How to Make a Handmade Navajo Weaving Loom

Written by toni rakestraw
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How to Make a Handmade Navajo Weaving Loom
Weave a Navajo rug on your own loom. (Indian corn, goards and blanket image by Allen Penton from

Making a Navajo loom is something most people can accomplish in a couple of hours. Your loom can be used to make rugs, blankets, throws and wall-hangings. Place the loom out of the way against a wall when you don't need it. The loom is light enough for almost anyone to move by himself.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 4 2-by-4s, 9 feet long
  • 1 dowel rod, 1 inch by 4 feet
  • 2 dowel rods, 1 inch by 3.5 feet
  • Saw
  • Drill
  • Drill bit, 2.5 inches long and 1/8-inch diameter
  • Screwdriver
  • Wood screws, 2.5 inches long and 1/4-inch diameter
  • Scissors or knife
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • 100 feet of cotton clothesline

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    Making the Loom

  1. 1

    Lay out your 2-by-4s. Pick the two straightest boards. Measure and mark these two boards at 6 feet and cut. This gives you two boards measuring 6 feet each and two that are slightly shorter than 3 feet long. Now get the two uncut 2-by-4s. Measure and mark each of these two boards at 4 feet and cut them. Take the two longer portions and measure them at 4 feet and cut. This gives you 4 pieces that are 4 feet long and two pieces that are slightly shorter than 1 foot.

  2. 2

    Lay out the two 6-foot boards on the floor so they are parallel. Select two of the 4-foot boards and lay one at each end of the 6-foot boards. The 4-foot boards should be on the outside of the 6-foot boards, so the ends of the 6-foot pieces rest on the ends of the 4-foot pieces. Drill two pilot holes on each end of the 4-foot boards going into the 6-foot boards. It is handy to have a helper who can hold the boards steady while you drill. Screw the boards together. Lay one of your remaining 4-foot boards flat across the top portion of your loom. If your frame is laying flat on the floor, this piece should be about an inch below the top of your frame, forming a gap. Drill two holes through this new piece into the 6-foot sides and screw it into place. Lay the last 4-foot length on top of the frame toward the bottom, positioning it 4 inches above the bottom crosspiece. Drill two holes on each side through this board and into the 6-foot side pieces. Screw it into place.

  3. 3

    The 3-foot boards will be the feet. Turn your loom frame on its side. Line up the centre of the foot with the side of the loom that is up in the air as well as you can and mark where it will go. The bottom of the foot should be flush with the bottom of the frame. Drill three pilot holes and then screw the foot into place. Repeat for the other side. Set the loom upright on its feet.

  4. 4

    The dowels will be your tension and warp rods. Use the cotton clothesline to attach the tension bar (4-foot dowel) to the 2-by-4 board fastened at the top of the loom in front of the frame. Tie a knot on one end of the 2-but-4 and bring it down behind the dowel, under and up in front of the dowel. Wrap the line over the top of the 2-by-4 and down behind it, coming from behind the dowel and under, then up on the front in a repetitive pattern until you reach the end. For a 4-foot-wide loom, this pattern should be repeated three or four times. Tie the end off in a knot around the 2-by-4. Use the same pattern to hang the top warp bar (3.5-foot dowel) a couple of inches below the tension bar. Repeat to secure the bottom warp bar on the top of the 2-by-4 secured across the bottom of the loom.

  5. 5

    When finished, your loom will look like a large, upright wooden rectangle. The tension bar and top warp bar will hang near the top while the bottom warp bar is located at the bottom. When you are preparing to weave, the warp will be wrapped between these two bars, creating a vertical wall of yarn strands. The weft will be woven between these vertical strands to create your project.

Tips and warnings

  • If your loom will only get occasional use, pine is a good choice. If you think your loom will get constant use, you may want maple or cherry instead.

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