LOOM FAQS

We've compiled a list of the most commonly asked loom questions below. If you are unable to find the answer you're looking for, please send your questions to help@harrisville.com.

General Loom Questions

Every loom Harrisville Designs has ever made will have the HD logo stamped on the left castle upright.

Harrisville Designs has offered loom kits since we started building them in 1972. This decision was based on a Scandinavian tradition in which weavers would assemble their own loom to understand fully how it operates. We feel this empowers the weaver and provides them with the knowledge to resolve issues that may come up. Offering a kit also allows us to keep the purchase and shipping price more affordable and make the barrier to entry for weaving lower.

Each loom kit comes with a thorough and easy to read assembly manual. The skills needed to assemble a loom include sanding, use of a screwdriver and hammer, and following instructions. An extra set of hands are useful at some stages of assembly, but are not necessary!

All of Harrisville Designs's floor looms are jack looms, meaning they rely on the weight of the harnesses to create the bottom part of the shed, and rely on the treadles raising the harnesses to create the top of the shed.

The Harrisville Designs's rug loom is a countermarch loom. Peter Collingwood and John Colony decided to make the rug loom countermarch (as opposed to counterbalance) achieving an unbalanced weave.

First, you must locate your loom's serial number. To do this, follow these steps:

1. Face the back of the loom (side opposite the treadles).

2. Locate the lower back castle brace (lowest brace that runs parallel to the ground between the castle uprights).

3. On the right-hand side, look for a serial number imprinted on the top of this brace.

For a time, the serial number nomenclature consisted of three things: model, last two digits of the year made, and the loom number. For example, A 76 123. This serial number would indicate the loom is the 123rd Model A made in 1976.

If your serial number does not look like this, please call 603-827-3333 or email help@harrisville.com to have our loom specialist look it up for you.

There are three things you need to determine what model loom you have: the weaving width, the number of harnesses, and the number of treadles.

To determine your weaving width: measure the width of your harness between the harness ends.

Once you have determined these three things, please use the table below to determine your loom's model:

Harrisville Designs is happy to provide basic information about our looms but does not assist in loom reselling. For the most accurate information regarding loom pricing in your area, please reach out to your local weaving guild.

Almost all Harrisville Designs looms have been made from hard rock maple. HD experimented with a cherry loom for a period of four years, and under 100 were sold during that time.

Harrisville Designs has produced floor looms with two kinds of brake systems: ratchet and pawl brakes and friction brakes. After 1980, all Harrisville Designs looms were outfitted with friction brakes.

While ratchet and pawl brakes are fail-safe, the weaver must be more careful when advancing or risk unwinding their warp.

Friction brakes require less steps to operate and allow for finer-tuning adjustments when advancing. If you have a 22" or 36" loom with a ratchet and pawl style brake, you can upgrade to a friction brake using the Friction Brake Conversion Kit.

Many early Harrisville Designs looms were "direct tie-up", meaning they were outfitted with an equal number of harnesses and treadles. While this style of loom is easy and intuitive to learn on, it can be cumbersome to treadle when weaving more complicated drafts.

Adding two additional treadles allows more than one harness to be tied to each treadle. This allows for easier treadling and opens the weaver up to more complicated drafts.

Adding two additional treadles allows more than one harness to be tied to each treadle. This allows for easier treadling and opens the weaver up to more complicated drafts.

We'll use the plain (or tabby) weave as an example:

A plain weave is achieved by lifting harnesses 1 and 3 for one pick and harnesses 2 and 4 for the next. With a direct tie-up loom, this is done by using two feet to treadle for each pick. With a multiple tie-up loom, harness 1 and 3 can be tied-up to one treadle and harness 2 and 4 to another. This means that only one foot is used to treadle for each pick.

Our older 22" and 36" direct tie-up looms can be converted to multiple tie-up using our Treadle Conversion Kit.

We recommend that you take steps to examine and tune-up your loom before every project. Here are a few things to check for:

1. Be sure your harnesses are hanging at about the same height. If not, you can move the s-hooks connected to the harness cables up or down the corresponding adjustment chain. You can also adjust the copper collar on the harness cables, then move the two cable lengths in opposing directions until the harness is level.

2. Be sure that all harness and lamm cables are sitting on their corresponding pulleys (refer to your loom manual to see how they should look). If not, follow each cable back to its harness or lamm and move it back to the correct pulley (be sure not to twist cables in the process).

3. Check that all nuts and screws are fully tightened. There are a few fasteners that should be left loose enough to allow the piece to move freely (such as the brake pedal, pawl, brake bar, etc.).

4. If any moving wooden parts, such as pulleys, start to stick or squeak over time, you can use spinning wheel oil as lubrication. A needle nose applicator is helpful to fit in tight spaces.

