Cross Staff Rope Making Machine

This is a rope making machine of a type that was somewhat common in the 19th Century.

The gears can either be 24teeth and 6 pegs or 40 teeth and 10 pegs. Either way you get 1:4 ratio of twists.

You can see in this picture the cross arm need not be straight nor do the 2 hooks need to be exactly opposite. Nor do the three hooks need to be exactly spaced at 120° from each other, they could be but it’s not important.

What Is important is the spacing between the centers of the outer gears and the center of the main gear.

I have here drawn 24 to 6 , the smaller teeth of a 40 to 10 may run smoother.

I have not yet made this machine:

Most of the structure should be a softer wood like: Pine, Poplar, Bass, Cottonwood.

The main gear can be made of segments or made from a slab of the same softer wood, with teeth made from some very hard wood, like: White Oak, Live Oak, Lignum vitae.

main gear segment
main gear tooth

the main gear is drawn @ 1 1/2″ thick, the teeth are drawn 1″ thick.

I have drawn the small gears as 2 soft wood discs, 6 hard wood pegs, and a center 1″ hard wood shaft.

small gears

the center shafts of all the small gears need to have a hole bored through end to end, to accommodate the metal hook. OR make them 1″ too long and the hook can be made from a piece of pipe that only fits on the end of the center shafts.

hook made from pipe.

in use any wax or grease could be used to help it run smoothly, I prefer a 1:1 mix of mineral oil and bees wax. Any paste wax would work, or even bacon grease (very traditional)…

be well


Tools of the trade 13: and, Making Tools: Marking Gages

Having covered hand planes, you need to know how much material to take off. this is where your Marking Gage comes into play. Also the marking gage is usually one of the first tools someone makes for themselves so…

Marking gages are super simple to make, and you will need a couple during your career.

They have three essential parts, a beam, a fence, and a locking mechanism.

the beam is a stick of any consistent dimensions that you like. Eg. 1″ square or 1″ round… and has some way of leaving a mark on the wood, a pin to scratch, a knife to cut, or it might have a pencil holder built in.

the fence is a block of wood that the beam passes through and the locking mechanism is housed in.

And the locking mechanism could be a screw, a lever, or some sort of wedge. By far the easiest one is the the japanese wedge, and the trapped or french wedge comes close for simplicity.

marking gauges

So I will outline the making of 2.

marking gauges 2

I start with the fence. And make the wedge hole first… Use find a scrap @ 3″ x 3″ or 3″ x 4″… Find the center and Draw a 1″ diameter hole, or square.

for the gage on the left, draw a line across tangent to the top of of the circle with your square. bring the line around the side, and find the center. drill a 1/2″ hole all the way through to the other side.

Then drill a 1″ diameter hole as square to the face as you can. (drill presses allowed).

If you are going to use a square beam then use a square to scribe the lines and cut the  hole into a square with your chisels.

to make a beam you can get a 1″ hardwood dowel or use a rounder plane to make one, sand it until it just slips through the hole, or plane a 1″ square until it just fits the square hole.

you can use a nail for the marking pin, but  broken drill bit of less than 1/8″ diameter works better. drill a smaller hole and drive it in. If it is going in too hard make a saw kerf with a very fine saw up to the hole.

marking gauges 3

you can make a flat on top of the dowel type if you like, or not.

the wedge on the left hand model is a dowel with a cut out as shown that goes @ half way through. tapping one end will lock it, and tapping the other will free it. And it can’t fall out as long as the beam is in place. This is a Japanese style gage.

the french wedge is a bit trickier, it needs a mortice that is the size of the knob on the small end, see how the mortices intersect in the illustration.

marking gauges 4

Or you can orient the wedge parallel to the beam.

marking gauges 5

there are many different types or styles of gages, make what you think will be most useful for you.

be well

A Home Made Broom Press or vise made from easily obtained materials.

Hi! I’m at it again, drawing pictures, making plans etc…

Most Antique Broom presses are made from heavy hardwood planks. If you can find similar planks to work with by all means do so. Adjust your measurements to accommodate your thicknesses. if you can’t: you can make this with a 10′ “2×8” and a few other odds and ends.

FYI Common lumber standards have a 2×8 measuring 1.5″ x 7.5″ but the 10′ measure cannot be less than 10′ but it can be 10′ 1/4″ or something like that. In theory; the wood is sawn at 2″ x 8″ and then dried (where it shrinks, cups, and twists) and then run through a planer to flatten and make it all the same (and take the corners off). thus it can’t be actually be 2″ x 8″. when I was young the standard was finished at 1 3/4″ by 7 3/4″… but we are using a lot of fast grown junk trees now and the twist are worse so we get what we get now…

Many of the older broom presses are only 4′ tall or thereabouts. I drew this at 4’6 thinking it’s not too tall for most people and it will accommodate the longer handles that some people prefer.

