DIY

Colorful DIY Weaving Loom and Block Set You Can Gift (or Make With) Your Kids

Reader Contribution by Rory Groves
article image

Quick knit weaving loom. Photo by Rory Groves

When we first announced to our kids that we would be making handmade gifts for each other for Christmas this year, the reactions were less than enthusiastic. Would Santa approve of the toys coming out of our workshop?

But as the shock wore off and the ideas started flowing, our kids soon discovered an ancient truth: “‘Tis more blessed to give than to receive.”

For the next few weeks our kids lost themselves to a world of toymaking. They sourced materials from scrap lumber piles and forest floors. It’s really quite remarkable how creative kids can be under the influence of their own imaginations. Mom and Dad got in on the act as well—after all, it was our idea in the first place!

As a result, our family has never been more excited about a Christmas morning unwrapping than this year, both the givers and receivers.

Here are a few of our favorites:

Quick-Knit Weaving Loom (ages 6-12)

This simple loom is perfect for making small knits, such as washcloths or scarves. It can be easily made out of any scrap wood and nails you have in your shop.

What you will need:

  • 1×4 or larger piece of wood at least 12-inches long (pine works great)
  • Drill with 1/8-inch and 3/4-inch bits
  • Jigsaw
  • 1-1/2-inch nails (thicker joist hanger nails work great)

Steps:

Cut a piece of wood 2-1/4 inches by 12 inches.

Marking loom before cutting. Photo by Rory Groves

Mark the wood to cut a 10-inch by 3/4-inch wide slot down the center of the wood.

Drill a 3/4-inch hole 1-inch in from each end.

Using a jigsaw, cut out the center section between the two holes.

Loom frame with hole cut. Photo by Rory Groves 

Sand the wood frame smooth. Optionally, lacquer or paint the frame as desired.

Mark the frame with 30 holes spaced 3/4-inches apart: 14 along one side, 14 along the other, and 2 on the ends.

Using an appropriately-sized drill bit for the nails (such as 1/8-inch), drill a 1/2-inch deep hole for each mark (use a drill press if available). This step will ensure the nails go in as straight as possible.

Photo by Rory Groves

Pre-drill holes for nails 

Lightly set-hammer in each nail, being careful not to drive the nails too far and split the wood.

Hammer nails into holes. Photo by Rory Groves

Turn the loom upside down. Using a scrap block of wood, lightly hammer the frame to force the nails to insert to the same height.

Hammer loom upside down. Photo by Rory Groves

Your Quick Knit Loom is ready for weaving! Wrap with a skein of your favorite yarn.

Tip: Search for YouTube videos on “loom knit scarf” for a tutorial on getting started. Photo by Rory Groves

Colorful Blocks (ages 1-5)

Photo by Rory Groves

What child can resist colorful blocks? This simple DIY project will turn your scrap lumber into hours of creative play.

What you will need:

  • 2×4 lumber at least 30 inches long
  • Plywood or other backing 9×9 inches
  • 4 pieces of scrap wood at least 1-inch wide (for edges)
  • Miter saw
  • Sandpaper
  • Liquid water color paint or other liquid dyes (food coloring can work)

Steps:

If available, use a table saw to shave 1/2-inch off the 2×4 lumber, making it exactly 1-1/2-inch by 3-inches.

Photo by Rory Groves

Mark the lumber every 1-9/16-inch. The extra 1/16-inch will account for the width of the saw blade when cutting on center to produce 1-1/2-inch blocks.

Mark lumber before cutting  Photo by Rory Groves

Cut the blocks. There should be 18 in total, with some scrap left over.

Photo by Rory Groves

Sand each block smooth. This is the most time-consuming part. Conscript little hands to help!

Now paint the blocks with liquid water colors or other brightly-colored dyes and allow to dry.

Photo by Rory Groves

Optionally, Coat the blocks with clear lacquer to preserve the paint job. Water-based dyes will bleed if they get wet.

Assembling the Tray:

To create a holding tray for the blocks, cut a piece of plywood or other backing to 9 by 9-inches square.

Cut tray backing. Photo by Rory Groves

Cut four pieces of scrap wood at least 1-inch wide and slightly longer than 9-inches to make a 45-degree join. For example, if your piece is 3/4-inch thick, then cut 10-1/2-inches long with two 45-degree angles on each end.

Photo by Rory Groves

Glue each end and pin-nail to the backing to hold in place.

Photo by Rory Groves

Your blocks are finished and ready to wrap or stack (and topple)!


Rory Grovesis a technology consultant and family farmer who lives in southern Minnesota, with his wife, Becca, where they farm, raise livestock, host workshops, and homeschool their five children. He is author of the bookDurable Trades: Family-Centered Economies That Have Stood the Test of Time(Front Porch Republic). Connect with Rory atThe Grovestead, and read all of his MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts.