Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Some assembly required: attaching a sectional warp beam to the Glimakra Ideal

After getting the collapse scarves off the loom, I could work on upgrading the warp beams. There was nothing wrong with the existing warp beams, but I lusted after both a sectional warp beam and a second back beam, and I was able to indulge myself. It had taken some researching and effort to find a supplier, but I discovered that it is possible to obtain both for a 100cm Glimakra Ideal. I'd gone as far as contacting Glimakra directly to deal with them, but at literally the last minute Fibrecrafts UK came in with a quote cheaper than ordering directly from Glimakra - the difference in paying UK VAT and Swedish VAT.

The sectional warp beam kit consists of a number of pre-drilled wooden planks, and a whole lot of metal dividers to seperate the warp. That, together with a few screws, is it. It doesn't look like a lot for the money you pay, but I had made the decision that I like what Glimakra stand for, and that it was worth paying the money to support them and to keep my loom standard.

The dividers are simply thin metal rods, bent so that they're slightly longer on one side than the other:

These are placed into the slots on the beams long end first then short end sqeezed into the other side, and hammered in. I did this with a scrap of wood and a wooden mallet, to reduce the impact on the dividers. I laid the wood over the dividers already in, to keep them all about the same length. Resist the temptation to only hammer them in a little, you're going to have to hammer them in about 1/3 of their length for them to clear the back beam. I also did this on the carpet of the living room, to reduce the impact on the wooden floors of my studio.

The first few in, an awful lot more to go:

Here's the four wooden dividers, screwed to the warp beam. Normally, if you just buy a sectional warp beam kit, you'd be screwing this to your existing back beam. In my case, I'd also bought a second back beam kit and because the existing back beam is perfectly functional with a cloth apron and I wanted to keep that intact, I chose to screw the sectional warp kit to the new back beam. You can buy sectional warp beams with 1" or 2" divisions. I work a lot with fine threads and wanted increased design opportunities, so I opted to go for 1" divisions.

You'll note in the image above that there are some dividers missing at the right side of the beam. There was a miscount when the dividers were supplied, and I found myself short by 6. I contacted Glimakra and the lovely people there were most apologetic, and had the extra dividers in my mailbox within a few days. The other thing to note in the image above is the holes in the warp beam for the cloth apron. Because the beam is octagonal, there is a right way and a wrong way to attach the sectional planks, if you wish to retain use of those drill holes. The right way is offset from the as you see above. There are no holes drilled in the warp beam for attaching the sectional planks. You could drill them, but because the screws are self-tapping, I found this unneccesary.

Next came disassembly of the loom. Most people won't have to pull it apart too much to get the warp beam out (in fact in theory it's possible to attach the sectional warp planks to the back beam while it's still on the loom), but because I wanted to remove the existing warp beam and replace it with the new one, I had to disassemble the ratchet side of the loom. After removing the old back beam, I could insert the new sectional beam.

All that was then left to do was to replace the back breast beam, handle and chocks. You can certainly see in this picture where the pawl for the ratchet normally sits!

Finally, it was necessary to sit behind the loom and gently rotate the sectional warp beam, marking any dividers that were too tall to clear the back breast beam, and hammer them down to a suitable height. I had been very conservative with my hammering at the earlier stage, wanting to maximise the amount of depth I could roll a warp, which meant that I spent a log time hammering at this stage to get all of the dividers even and to the correct depth.

And it's as simple as that! The honeycomb dishcloths was the first warp I've put on the sectional warp beam, although I did that by hand rather than using the tension box. I found that the back breast beam was slightly too wide for the tension box, so I wound each 1" bout of warp individually on my warping mill and ran each one onto the beam, tensioning by hand over the castle as I went. It worked.

Another time, I'll post about using the tension box and also attaching the second back beam to the loom. Fitting the second back beam to the Ideal is not as simple as the sectional warp beam, because I've discovered that there isn't quite enough real estate for it to bolt on as designed - and there also isn't enough real estate for the second back breast beam and the tension box to all fit on at once either. There will be some retrofitting to be done.


  1. I am fascinated by how you beamed on with the sectional beam. It seems to be just as easy as using spools and tension box, or am I missing something. In fact, it seems to me that if you weighted the bout as you wound it on, and used the same weight for each bout, that you would end up with at least as perfect a warp as you would get with the spools and tension box. But I may be well missing something here. And then I am wondering, would this be a better way to beam on then tradtional B-2-F?

  2. Hi Peg,

    It's not that you're missing something, but that I was being lazy!

    As I'd not yet got the tension box up and running, this was effectively a compromise between my normal B2F beaming technique and sectional beaming. It was really only designed as an interim measure.

    It was definitely just as easy as spools and a tension box, but because I didn't take the care one should with thread spacing, I didn't get the threads to sit as evenly and flatly as they would with a tension box. I gambled that I'd get away with it because this is a short warp, and I have. It would be a very different matter with a longer warp.

    I plan to beam my next warp directly from cones using the tension box, so I can then compare the techniques. However I'd definitely beam the warp this way again, and think that with a little more care it would be perfectly possible to beam a perfectly tensioned warp using it.

  3. That loom of yours is really beautiful. A work of art in itself, not to mention what you do with it!

  4. Thank Connie, I think it's pretty attractive too!

    It's all Swedish pine of course, and age has turned it a beautiful honey colour. The new parts has really reinforced how the original wood has mellowed with age - hopefully they'll blend in soon.

  5. Clever Glimakra; I recently purchased their hoop raddle which uses similar components to those used in their sectional warp beam. The (oh so heavy) hoops are well designed, in that the short and long ends facilitate the easy assembly of the hoops into the holes but also ensure they don't slip out.

  6. The fourth photo looks like torture machine, but congrats for your sectional, I think. (I've never watched how it works so I'm being deliberately vague, you understand...)

  7. I've never seen the hoop raddle, k., but I'm sure it's an engineering marvel.

    It does make the Medieval torture device live even more up to it's name, doesn't it Meg?!

    I had a friend share a room with it for a night last week, and he was being teased the night before by friends who are in on the joke about being in "the torture room". The poor lad wasn't quite sure what he was in for!

  8. I may be missing something in my reading, but I am lost as to how you attach the yarn to the sectional beam in order to wind it on and have it actually stay there!

  9. It's done by tying the bouts in each section in an overhand knot, and attaching these to lengths of thread tied to the sections. Bear with me, I'll post photos tomorrow.

  10. great!! I look forward to seeing them.