Cross Cut a 2×8 into 2 pieces, 1 length of the height you want, the other 1/2″ shorter. you will need a 10′ one for a taller vice, or an 8′ one for a 48″ vise.

look through the scrap bins at your lumber yard and see if you can get reduces price offcuts for the 24″ clamp and it’s 18″ brace. Cut those to length.

The feet will need 2 pieces of 2×6, 31″ long and 2 pieces of 2×4, 16 1/2″ long. You may be able to find these in those scrap bins.. or cut it out of wider stock.

Drill holes for 1/2″ diameter bolts in the sides of the foot. a drill press is your friend here. Freehand if you must.

Drill holes for 1/2″ diameter bolts in the sides of the foot. a drill press is your friend here. Freehand if you must. I recommend that you use carriage bolts. If you cannot get them, then lag bolts or big screws from both sides would work.

The bolts in the stationary jaw are to hold it steady and solid, you may want to glue it as well. The ONE bolt in the moving jaw is a pivot point. Since it wants to move you will not want glue or other fasteners.

Here are the bottoms of the stationary jaw (left) and the moving jaw (right). You can see the height difference in the two jaws here. The holes are drilled centered in the thickness of the material.

A note about bolts and other options… Bolts or screws are best where things need to be tightened down and locked in place. But there is another option for the pivot points on this project. Bar stock and Cap nuts, Iron bar stock is available in a variety of sizes from most lumberyards or farm supply stores. they also have what are called “cap nuts” which press onto the ends bar stock (ok most times you need to hammer them on) they bite into the bar and are not removable. they can be use to fasten like bolts (make the bar a little shorter) or used to attach wheels to things, (make the bars a touch long so the wheels turn) and they would make better pivot points than threaded rod or bolts because the tooth threads will cut into the wood, smooth rod will not.

Hole for the position of the iron straps of the clamp lever… again centered in the material. use either a 1/4″ or 1/2″

you will want to cut a nice shape into the clamp paddle… maybe round where you grip it.

position of the pivot hole in the clamp paddle. also note the rounded over end…

Detail of the lower end of the paddle brace.

On all of the Metal! Cut it to length then file the sharp corners off! Then mark for holes and drill them. Then file those sharp edges off (or use a countersink or larger drill to get the burrs off). Clean with acetone and disposable rags, use paste wax to keep clean and rust free.

this is the iron strap that makes the clamp work, 3/4″ or 1″ wide, 1/8″ or 1/4″ thick, 12 3/4″ long. pivot hole positioning indicated in the drawing.

the jaws drawn are 1″ black angle iron, cut to match the width of the material you are using. You could use aluminum but that will probably smudge black on your broom corn. Clean with acetone and don’t wax it yet. Mark 4 or 5 holes about 1″ up from the bottom edge of the angle iron and drill to fit some #8 by 3/4″ pan head screws. you can glue these on with epoxy or Gorilla ™ glue then pilot drill the screw holes in the wood. (the holes in the iron want to let the screw slide through, the pilot holes in the wood want to grip the screw threads).

If all goes well this should work, if you have to adjust how close the jaws come together, you can either trim the paddle or file the angle iron to make it wider. or you can shim the paddle to make it clamp thinner…

Be well

go make something

Update: If you want curved jaws either:

make the contact area out of some hard wood and cut it to a curve.

Or cut lower leg of the steel every half inch or so with an abrasive cut off wheel, bend the steel, weld it together… or not, drill screw holes wherever you can and fasten it in place.

A Rocking Reed loom

I could not get measurements for this specific loom, so I adapted measurements from other looms and guesstimate some measurements etc.. But I believe that if you follow my measurements you will end up with a working loom…

A Rocking Reed Loom is one where the reed is standing on legs that have a rocker at their base, as opposed to the legs being suspended from an upper frame.

Dianne Betts’ Barn Loom

I saw this loom on the FB page “Barn Frame Loom Discussion Group”. The person who posted it, Dianne Betts, was gracious enough to get measurements for me so that I could make a fairly accurate modeling of it.

As with all of the drawings that I post, use it, share it, give me credit for drawing it, but do not sell it!

And please consider dropping a donation to help me continue this work.

be well


Barn Looms, sometimes also called Great Looms

While there is no set designation for what is a “barn loom” it’s generally agreed that it is a loom that is built like a barn (large beams, pegged or tusk tenoned) and due to their bulk generally get shifted out to the barn or attic when they stopped being used. The variety and ingenuity expressed in these (usually) one of a kind constructions is a testament to human creativity that should not be lost to history.

So I am making 3D CAD drawings of any and all that I can get Pictures of, and am very grateful when the owners will accommodate me when I ask for Measurements.

The drawings of the rocking reed loom (below) will be available for the asking later this week on my web page. send me a request and I’ll send you the link… If anyone reading this has one they love and would like to see it drawn up you can email me with pictures at: and I’ll ask for measurements that I need to make it up. (or if you hate it but want it drawn up anyhow) 😉 sincerely yours,