Why vertical? Warping mill . . .

I have been giving a lot of thought to the design of a warping mill, as it seems it should be a lot faster than a warping board.

I want it to be easily dismantleable, and am thinking of using broom handles and slats for the rotating part, with a longer broom handle for the pivot. If I make it horizontal, AFAICT apart from the legs, which will be fine as individual units kept intact, it should be possible to assemble it simply by poking the broom handles through the appropriate holes. If I was to try this vertically, I would have to fix everything into place, or the broom handles would slide down and out. Being vertical also makes balance a bigger problem, and you'd need to make a better bearing, and how would you actually support it upright in the first place?

All in all, it seems horizontal would be so much easier, that I can't see why anyone would even try to make one vertical. I must be missing something . . . ?


Posted on Mon, 03/19/2012 - 15:06

I think people have also reported finding the vertical ones easier to use.  But I have neither used either, so I'm hoping someone else will reply about their actual experience!

Posted on Mon, 03/19/2012 - 18:03

Like this. It's out of Worst's "Foot-Powered Loom Weaving". Nothing is glued, except the dowels in the arms and the lap joint at the base. A little wax on the surface where the bottom cross makes slight contact as well as at the bottom of the central shaft to take the squeek out. This is after you have applied finish. I added a collar with a set screw on the underside of the stand there near the top, tightens onto the shaft so you can pick the whole thing up to move. It's not needed, you can leave it out but you will lift the whole top with shaft out of the stand. It turns easy, I have a video on youtube. But in the video I hadn't added the wax, so it's squeeks.

Posted on Mon, 03/19/2012 - 15:49

This is a beautiful warping mill. I have a Leclerc floor model warping mill and I really enjoy using it. But it sure takes up a lot of room, even when it is folded together.

Your model looks very well thought out! I know you will enjoy it!

Vicki Allen

Posted on Mon, 03/19/2012 - 16:13

If a horizontal reel is of a usable size, you may find that you are bending forward when you use it.  Your posture is probably much better with a vertical reel.  You can simplify the design of the vertical reel if you find a beam or some place in the ceiling to attach the center pole. 


Posted on Mon, 03/19/2012 - 18:15

I hadn't thought about bending, but actually, a horizontal one offers more scope for being made to the right height. With a vertical one you constantly have to bend down and straighten/reach up. I don't think you should need to bend forward, I've not seen anyone reaching around (the equivalent action) on a vertical one. 

That is very elegant Reed Guy, and point taken about 'bearings', but how much does it actually come to pieces? There may not be much glue, but I see lots of screws. Mine (assuming it works) will dismantle easily to five poles, four slats, two bars with pegs and a pair of multipurpose legs.

Hopefully, it is as Laura suggests, simply a matter of space, but for me, the amount of space it takes when set up is far less important than how much space it takes up when not needed. If I ever get too tight on space to set it up indoors for an hour or two, I can always take it outside!


Posted on Mon, 03/19/2012 - 22:04

When using hard maple, sometimes you get to see something like this. Ray fleck.

These are eye, but more dimple-like because they are so small. It was not graded as figured because it's not large eye and throughout the piece. This was in the base of the reel on one end.


Then this, which is curl. Have to watch while sanding because it's not
planer marks and could cause one to sand like crazy and get nowhere
except creating a big dip in your piece. Often when this occurs in a 
small spot it was caused by a limb crotch or knot. But sometimes it's highly figured throughout the piece as what we call tiger stripe or curl or quilt. Different figures like these are common in maple, sometimes more so in certain regions. About 12 years ago a local woodlot yielded a hard maple log with birdseye with very sought after figure. The buyer paid $1600 for the log. It was 12 foot with a 19" top end diameter. Yielded about 200 board feet.

I didn't select the pieces in the reel for figure. It was just "what turned up" from the pile of lumber I used.

