Easy Rocking Loom Bench You Can Build

In an earlier post I advertised my loom bench for sale.  I thought it would be nice to share the plans for it.  Only basic wood-working skills and tools are needed.  Take a look at these plans and try it for yourself!  I am indebted to ReedGuy for the idea, which I have modified because I don’t have his ability to make great mortise and tenon joints!  Mine has very simple joints that only require the ability to saw a straight line.

 

Rocking Loom Bench

©Diane G. Crowder, 2017[1]

This version of a DYI rocking loom bench was inspired by the one published on Weavolution’s group Home Built Equipment by ReedGuy on Jan. 24, 2012. At the time, I was weaving a rep weave rug, and my legs were having trouble depressing the treadles with such a tight warp.  I thought the rocking motions would give more “oomph” to my treadling, so I built my bench. It worked beautifully.  It can also easily switch between rocking and flat modes of use. The major differences are (1) my version does not have the through mortise and wedge construction of the cross bar, which is beautiful but beyond the skills of many amateur woodworkers, and (2) mine has a storage bin which serves as the cross bar but adds storage. Both versions are easy to take apart for storage or moving.

Below are photos of both benches.  ReedGuy’s is light maple, mine is walnut.

sd_bench6             KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

His is set in a low position, mine is set in the highest position ready to weave.  Note the squared-off tops of the legs with holes to hold/ move the bench.  That is better than my angled ends—not able to make good hand-holds.  Use his design for that.

Materials

We both used solid hard woods throughout, and I recommend that since you want a beautiful, as well as functional, piece of furniture.  Red oak is fairly inexpensive at big box home stores like Home Depot.  Other hardwoods are more expensive, but for this bench, you really don’t need a lot of big pieces.  I have had good luck going to cabinet/furniture makers and asking to look through their scrap wood piles.  Except for the top, none of the pieces of my bench are very big, and you can probably find beautiful scraps to make the rest.  Pay them something for the wood, but it won’t be much.  You can also use ¾” plywood or pine for the bench top, feet, and storage box pieces, but the legs and bench support MUST be hardwood, or the metal will wear away the wood over time and your bench will become unstable.

I am 5’6” and my loom was 40” weaving width.  Adjust the length of the bench for a narrower or wider loom, and the length of the leg pieces if you are much taller.  Here is a list of pieces. Note that the hardwood can be thicker as long as it is the same thickness for any given pair of parts.

1 bench top 9.5” wide x 35.5” long x ¾” thick

2 hardwood legs 3 ¾” wide  x 25 -35” long x ¾” thick[2]

2 hardwood bench supports 9.5” x 2.5” x ¾” thick

2 outer feet  3 ¾” wide x 9.5” long x ¾” thick

4 inner feet 3 ¾” wide x 3” long x ¾” thick

2 storage bin sides 3 ¾” wide x 26.5 up to 30” long x ¾” thick[3]

1 piece ¼” plywood for storage bin bottom to be cut to fit after dry fitting pieces (about 4.5-5” wide and 26-29” long)

Wood glue and clamps

4  ¼” hex head bolts 2” long, 4 matching wing nuts, 8 ¼” hole washers

8 1.5” #8 wood screws

Drill with 1/8” and ¼” regular bit and optional 7/8” spade or Forstner bit

Chisel or router

Saw (hand or power), and coping saw or power jig or band saw for cutting curve.

Varnish or finish of your choice

Assembly

  1. Start with the bench top and decide where you want the legs to come up through the top. ReedGuy placed his 3” in from each end, while mine are 4.5” in from each side because I wanted room to set down shuttles (which doesn’t work in rocking mode!)  Mark the center of the board at your chosen distance from the ends, then carefully measure and mark a rectangle as long as the width of your legs plus 1/8” and 7/8” wide. Use a router if you have one to make the hole.  Otherwise, use a drill and 7/8” bit to carefully remove the waste, and chisel to clean up the hole.  Sand carefully inside the holes and check to see your leg pieces come through them with a little bit of tolerance.  If you have a router, you can round over all edges including the bottom and top of the hole with a roundover bit.  Otherwise, soften the edges all around with sandpaper and work up to 220 grit sand paper on all surfaces.
  2. Next, using the same techniques, cut a hole near the top of the legs to use as a hand hold. (See photo of ReedGuy’s bench.) Do not round over legs yet, but you can round over the inside of the holes with a router.
  3. To make the bench adjustable in height, you need to drill a series of holes in both legs that must match each other exactly. The best way to do this is with a little jig made of a 2” wide piece of ¼” plywood or hardboard cut to the exact width of the legs plus ¾”.  I made the holes 2.5” apart on center. Draw a straight line on side to side on the plywood centered on the jig.  Mark across the jig at one end at the ¾” surplus edge.  Mark a vertical line across your center line 1” from the end and 1” in from the ¾” line.  If you have a drill press, use your ¼” bit to drill holes at these marks.  Nail or screw the ¾” surplus end to a little piece of ¾” scrap lumber to make an edge guide—be sure it is square to the holes line.  Here is a drawing of the jig before drilling holes.

