Rag Rug weaving on a Jack Loom?

OK, so I have a Union 2 shaft ( I think it's what you call a countermarche) loom that I use to make all my rugs.

My aunt has a loom that (she has personally never used - bought second hand)  that she would sell me.  It is a Nilus LeClerc 4 shaft JACK loom...

What are the pros and cons of Jack looms in regards to rag rugs?



Posted on Mon, 07/05/2010 - 12:28

 The loom needs to be heavy enough to  tolerate the firm beating necessary in rag rug weaving.  I have never used a Nilus but have seen one and it looks like a good, sturdy jack loom.  I did rag rug very successfully on a TOTT loom and added extra weight to the beater with a steel rod taped to the bottom of the beater.  Worked very well.

I would go for it.  A good 4 shaft Leclerc would be a good addition to your current loom family.

This is IMHO

Posted on Mon, 07/05/2010 - 16:35

I just bought a Hammett Loom to make rugs, and I asked the gentleman who was selling it (who is also a rug weaver), what he thought about a jack loom for making rugs.  He said that weaving rugs require a lot of warp tension, and when you get the warp tight enough on a jack loom, you won't be able to raise the shafts enough to get a shed.

I'm so excited about my new loom.  It's not assembled yet, but as soon as it is, I'll post pictures.

Ridinteacher, your rugs are so  beautiful and your blog is such an inspiration.


Posted on Mon, 07/05/2010 - 22:55

Thanks for your responses!  I was questioning myself about the ability to get enough tension.  I like a tight rug!  I've told my aunt to go ahead and offer it to the other people that had shown an interest in it, and then if it didn't sell I might decide to get it to use for different types of weaving.  I'd like to try towels and shawls and scarves, but that would probably be mostly for fun.  

I was also leery about the warp beam.  I'm not sure I can handle non sectional warping for my rugs.  I put on large warps~  This last batch I got over 30 rugs from the same warp.    I just started putting on another large warp today!

I'm just going to try and be patient and wait for the right loom to come along...   for rugs that is!

Thanks for the kind words Doreen!  You made me blush :)



Posted on Wed, 08/25/2010 - 13:20

Your Union Loom is a counterbalance, not a countermarch.  Both are good for rugs.  Most jack looms are not heavy enough for rugs.  The way counterbalance and countermarch both work is that as you raise some shafts the others lower.  This keeps even tension on all warp threads.  With jack looms only the threads on the shaft being lifted move, you will have greater tension on the lifted warp threads than on the warp threads that stay in place.  The Union loom is propbably better for your rugs.

Posted on Wed, 10/26/2011 - 01:52

I understand from reading the above that jack looms aren't the best for making rugs because of the strength of the structure. However, if I just want to make rugs for my home (not for sale or heirlooms), can't I just be careful and maybe advance the warp more often so I don't need the shed open quite as much? I was hoping to use this loom for fabric, towels, blankets, as well as rag rugs. (It's a Harrisville 36, 8 harness, 10 treadle). I figured I could use soft fabric for the "rag" part and 12/6 carpet warp. I've heard various suggestions to use a 6 epi to 10 epi sett. I hate to see people discouraged from using what they have, but I'd like to know if the results wouldn't be worth even attempting. Thanks in advance.

Posted on Wed, 10/26/2011 - 14:44


My opinion, is to try it... You may not have a dense firmly-beaten rug, but you will have a rug... and maybe you want a softer one anyway.  The rules are there... but can be broken... or stretched.  I used a 36 Artisat to weave a rug and it was fine. The poor loom walked all over the place as I beat it and the resulting rug wasn't very dense like the ones I wove on my old Union 2shaft rug loom, but it was a good rug.  I think I used 8/4 Maysville carpet warp and an 8 dent reed.  TRY IT!  

Posted on Wed, 10/26/2011 - 15:30

Hi chris,

For your loom, the problem is that you can damage the loom.  Since some parts of your loom are put together with screws, the beating of a rug will wiggle the loom and after a while those screws get loose.  You can damage the wood.  Even if you tighten them, screws are not made to be regularly tightened. 

If you do weave a rug, make it a weft faced rug, maybe at 5 or 6 warp threads per inch.  Bubble the rag weft.  That way you can squeeze the weft into the rug rather than beating it.


Posted on Thu, 10/27/2011 - 02:11

Okay. I'll give it a try, being careful as I go. I'm usually pretty good about being gentle and conscious of what's happening with my equipment. Since I haven't made rugs on anything else, I don't have anything to compare it to, so maybe that's a good thing. When I do weft-faced weave on my rigid heddle, I use a wide-tooth comb to beat the weft. I can't wait to get the current project off the loom and try this.

Posted on Mon, 12/26/2011 - 20:22

I have made over a dozen rag rugs on my 48" Nilus Leclerc loom with no problems.  Instead of banging the beater, I very firmly press the weft into the web.  Has anyone ever used corduroy for rag rugs?

Posted on Tue, 05/29/2012 - 22:13

It's been a long time since you posted this question...but I love using corduroy in rugs.

My rugs are weft-dominant and threaded at 3 doubled ends per inch. I cut my strips 1-1/2" wide, fold the edges under, and use a lay-in overlapping method to make the joins. By working to balance the overall structure, I use differences in thickness and texture of some cloth as part of the design. Corduroy has fun texture that catches light in a unique way.

Also: I use a jack loom. I understand that some jack looms are too delicate for rugs, but my 1964 Gilmore is sturdy as a draft horse. I'm also a presser (or squeezer) instead of a beater.

Anyhow: I hope you've tried corduroy and had fun with it too.

Posted on Tue, 05/29/2012 - 23:06

Some jack looms can take the heavy beating and high tension rag rugs require, like the Macomber B types.  They have heavy beaters, overhead jacks and treadles that are hinged at the back, not the front.  They are exceptionally sturdy.  My other jack loom, though, cannot take the tension or the beating, but I got it for portability, so it's a non-issue.