Peggy’s Weaving Tips > About the warping drum: Part One

A Very Useful Device: The Warping Drum
Part One

I used my drum this month and with it, beamed on a perfect fine silk thread warp (96 epi). I haven’t used it in years, but realized I needed it when I beamed on a previous silk warp the conventional way without it. The second warp beamed on with the drum has woven off dramatically wonderfully compared to the first warp.

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

A warping drum is optional equipment and not at all necessary to put a well-tensioned warp on a loom. It is another item from the European workshops for production weaving. Many weavers have never heard of this useful, but space-taking tool.

The warping drum’s main function is to hold the warp perfectly on tension while you beam by yourself. See Figure. It is also a secure way to store the warp between measuring and beaming. The drum is mounted on its side like a marching band’s bass drum, and as you beam on, the drum provides mechanical, perfectly consistent tension from start to finish-its muscles never tire! Although commercially made warping drums are available, homemade ones are not difficult to make. [Watch for next month’s tip on how to make your own.]
There are two steps to using a warping drum: first you wind the warp onto the drum as it comes off the warping reel. Then after loading the warp into the raddle or warp comb (drawing-in comb), you wind the warp from the drum onto the warp beam.

Weaving with a Warping Drum B
Weaving with a Warping Drum B

A warping drum takes real estate in your studio. It needs to stand about 30 feet behind the loom (or wall-mounted beam winder) during beaming. The greater the width of the warp, the more distance that is required. A 60″ wide warp may need double that amount. The distance can be around 15 feet for narrow warps. If the drum is too close, the warp forms too steep a triangle, which makes the center threads more slack than the edge threads, just as if you were holding the warp yourself too close to the loom. See Figure.

A wall-mounted beam winder is a rack, or bracket, that holds the warp beam during beaming and is used instead of beaming with the warp beam in the loom. If used with a drum, it can give you more versatility in arranging a studio. The drum and winder can be at opposite ends of a hallway, for example, with the loom (or looms) in another room.You may never have the studio space to use a drum for 60″ wide warps, but using a drum to beam on a 40″ wide warp might be reasonable, especially if you can use a hallway (or driveway). Of course, you can store the drum any place in the studio, you only need to clear space when you are beaming.

In addition, the drum must be exactly centered with your loom and anchored securely (e.g., to studs in a wall) to withstand the tension required for beaming.


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

This is from the chapter devoted to the warping drum, beginning on page 143.




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