 

  1. Using tape or hot glue, fasten your two legs tightly together with the ends lined up and the good faces together.  Turn this “sandwich” on its side so you are marking on the right side.  Remember the thickness of the bench top and a portion of the bench support must be taken into consideration when marking your holes.  Using a sharp pencil, carefully measure from the top of the legs down to the spot where you want the highest possible bench top to be, then do down the thickness of the top PLUS 1”.  Make your first mark there.  I used 1” increments, but you can use 1.5 or 2” increments if you like. Keep marking where you want the holes to be, down to the lowest point you think you want your bench to go (bench top 19” for ReedGuy,  15” for me) plus 1 ¾”.  If you are using a drill press, place a scrap piece of lumber on the press table, set the drill to go ¼” below the two legs, place the jig so the line on the jig matches the line on the side of the legs, and drill through both legs.  If not using a drill press, place scrap lumber on your work table and clamp the legs and scrap down so they don’t move, and drill as straight down as possible.
  2. Separate legs, and sand all surfaces up to 220 grit. Do not round over at this point.  Cut the pieces for the feet to size.  The length of the outer feet should be the same as the width of the bench top.  On the bottom of each leg, find and mark the exact center.  Do the same for the outer feet boards, marking the bottom edge.  Cover your work space with newspaper to catch drips under the feet.  Place the outer feet on the table with the outside (best) face down on the table.  Use a piece of scrap the same thickness as your feet lumber at the other end to support the leg.  Carefully line up the two marks with the outer face of the leg down, and use a square to ensure the leg is perfectly perpendicular to the foot.  Glue and clamp the legs to the outer feet.

 

 

  1. Place the 4 inner foot pieces on each side of the bottom of the leg, lining up the bottom edges with the outer foot pieces. Trim to size if necessary.  Glue and clamp with the best faces up.  Allow glue to dry overnight.  I sawed off the corners of the feet at a 45 degree angle to reduce weight. Sand feet to 220 grit. If desired, round over leg sides.

 

  1. Make bench support. It should be as long as the bench top is wide.  Unscrew your hole jig from the scrap of ¾” wood.  Ignoring the ¾” end, mark the center on the plywood between the holes and make a vertical line.  Choose the best face of the two support pieces and sandwich them good faces together with tape or hot glue, being sure all edges are even.  Mark a line down the exact center of the sandwich and align with the jig center so that the holes will be 1” down from the top edge of the supports.  Clamp jig to supports. Place on drill press table or work table over a sacrificial scrap to prevent tearout, and drill holes.

 

  1. Shape the supports for the curved rocking side. Cut a piece of paper the same size as the supports.  Fold it exactly in half and open it out to mark the center line on both sides.  Refold the paper. Before cutting, my supports were 2.5” wide.  After cutting the two ends were 1” wide.  I carefully hand-drew a curve on the folded paper, keeping it flatter in the center and  curving down to the 1” mark.  You want a nice smooth curve.  Once you are satisfied, cut the paper on your line, open it out, and tape it on the wood with the flat top on the edge where the holes are.  Trace around your curve with a sharp pencil or marker.  Use a coping saw (hand) or a jig or band saw (power) to cut just a hair outside the line on the wood sandwich.  Sand with 80 grit sandpaper to the line, then separate the two pieces and sand all surfaces to 220 grit.

 

  1. On inside faces of bench supports, use a drill bit the same size in diameter as the hex head of your bolts and countersink ¼” into holes. With the flat side up, insert bolts through supports from the insides and through the legs about half way up.  Put on a washer and wing nut and tighten to see if everything fits and the hex head doesn’t turn.  If it does, pull out and put a washer on the hex end and reassemble.  Slide on bench top to be sure it fits tightly but doesn’t bind.  Sand or file bench top holes if it does bind until it slides on easily.  Make sure legs are perfectly straight.  Measure length from outside face to outside face of legs to determine length of storage bin sides.

 

  1. Cut storage bin sides to length. Sand sides and plywood to 220 grit.  If using ¾” thick stock for legs, subtract 1 ½ “ and cut plywood piece to that length.  If you have a router, route ¼” grooves about 3/8” up from bottom edge of bin sides to hold bottom.  Cut plywood ½” wider than width of leg and insert into grooves.  Place storage bin on top of feet and align with legs.  Pre-drill holes for screws and screw storage bin to legs.  If you don’t have a router, screw bin sides to legs and measure width of bin.  Cut plywood slightly less wide than storage bin and use small screws to attach it to the bottom.

 

  1. Disassemble bench and finish with your choice of products. I used Minwax fast drying varnish applied with a cloth.  ReedGuy used shellac.  We both used wax, especially in the bench holes that slide over the legs.  Once dry, assemble your bench and enjoy!
  1. Feel free to use this design for yourself and to share with others (including photocopying for your guild, etc. Please do NOT publish on line or in other formats without my permission (contact me at liebcrow@earthlink.net.)

[2] This depends on your height.  ReedGuy’s bench can be set with the bench top at 29”, which means the legs are at least 35 inches for my design where the legs go down to the floor.  The highest setting on mine is 21.5” high.

[3] The actual length will be determined after you decide where to place the leg holes in the top of the bench.

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