Choosing the best tapestry loom requires first deciding what size loom is right for you. You also have to figure out if it needs to be portable or can be stationary. You have to decide how many shafts you want your loom to have, what kind of wood you prefer, and what kind of loom — jack, counterbalance or countermarche — you want to use.
Determining how much space you have for a tapestry loom is an important part of the process. People who are new to this craft are often encouraged to start with a floor loom, but a floor loom is relatively large — some are too large to move easily, if at all — when compared to the smaller, more compact table loom. At the same time, while a table loom may be smaller, it is often considered more difficult to use, especially for a newcomer.
The shafts of a tapestry loom work by moving the strings around to different parts of the tapestry, creating intricate designs. Typically, these machines contain from four to eight shafts. While a four-shaft loom is sufficient for beginners, more advanced craftsmen often choose looms with a higher number of shafts that allow them to create more intricate patterns.
Determine also if you want your tapestry loom to be a jack, counterbalance, or countermarche loom. Most often, beginning weavers choose jack looms. A counterbalance loom, meanwhile, helps to create a tapestry that is more even. A countermarche loom can create a wider shed than the other loom types, though it also has its drawbacks.
One of the last steps in choosing the best tapestry loom is to decide from what type of wood you want your loom to be made. Great, high-quality looms can and are made out of almost any type of wood. For best results, consider choosing one that is made from a hard wood, such as maple or oak. Don't focus on the color of the natural wood when choosing a tapestry loom, because it can be stained to almost any desired color.
Finally, once you have found a great tapestry loom that appears to meet all of your requirements, test drive the loom. Most reputable dealers will have no problem allowing you to run a few lines of tapestry through the loom to determine whether it works for you. Some sellers will even allow you to take a tapestry loom home with you, and try it out there to see how well you like working on it. If this is the case, be sure that you completely understand the return policy. You don't want to be stuck with a loom that you have decided isn't right after all.