don’t fuss too much it looks to me like you could make one in about a half a day.

So of course I decide to make this one with saddle joints, and the dowel rods have a step from 1″ dia down to 5/8″ diameter going through the frame (instead of just screwing through the frame) and are wedged on the backside.

I notice that on several but not all of the looms 2 of the dowels are spaced exactly right to use them to tie heddles on. so i do that with the top 2 on the “near” limb.

so here is what I worked from:

I actually ripped the main (long) beam 3 1/4″ and the 2 short ones 2 1/2″. drilled 2 holes for the ends of the slot and carefully sawed out in between.

marked the saddles with a bevel gauge and used the parts to define the opposite side.

I sawed the shoulders on the table saw and used a hand router (not powered) to clean out to depth, sawed the cheeks on the forked parts. and chiseled out the waste in the middle, made sure they fit together and glued it all up.


Then I had to use my 1″ dowel maker/rounder plane that I made years ago after reading about them in Roy Underhill’s book, I think it was “The Woodwright”s Shop”.

It takes a lot of twisting to make 1″ White Oak dowels.

After the frame had cured I put masking tape on the face and marked out the location of the dowels and drilled 5/8″ holes. I used a jig on the table saw to make the step, doing it on a lathe would have been safer (no I didn’t get hurt but trust me, it will be safer if you do it with a lathe if you ever need to do it). I used a back saw to cut a slot in all of the reductions and glued and wedged the dowels into place.

Clean up and scraped in a few spots (I wasn’t going to sand a hand planed face). used a knife to cut a tiny chamfer on all of the edges.

2 coats of clear Watco and we have…

The heddles get tied on the top 2 dowels of the front (left) arm, and in use go on the dowel that is in front of the arms on the main beam. Or the loom is used without heddles and with “cards” or tablets for tablet weaving.

Total time… 2 days

heh so much for a half a day 😉

be well



Geometry et Trigonometry

it was math so a lot of people didn’t pay much attention. and there was a lot of “I’m never going to need this” nonsense going on at my school…

But now you need it: well a little of it. you can do a lot with a little.

squares and circles: the geometric relationship between squares and circles is neglected in geometry class. Sure they point out that blah blah blah circle center of square etc. and most people didn’t listen.

look: it really is simple: and it really is useful!circle square 1

a circle and a square look like they have nothing to do with one another, look again:

circle square 2

if you bisect the angle your line (dotted) is the centerline of the circle. you can use this knowledge to make a center finder for turning on the lathe. or find the center on anything roundish. Or you can use this to make a center finder for your lathe stock.

the same basic principles apply to these also:

the center for this rough piece is somewhere in the middle of the triangle scratched on the end.

Also if your round is larger: on any right triangle if you center a circle on the center of the hypotenuse who’s diameter is the length of the hypotenuse the circle will touch the point of the right angle, so:

rotate the square a bit and do it again:

then the 2 lines cross right at the centerpoint.

jumping back to that first geometry: chairmakers (like Curtis Buchanan) uses it every time he drill his legs for his stretchers. See if the center of the circle is always in line with the center of the square…

circle square 2

if we make a 90 degree v cut in two blocks of wood exactly equidistant from the ends. and stand those blocks up. we get this sort of set up:


where, no matter what the different diameters are or how lumpy/fancy the turning is, straight rod or windsor leg, the centerline of the turning will be parallel to the bench top. so we can set an angle guide to help us aim our drill into the legs at the correct angle.

Here’s another one, you want a nice arc that is a part of a circle but you don’t know where the center of the circle is. or you don’t have a compass around…

put 2 nails at the ends and use your square…

circle square 8

if you slide the square, keeping contact with the 2 nails and a pencil in the peak, it will draw a circle.

Most of the trigonometry that you will need is just what Pythagoras knew. if you haven’t got a square or your object is really big enough that a square isn’t big enough. remember the pythagorean theorem. 345. as in 3″, 4″, 5″. or any measure. a triangle with legs of 3 units and 4 units and a hypotenuse of 5 units has a right angle between the 3 and 4 sides. See you don’t even need the squares or square roots or sines and cosines etc.

3 feet by 4 feet then 5 feet across the diagonal will make a right angle.