Posted on Mon, 03/19/2012 - 22:01

Yes screws. Have to hold it together some way. But on the arms and such just one screw per connection and the base has screws for the 45's, but you'd never want to take that apart anyway. Mine you can't take the centrla pole out because I spliced two dowels there into a larger diameter dowel. But in the book it was one long dowel same diameter. I don't know if you could get a dowel that diameter. But I know they have 8 foot dowels in 1 " at the local store and as a matter of fact I can make a 1" dowel as long as the lumber I cut the blank from. This is more like 1-1/2" dowel if I recall. 1" dowel , 8 foot, ain't cheap in the store, can't imagine a 1-1/2". :D 


I was thinking, to afixe your broom handles, just design it from the ground up. Have the ends of the dowels cut down a size, from say 1" to 3/4" diameter and  for as thick as the crosses are. Insert one end to the bottom cross and then place the top cross over the top of the broom handle/dowel or don't drill the holes in the crosses all the way through. Ayway, your going to need some heft to the outfit to be stable if you go vertical. With the broom handle you have one end already threaded, so if you had a tap for that diameter broom you could screw the handle into the cross members.  I have a thread box here and taps for up to 1-1/4" dowel as I recall. So I could even thread the other end to and tap a thread into both crosses. I wouldn't go buying a Beall thread box and taps unless I was adding it to my inventory of useful shop tools. A one time use is just a silly purchase.

Anyway, by the time you make a stand to hold it horizontal, you would be further ahead vertical because less wood and I don't think any less compact. What wil you do with the frame for the horizontal mounted reel? It's a lot more building. I assume your thinking of storage if your worried about how it's held together.

Posted on Mon, 03/19/2012 - 20:31

I was able to purchase a used AVL horizontal warping mill over 15 years ago.  Love it.  I have my cones in a holder on the floor-large, round metal eyes are screwed into the ceiling where I insert the yarn,and then thread it to the mill.  No back problems - nice arm exercise and walking back a forth.  I can make a 50 yard warp if I want.  Usually do 30 yards.  I tried to add pictures - the one was cropped too much.  


Posted on Mon, 03/19/2012 - 21:48

With a vertical one you constantly have to bend down and straighten/reach up.

I would like to comment on this.  I wind warps for towel kits that I sell.  My guide string is 8 yards long.  I use a vertical, 3 meter reel, 10 feet around.  I like to have the rounds at least 6 to 8 inches apart so that I can wind fast.  As I wind, the top end is about 7 inches above center and the bottom about 7 inches below.  So, there really is no bending or reaching up until you are winding a really long warp.  My reel can wind at least a 60 yard warp and then, of course I would be reaching up and down.  But, I can wind my 400 plus ends, towel kit warps in 20 minutes.   So, for an average warp, the vertical reel is a lot faster. 

Reels are certainly better than the frames and I understand the need for this kind of discussion when one is considering which to make or purchase.  I purchased a used horizontal reel once and in a very short time I made it into a vertical.



Posted on Mon, 03/19/2012 - 22:15

Vertical or horizontal depends on how you plan to use it.  Here is my home-made vertical warping mill.  It is assembled with wing-nuts and breaks down in seconds to fit in a canvas bag about the size of a gym bag. 

It's fast, but not as fast as my warping wheel, which is horizontal but mounted on a raised stand and feeds the threads directly onto the sectional warping beam ready for threading.  Here's the wheel:

It doesn't break down (much) so it pretty much stays at home. 

Posted on Mon, 03/19/2012 - 22:12

As I indicated in another post, I cut up my warping frame to reuse the board to make my vertical mill. It`s not fancy and does the job. I did have to buy 4 eyebolts and wingnuts. Lay out dimensions on paper for the crossmembers to give you 1 yard diameter or 2 yards circumfrence. I used a paint roller extension with the metal thread tip. That tip will stick into a half deep drilled hole in the top cross board. I glued and screwed 5/8 inch wood dowels to the cross board and made the "braces" with 1/2 inch pvc pipe and used eyebolts and wingnuts to make them clamp the dowels.

Posted on Tue, 03/20/2012 - 12:24

I am not even remotely qualified to discuss this topic, but I thought I would just mention my experience with my warping mill. I built (with very limited woodworking skills) a vertical warping mill. Though it worked well enough, I found that my shoulders could not handle the up and down arm movements for any extended time. So I reworked the mill to be horizontal and found it was much more comfortable doing side to side movements. This may not be a factor in anyone else's decision, but I just wanted to mention it as a consideration.


Charlestown, IN, USA

Posted on Tue, 03/20/2012 - 14:12

I use a horizontal warping mill and love it.  Very easy to use and I would not trade it for anything.

