Ask Madelyn: What Are Warping Sticks, and How Long Should They Be?

Points to consider when you step up from paper to sticks.

Madelyn van der Hoogt Jul 1, 2024 - 4 min read

Ask Madelyn: What Are Warping Sticks, and How Long Should They Be?  Primary Image

Warping sticks help you wind a warp evenly on to the beam—which will make your weaving go more smoothly. Image from Warping Your Loom video

Hi Madelyn!

In a previous post, you mentioned using warping sticks when winding a warp on the back beam. I would like to get these for winding a linen warp onto my Harrisville Rug Loom. I currently use rolls of paper and would like a better solution.

Can you tell me specifically what you use and where you get them? My warps are about 39" at the reed, so the sticks will need to be at least 40" wide. My warps are usually about 20 yards long. How many sticks do you think I need?



Hi Carol!

I use warping sticks that come from Glimakra USA and are carried by many weaving retailers. They have a smooth finish, and you can order them cut to the length you need. It‘s best if the sticks are at least two inches longer than the width of the warp you are using them with, but beware of sticks that are too long—I‘ll write about what that means later in this answer.

How many sticks you need depends on how many you put in per turn of the warp beam. I usually put in two per turn. But I pull very firmly when I beam a warp, so that warp tension is very, very tight and the diameter of the warp on the beam is absolutely consistent (you can see how to make sure this happens in my Warping Your Loom video).

If the tension is not firm, the sticks will press on the warp layer under them and drag that warp layer against the next one. As a result, you'll see funny loops in the threads on the beam. Especially when you’re working with linen, all of the warp layers need to be smooth and tight.

Warping sticks come in bundles of 24. I think I'd get three bundles for the project you describe.

I don't like the sticks to be too much longer than the warp is wide because they tend to bend inward (toward the beam) beyond the warp's edges. Those long sticks change the circumference of the warp on the beam so that it is not perfectly consistent—it will be smaller at the sides, like a cigar.

If your loom's weaving width is 48 inches, warping sticks cut to that length will work well for your 39" warp. If your loom is 60 inches wide and you'll use them for a warp width of about 39" most of the time, I'd still recommend 48" as the maximum stick length.

Another option if you use longer sticks with a narrower warp is to wind on dummy cords at each edge of the beam to support the ends of the warping sticks so they stay straight.


Originally published November 24, 2015, updated July 1, 2024.