Peggy’s Weaving Tips > Warping drum: Part Three

How to Beam a Warp with a Warping Drum
Part Three

Since I hadn’t used my drum in years, I found this information necessary and complete. I was glad I had it to refer to. I beamed my warp onto my loom-not onto a wall-mounted beam winder. I used my homemade drum. If you have a commercially made drum, directions for using it are in Book #2, Warping Your Loom and Tying on New Warps,beginning on page 144.

Setting Up the Tension Rope and Long Cord on a Homemade Drum

The tension rope

On a homemade drum the tension mechanism consists of a strong rope and a weight. It is similar to the automatic weight controlled warp tension system described in the Automatic Warp Tension System chapter. One end of the rope is attached to the frame and the other end is attached to a bucket or can to hold weights. This rope is wrapped around the drum 1 1/2 times (without the rope crossing on itself). The can with weights is on one side of the drum. The opposite side of the drum is both where the rope is attached to the frame and where the drum is anchored to a wall. There are strong eye bolts on the drum for attaching it to the wall. See figure below. Disengage the drum’s tension rope until you are ready to beam on. Do this by lifting off one turn of the rope so the drum moves freely.


The long cord

Weaving with a Warping Drum C
Weaving with a Warping Drum C

Wrap the long cord around the drum in the direction the drum will be turned-so that its free end hangs from the same side of the drum as the can of weight. The figure here makes this clear.

Weaving with a Warping Drum A
Weaving with a Warping Drum A

Winding the Warp from the Warping Reel onto the Drum

Start with the threading-lease end of the warp

With the drum’s tension rope disengaged and the reel’s brake engaged, take the threading lease and end loop off the reel. Remove a peg or the whole board of pegs, if necessary. Attach the threading-lease end of the warp to the drum cord. On my homemade drum, I have a loop at the end of the long cord. I slip this through the warp’s end loops and then make a lark’s head knot by pulling a bit of the drum cord through the drum cord loop. Then I put a small length of dowel or a yarn tube in the pulled-up loop to hold the lark’s head to make the connection.

Twist the warp into a “rope” to eliminate sags

Stand behind the drum and begin to pull the warp off the reel by turning the drum (like a ferris wheel). Soon you’ll see sags form in the warp. To eliminate them, twist the warp lightly in the direction that keeps it in a firm, rope-like mass as you turn the drum. This is to take up the slack as it forms. Notice when you turn the warp as in figure, the twist in the warp is in one direction on the right side of your hands and is in the opposite direction on the left side. The twists are held in place as the warp is wound onto the drum. When the warp comes off the drum, all the twists come undone; so you don’t need to worry how many or how few twists you’re putting in. The point is just to keep all the threads tensioned and free of sags as you pull the warp off the reel and onto the drum. You’re not keeping the warp tightly tensioned, just well under control. During pauses when you stop turning the drum to twist the warp “rope,” keep the tension on the warp. If you allow allow excess slack, you’ll find the warp difficult to control while you twist.

Weaving with a Warping Drum D
Weaving with a Warping Drum D

The reason the sagging threads appear, is that the top part of the warp “rope” travels a greater distance than the underneath part of the warp “rope” as the warp goes around the drum.


Setting Up for Loading the Raddle

When you’ve transferred all of the warp to the drum, the raddle lease is available for the next step. See figure below. Move the drum near a table and untwist and stretch out the final yard or so of warp across the table. Insert lease sticks in the raddle lease and tie them together as usual. Put the end stick in the end loop and secure it with string tied from one side to the other of the end stick as usual. Remember, it is essential that the loops be secured on the end stick. If you lose the loops it is frustrating to retrieve them.


Load the raddle as usual

Weaving with a Warping Drum E
Weaving with a Warping Drum E

A little weight on the drum’s tension rope keeps the drum from unwinding while you raddle and set up for beaming. Be sure to tie the raddle cap in place as usual.

Anchor the Drum

Move the drum as far away as you can-at least 15 to 30 feet from the loom’s warp beam (or wall-mounted beam winder). See Figure 178. Anchor it firmly so that it is perfectly immobile and can withstand the high tension during beaming. Use eye-bolts mounted on the drum to tie it to matching bolts mounted into wall studs, or rope it to a strong bar that spans across a window or door frame, or any other method that is strong. See figure. Anchor the loom in an equally solid way. The center of the drum must be perfectly on center with the loom (or wall-mounted beam winder).

Weaving with a Warping Drum F
Weaving with a Warping Drum F


Bring the Warp to the Loom or Beam Winder and Position the Raddle

Take the end of the warp and the raddle to the loom, keeping it under control with light tension on the drum’s tension rope. Unwind and untwist (if needed) enough warp until you’re able to set the raddle in position. To untwist the warp, you have to pivot the raddle end for end a few times until no twists are visible from the drum to the loom. The remaining twists and untwists work themselves out during beaming. Secure the raddle with the warp centered on the loom (remember that the loom’s brake may take up room on the warp beam, so the center of the loom may not be the center of the beam).

Tie the End Stick to the Apron

Just as in “plain” beaming, tie the end stick to the apron or drop it into its beam slot. If you use the beam slot, turn the beam one full turn to hold the end stick in place; then check to be sure the end loops are properly settled (see “Adjust the End Loops” in the Plain Beaming chapter). Set the loom’s brake so the beam won’t unwind before setting the weight on the drum.

Engage the Drum’s Tension Mechanism

Your drum provides heavy weight and good, perfectly consistent tension that doesn’t change in the least throughout beaming. This is what gives you the tight and uniform warp package you’re working for. More weight is needed for wide, heavy warps than for thin, narrow ones.

Homemade drums

Engage the tension rope by placing the rope so it encircles the drum without crossing on itself. You know the rope is going around in the right direction if the can of weight hangs over from the top of the drum and on the opposite side of the drum from where the rope attaches to the frame. Often just the braking power of the rope is enough for the high tension desired, and no more weight is needed in the can. The warp should beam on smoothly but require some muscle to turn the beam. Too much weight and the beam won’t turn.


The above tip is an excerpt from Book 2: “Warping Your Loom and Tying On New Warps”

Leave a Comment