New Loom Information & Care
Wood – it grows on trees
There’s a lot to this subject so I’ll try and keep it concise.
Where’s it from?
We only use Yorkshire (preferably) or British hardwoods. All our Ash, Beech, Elm and Oak is from an old style, traditional, North Yorkshire sawmill where the timber is air dried for several years. Occasionally they have other timbers available in small quantities. We sometimes use other British suppliers further afield, Walnut from Hampshire, Maple from the Lake District etc.
Specifically we do not use pine for looms as it's essentially a non durable softwood which was most likely grown anywhere from Northern or Eastern Europe to Canada. It’s cheap and can be bought from any DIY store or builder’s merchants. Basically, it lacks character.
We do however use softwood 6 & 9mm pegs and for a good reason. A pine peg will adjust to the loom, whereas a pine loom will more likely adjust to the peg. Softwood pegs may also be refreshed (expanded), whereas hardwood pegs can't. Pegs are cheap and easy to replace, looms cost more.
Moisture in wood
Most growing trees consist of about 1/3rd (33%+) wood and 2/3rds water.
There are 2 ways of reducing moisture content once the timber is cut into planks.
Air drying outside in a wood yard will over time reduce this to 15-25% water content dependent or storage conditions. We then have to rack it up and store it indoors for several months (depending on thickness) to reduce the moisture even further. Only then can it be worked properly.
Commercial timbers such as pine are Kiln dried, many tons at a time, to rapidly reduce the moisture content. This uses a lot of energy and stresses the timber reducing its' strength. For a commercial environment intent on cost saving, this makes sense.
Air drying allows for the natural stresses in the timber to slowly adjust, ultimately producing a better product. If you're in doubt about whether kiln drying produces better wood, visit an antique dealer. None of their wood was ever kiln dried.
Wood will always seek to establish an equilibrium. If very dry it will reabsorb some moisture, but only if allowed to. Likewise if you inherit a piece of antique furniture you may note shrinkage of panels and looseness of it's joints within a few years because it has been relocated to a dryer atmosphere than it was previously used to.
Movement in wood
Given a chance, wood can twist, bow or cup, expand or contract to greater or lesser degrees for several reasons. Wood needs to be cared for.
A loom may be used almost anywhere, but when it comes to longer term storage
* Avoid storing your loom in potentially damper environments such as conservatories, cellars, lofts and outdoor buildings.
* Avoid proximity to localized heat sources such as radiators, open fires or log burners, Conservatories in Summer or leave in full sun for prolonged periods.
* Store your loom flat (not leant against a wall), in a cooler room in the house. This will reduce its chances of moving excessively. Maybe place a weight on it to.
Being a natural product some movement is to be expected, you may not even notice it, but it can and will happen to a degree.
We work with the timber and seek to find the best in every piece. We don’t provide factory like mass produced loom clones.
If it’s irregular, has natural knots on the loom edge or face, an attractive waney edge or other features we’ll use them all. It’s character, every loom is different, every loom is special.
In making looms we first look for “features” and grain in every new plank. This then determines how the plank should be cut not only to minimise wastage but to share its best aspects between the looms it will produce.
Some modern tools are used to saw lengths and drill precise holes. The rest is done by hand. Some of the equipment we use is Victorian (the steel is so much better). Final sanding and oiling are done by hand.
The oil seals and feeds the timber and can transform a fairly ordinary looking piece into a real work of art revealing wonderful grain and tonal shading. Ours is always a voyage of discovery. Oil also minimises the further absorption of moisture. We use natural (not boiled) Linseed oil. Over time timber can look a little dry or dull. A gently wipe over with a little more oil is good. Leave to stand and dry for a few hours then rub down with kitchen roll or cloth to remove any excess. Beech Cherry and Elm absorb oil very quickly. Ash and Oak are slow drying. If the oil was applied with a cloth, dispose of it in an outside bin. Linseed left on a screwed up cloth can spontaneously combust.
A quick note on pegs
Most will fit perfectly but there might be one awkward one that's a bit tighter. With a new loom don’t force the pegs right down into the holes. Time and use will ease all pegs. With continued use pegs will become a little looser as over time the peg base diameter will compress a little and become polished.
9mm Wooden pegs: These are generally a consistently uniform diameter and rarely present a problem. However there may be one or 2 in need of gentle persuasion. Initially if tight, wrap your fingers (damp for best grip) around the peg firmly and rotate the base in the hole. It may just be a little bit of sawdust in the way. You will then find most will now be a good fit. If a few are still slightly difficult only then would we suggest a very light sanding of the lower part of the peg. Our past customers say that they feel that they have then taken charge of their loom.
One or 2 pegs higher than the others in the loom? This is because there's a wood chip fallen into the hole. This can easily be removed with a slim probe such as a needle. It's a good idea to turn the loom over and give it a slap on the back (something we do when making them) as this can also dislodge a little dust or wood chips.
6mm Nylon pegs - We no longer supply these. Over the last year (21/22) the manufacturer's price has risen over 100%. All wooden pegs are more ethically sound and better support our principals.
"10% extra 6mm wooden pegs (with a minimum of 5 per loom)"
6mm wooden pegs Apply the same techniques mentioned above. Be gentle. 6mm pegs are a little less consistent in their diameter varying by +/- 0.2 -0.3mm. This is down to the manufacturer's machining process with smaller diameters being a little more difficult for them to handle. As a result there will be a few more tight pegs. Additionally they require more gentle handling and we include 10% spare pegs just in case one or 2 are accidentally broken.
Sticky peg? The dowel manufacturer applies a label to each 2.4m length. Unfortunately this means that about 1 in 20 may retain a little adhesive residue. We get most of these but occasionally one gets past us. Methylated spirits will remove the adhesive.
Spare pegs We have always supplied these in packs of 10 but you can order any number simply by contacting us directly.
Producing up to 2000 pegs a week, with the best will in the world we can't check every peg but only do our best.
Timber is a natural product and subject to many influences such as natural internal stresses and external storage conditions. We can not guarantee any loom’s perfect stability once subjected to conditions out of our control.