Loom Replacement parts

First, you will want to purchase a loom manual for your model loom. The loom manual contains a master list of parts, what they are called, and a labeled diagram. This will assist you in determining the part you need.

If you still cannot determine what the part is called, please email an image of the part to help@harrisville.com.

To order replacement parts not listed on the website, please call 603-827-333, or email help@harrisville.com. Please have the weaving width, number of harnesses and treadles, and part name on hand.

Yes, our woodshop offers loom refurbishment and tune-ups, but the price and timeframe depend on the condition of the loom and the loom shop's schedule. You can start by sending photos of the loom and a description to help@harrisville.com and we will work to get a quote back to you as soon as possible.

The oil that Harrisville Designs uses is a special blend of linseed oil and mineral spirits, which can be purchases directly from us (via phone order) in a ¼ pint or ½ pint can. To order the oil, call 603-827-3333. Other weavers have recommended tung oil which can be purchased from your local hardware store. The most important consideration when refinishing your loom is to sand all existing finish off each piece before applying more.

If the rod in your warp or cloth beam is tapered at the end, you need an old-style crank handle. If the rod is all one diameter with a notch through the center, you need a new-style crank handle.

The castle must be taken apart to replace pulleys for the harnesses or the lamms.

We offer three different types of tensioning devices that vary based on the style beam the jaws will be clamped to. Harrisville Designs looms have a slanted back beam, so our original tensioning device jaws are designed to conform to the angle.

Many other looms have flat back beams (for example, Glimakra, Macomber, Leclerc, Dorset, and Ashford) so we have designed tensioning device jaws to fit those as well. We also offer a tensioning device we've designed specific to Shacht's Baby and Mighty Wolf looms.

Weaving Questions

Check that your treadles are in the proper orientation. They should sit directly under the lower back brace. Cord lengths and the treadle holes they run through are custom fit to ensure that the pulleys they run to are in the correct orientation.

To move treadles into correct orientation:

1. Unfold your loom and secure and tighten back metal braces with wingnuts. Do NOT secure front metal braces at this point.

2. Hold the front and the back of the loom and gently rock it backwards.

3. While loom is still back, press down on all the treadles at once.

4. While treadles are down, gently rock the loom back into its original position.

5. Secure front metal braces.

If brake is not moving:

The first thing you'll want to find out is what type of brake you have: friction brake or gear brake. Harrisville Designs switched to the friction brake in 1980.

1. Try cleaning the groove with a file.

2. If the cables are old, the rubber could have degraded and gummed up. We suggest buying a new brake cable.

3. Your tension could be too tight, especially with a less elastic fiber like cotton. You'll need to put the warp under greater tension to achieve a good shed, but a friction brake will not work under too much tension. Try weaving with looser tension to see if the brake function improves.

4. Sometimes the brake is working but the beam and drum have separated.

a. To diagnose, using a pencil, draw a line that extends onto the wooden brake drum and warp beam.

b. Engage the brake and turn the warp beam.

c. If the pencil line does not stay together, it's likely the pins holding the beam and brake drum together have sheared off. The warp beam must be replaced at that point.

5. Check that the spring is hooked correctly to the bell crank or brake bar. If not, be sure it hooks from the inside to the outside.

If the brake/beam is slipping:

1. The brake may have been installed incorrectly. You'll need to determine whether you have a hand or foot brake.

a. Brake bar or bell crank should run parallel to the floor.

b. Can make minor adjustments with the wingnut

i. Should test it with each couple of turns.

c. Nylon brake cord should run inside of the spring

d. Can also adjust with the chain

2. The disc maybe too smooth and cause the cable to slip

a. Could try to rough the disc with a file

3. The cable should not be crossed in any way

4. The coil is old and lost power and should be replaced

5. Some people choose to glue sandpaper in the groove. This will wear down your brake cable over time. Also, sandpaper will wear down quickly

Tension Issues

1. The warp may be tied on incorrectly to the back apron rod. To solve:

a. Try untying and then retying the warp to the apron rod with the rod in the correct orientation.

b. Can unscrew the warp beam, bring it up and over the back beam, then re-install.

2. To improve your shed:

a. Your beater comes with two grooves that allow you to adjust the size of your shed.

b. To increase the size of the shed, lift the beater off the pins and place back on pins in the deeper groove.

Harness Issues

1. Make sure the cables haven't jumped on the wrong pulley.

2. Try adjusting the copper collars on the harness cables to level the harnesses out.

This occurs when the warp is under too much tension. Warp threads with a jack loom sit below the breast beam due to the weight of the harnesses. When the wrap is under a lot of tension, the warp threads will pull the harness toward the front of the loom. Try weaving with looser tension to lessen this occurrence.

Still have questions?

Please don't hesitate to reach out to us with your loom questions. Send us a message at help@harrisville.com and we will respond as soon as we are able.