If "bending over" to use it was a problem, one could easily elevate it by putting in on a table or putting something under it to raise it to a comfortable level.  As a matter of fact, I would argue that it is easier on my back than a vertical mill because I am not bending up and down as I am winding warp.

The only valid argument I can see for going with a vertical mill is that it would probably take less space, but my horizontal mill folds for storage and has never seemed overly obtrusive or hard to work around as far as space goes.

I would also think that designing and building a horizontal mill would be a little easier project than a vertical mill.

Good luck!

Posted on Tue, 03/20/2012 - 14:32

This is just a funny anecdote for vertical warping mills.  I get car sick and when winding long warps on my vertical, I have actually had to take breaks while warping because it makes me sick to my stomach when spinning.  I have a large floor model LeClerc, love it because one round is 92".  Long warps are so quick.  Even a scarf is one revolution.  It does take up a lot of room.

Posted on Wed, 03/21/2012 - 22:58

Yes, ultimately, choice of tools is always a matter of personal preference, sometimes tempered by other factors. A discussion of other peoples' preferences is particularly valuable when you have no experience to base your decision on. Thank you all for contributing, you have given me a lot to think about. In paticular mrdubyah's use of wingnuts opens up a whole bunch of possibilities I would not have thought of otherwise. Thanks again. :)

Posted on Thu, 05/10/2012 - 17:23

I like the sound of a horizontal warping mill.  Can anyone suggest the type of bearings to use at either end of the central shaft?

Posted on Thu, 05/10/2012 - 19:44

in the Worst book, Foot  Power Loom Weaving.  No roller bearings are used.  And I have used many different reels and none of them had any bearings.   They twirl around almost too fast, faster than one can handle it, so there probably is no need for bearings.


Posted on Thu, 05/10/2012 - 19:53

Thanks Joanne. Not sure that I will be able to obtain the book that you refer to in the UK but I'll try to find it . My concern was about excessive wear if a wooden shaft was rotating in a wooden hole.

Posted on Thu, 05/10/2012 - 20:22

I have wound over 700 warps for my weaving kits and I don't see any wear.


Posted on Thu, 05/10/2012 - 21:23

Mike, put some furniture wax on the points of contact. If your going to add a finish to the wood, put the finish on first then the wax. The wax will reduce friction and squeek.

That old book is a gold mine as far as I'm concerned. ;)

The Arizona website, as far as I recall only has excerpts of the plans and the images are not as sharp as the full book on the internet archives. I found it hard to read the dimensions. If you find it that way to, you can snag the full copy here.



Posted on Thu, 05/10/2012 - 21:47

Thanks ReedGuy and Joanne. The help and time given by Weavolution members never ceases to amaze me. What a great community to belong to.

Posted on Tue, 11/15/2016 - 04:18

I'm warping towels, have put 13 yards on my horizonal mill. My dent is 10 epi, and I need to know, can I cover my previous threads?  I have separated every ten threads. Please help. I can't find any printed info on warping mills, reels ?  Please help....

Posted on Tue, 11/15/2016 - 15:55

Put a guide string on the reel before you start and make it tight.  Then, as you wind your warp, try to stay within an inch of the guide string.  If you wander away from the guide string, the length of your warp ends may change.  One normally piles the warp when winding.  You cannot wind quickly or accurately if you carefully place each thread against the last one. 

However, divide your warp into bouts.  I seldom make a bout which is more than 8 or 10 inches of the weaving width.  So, if I am making a towel which is 24 inches wide at the reed, I usually wind three or four bouts.  You will not have an accurate warp if you make wide bouts.  And, you might benefit from looking at my warping book, Learning to Warp your Loom.


Posted on Wed, 11/16/2016 - 00:05

Not sure what you mean by separating every ten threads.  Usually, you separate the threads into raddle groups with a raddle cross or tied raddle groups (slower).  You don't make groups by separating the threads. as Joanne said, you need to keep the threads tight to the previous thread or the guide thread. 

Posted on Sun, 07/16/2017 - 14:56

I just finished building a warping mill, using a lazy Susan from IKEA as a base. What I did was changing the small circular base into a larger more sturdy square base and mounted the IKEA piece on top of that. The shed cross is removable and can be height adjusted. The mill is collapsible sideways for easy storage and transportation. I drilled a hole into the side of the base plate, so I can fasten the mill using my diy table clamp.