weaving looms

Weaving Looms-Which One is Right for You

by Cheryl Moreo

Rigid Heddle Loom, Table Loom, or Floor Loom: Which weaving loom is right for you?

Before I go into the differences/similarities of the weaving looms, let me give you a comparison.
These three vehicles are all modes of transportation but require different exertion levels on your part.

Weaving Looms-Which One is Right for You 20
Rigid Heddle Loom
Weaving Looms-Which One is Right for You 21

A bicycle will get you where you want to go, but you must peddle your way and allow sufficient time to reach your destination. The rigid heddle loom will weave cloth in plain weave or with manipulation of the warp threads and the heddle or with a second heddle can weave more complex patterns. Weaving requires more time and effort by the weaver.

Weaving Looms-Which One is Right for You 22
Table Loom
Weaving Looms-Which One is Right for You 23

The moped will get you to your destination faster without as much exertion. A table loom has a more complex setup, but once warped, you can speed along weaving.

Weaving Looms-Which One is Right for You 24
Floor loom
Weaving Looms-Which One is Right for You 25

A car is more complex but speediest. Likewise, the floor loom has a complex setup but can handle a longer warp and more complex weaves.

Ok, I think you get the idea. Now, I will explain how each loom functions


Rigid Heddle Loom Parts
Weaving Looms-Which One is Right for You 26

How the rigid heddle loom works:

A rigid heddle loom consists of a frame with notches on the bottom so it can be propped up against a table for weaving, or a stand can be purchased for weaving. The loom frame has notches to hold the heddle. Some looms have notches for more than one heddle.

Slots & Holes
Weaving Looms-Which One is Right for You 27

The magic is in the heddle. It has 3 functions: making the shed, establishing the sett (number of warp ends per inch [epi]), and beating in the weft.

Notice that the heddle has slots and holes. These heddles work exactly as the heddles found in a table or floor loom. The heddle rests in the notches on the loom frame. There are three positions: Up, Neutral, and Down.

Warping the Rigid Heddle Loom

The loom is warped with the heddle in the neutral position according to your pattern with a thread in each slot and hole. Warping can be either direct or indirect. With direct warping, you measure the warp and thread the heddle simultaneously. Indirect warping involves measuring your warp on a warping board and threading the ends into the appropriate slots and holes in the heddle.

Weaving on the Rigid Heddle Loom

With the loom warped, you lift the heddle, throw your shuttle, and use the heddle to beat in your weft. Next, you push the heddle down, throw your shuttle, and beat the weft with the heddle. This method is called plain weave.

To weave other than plain weave requires manipulation of the warp threads with a pickup stick or configuring for a second reed or stick with string heddles. Some weavers love these extra challenges. Not all rigid heddle looms have enough room in the frame for additional heddles.

Rigid heddle looms are the most compact of all of the looms. Some rigid heddle looms may be folded with warp on the loom.

Rigid heddle looms can be found in a wide range of widths from 8” to 48”.

See my comparison of Ashford and Schacht Rigid Heddle Looms.


Table Loom Parts
Weaving Looms-Which One is Right for You 28

A table loom is like a floor loom, but you use your hands to work the shaft levers instead of your feet to lift/lower the shafts with the treadles.

The loom is warped by measuring the warp on a warping board. Then, you can warp the loom using either the front or back methods. This method takes more time and care than the direct method used on a rigid heddle loom.

With four or more shafts, the weaver has all sorts of pattern capabilities just by how the heddles are threaded and the shafts are lifted/lowered. With a pickup stick, the weaver can still manipulate the warp threads for design work.

The looms range in width from 12”- 32”. They usually come with 4 or 8 shafts, and more shafts may be available.


Floor Loom Parts
Weaving Looms-Which One is Right for You 29

Floor looms can be found in all sorts of configurations. There are folding floor looms.

There are three main types of floor looms: Counterbalance, Jack, or Countermarch

My comments will be about the Jack loom. The Jack loom is the most popular here in the United States.

Instead of levers, the Jack floor loom has treadles. You warp your loom and tie the treadles to the appropriate shafts/harness called for in your pattern.

It takes time to measure your warp on a warping board. To warp your loom (front or back method), thread the warp through the heddles on each shaft, thread through the dents in the appropriate-sized reed, and fasten to your front beam rod. Next, tie the appropriate shaft to the corresponding treadle per your pattern.

Now, you are ready to weave.


The weaving looms that I have used the most are the rigid heddle loom and the floor loom. I have also used the table loom but found I never could get a good rhythm with it, as you have to lay your shuttle aside and work the levers for the next shed.

My most used loom is one of my rigid heddle looms.

On my rigid heddle loom, I have woven traditional items, such as tapestry weaving, and used the loom to hold my card weaving.

For more complex or larger projects, I use a floor loom. I also use it when I need a really long warp or lots of one type of item. A rigid heddle or table loom cannot hold as much warp as a floor loom.

In conclusion, which type of weaving loom is right for you depends on what you intend to weave, its portability, finances, and available space.


Weaving Looms-Which One is Right for You 30

Bestseller No. 1
Ashford Folding Table Loom 8 Harness 32 Inch
  • Portable multi-shaft weaving.
  • Overhead beater with elastic cords provides a wide weaving shed.
  • Castle folds flat for easy transport.
  • Front-mounted harness levers with light and easy action.
  • Lacquered.
Bestseller No. 2
Schacht Cricket Loom 15″
  • 15″ Weaving Width
  • 8-Dent Reed Included
  • Includes: 8-Dent Reed, Threading Hook, Warping Peg, Table Clamps, Two Shuttles and Two Balls of Yarn.
  • High Quality Maple – Apple Ply and Hard Maple, Unfinished
Bestseller No. 3
Ashford Weaving Rigid Heddle Loom – 32″
  • Affordable and versatile.
  • Quick and easy to warp and weave.
  • Portable.
  • Natural Unfinished New Zealand Beech Hardwood.
  • Includes: Reed nylon 7.5dpi, 1-22 inch natural shuttle, 1-30 inch natural shuttle, step by step instruction booklet, threading hook, warping peg and clamp.
Bestseller No. 4
Folding Table Loom 4 Harness 24 Inch By Ashford
  • Portable multi-shaft weaving
  • Overhead beater for best weaving shed
  • Castle folds flat for easy transport
  • Lacquered
Bestseller No. 5
Four-Shaft Table Loom
  • Hardcover Book
  • Field, Anne (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 184 Pages – 04/14/1989 (Publication Date) – Unicorn Books & Crafts (Publisher)

Last update on 2024-04-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

2 thoughts on “Weaving Looms-Which One is Right for You”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top