So you see: a little understanding of Geometry and even Trigonometry can help you with every project!

be well


Photo gallery

I’m sure there is a way to make up a photo gallery of my work here… I just don’t know how to yet 😉

rolling pin


advertising board for sign carving


door casing corner bosses

table and vase 002

mahogany settle

mahogany settle 001

bear and elephants

toys bowl 001

dartbord case


more on another day: be well all


Bartram’s Gardens

I went for a little walk today at a place called Bartram’s Gardens in the city of Philadelphia, PA. It seems that Mr Bartram was a botanist/horticulturalist that made his name selling and shipping seeds to people in Europe.


they have some bees


and some interesting buildings


and pleasant grounds,

might be a nice place for a green wood event?

be well



The Broken Tradition.

I am thinking of changing the name of this blog to “The Broken Tradition”

In part, our tradition of woodworking spans thousands of years into a past where stones were the cutting edge of technology (all puns intended)

The efforts of colonizing the Americas were at best sporadic and frequently poorly planned.. our early history is rife with stories of starving colonists, and under supported efforts.  Colonists who came with tools, but with no one who knew how to use them. Freezing in inadequate shelters and starving because they didn’t know how too “do” the farming.

We idolize the survivors for having figured it out for themselves… but this is where the breakage starts. We are very proud of “having no masters” to rule over us and tell us what to do. Or, more importantly, telling us we can’t do something.

The carpenters, cabinetmakers, smiths etc who “figured it out for themselves” wanted nothing to do with later colonists who wanted to establish the guilds here. And a lot of the better organized attempts brought either craftsmen under contract to train people then go home (back to Europe), or persons actively trying to get away from the restrictions of the guilds to a place where they knew those guilds held no charter.

Eventually, even in America, the tradition of “Masters” teaching apprentices held sway. There were no books, no schools. No other way. And yet no guild to see or oversee the training of apprentices and the making of “Masters”. So anyone could call themselves a master….

Then the Industrial Revolution comes along… Machines to do everything!

The hand tools and the skills got tossed out, and we all get turned into machine operators.

And all of the Masters stopped teaching because no one wanted to learn. And they took their knowledge and skill with them to the grave.

There is very nearly a 100 year gap between the end of handmade furniture and the advent of our current resurgence and interest in making things by hand.

So there is another gap between the end of making everything by hand and our resurging interest in making things by hand.

Yes, you can point to individual makers during those 100 years… But did you personally learn directly from them? And some of those makers had to have figured it out for themselves because they did not serve an apprenticeship, nor have a teacher to guide them.

The point is: a lot of knowledge and experience was LOST! Gone forever! The line of tradition, Broken!

We can recreate or recapture some of it (and we have). But that re-figuring is at best, just guessing. Some of our guesses may actually be Better than what was done in the past. Some may be not so much.

But we need to acknowledge that the tradition of father to son, master to apprentice, has been broken.

Having admitted this to ourselves should make it easier to accept that We do not know exactly what they did do “before”. We do know what they left behind. The handmade artifacts, the tool marks on those artifacts, the tools themselves, and a very few books.

From all of these things we all work to recreate what was done.

We do this for knowledge, we do it for history, but mostly we do it for fun! We do it for the sound of the hand plane swooshing along a board and the satisfaction of the handmade artifact.

Today we have the benefit of the extensive research that has gone into books that have been (and are continuing to be) written by the pioneers in Experimental Archaeology.

I would draw your attention to: Mr. Michael Dunbar (Windsor chairs), Mr.Roy Underhill (traditional woodworking and early American carpentry), Ms. Jeanie Alexander (primitive hand tool work, “how to build a chair from a tree”), Mr. Peter Follansbee (17th century New England Furniture). Mr Drew Langsner (swiss woodworking and chairmaking).

But none of our ancestors had books (a lot of them couldn’t even read).. The tradition of woodworking was “passed down”, an oral tradition. Saying that “none” had books is misleading.

Of the few existing books, Moxon, Roubo, Diderot, Fabian, et al. stand out in their attempt to record what was done.

So, I am thinking of changing the name of this blog to “The Broken Tradition”


Book Review

Well, I don’t need to teach woodworking classes anymore. There are a lot of great books on woodworking out there. But the new collected works of Charles H. Hayward (The Woodworker: The Charles H. Hayward Years: Tools & Techniques vol’s 1 & 2) available from Lost Arts Press is so complete that I feel that I may be redundant.The team at Lost Arts Press has done a great job at compiling close to 30 years of articles that teach everything you need to know, and then some.

If you do not yet know about Lost Arts Press, look them up. They have several very good books about woodworking.


The color even matches my reading chair!

be well