MillWorks: Hairpin Lace Tool

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Hairpin Lace Loom/Tool

Begin by finding two wire clotheshangers. The old-fashioned kind, where the metal extends all across the bottom. This straight bottom section is what you will need. If you don't mind spending a bit of money and want something that feels more sturdy, hairpin lace tools are available in craft stores, in the display of crochet hooks and knitting needles. The nice thing about getting a real set is that it is extremely inexpensive (use a coupon!), but you'll end up with some nicer quality metal rods. You do need to pick whether you want to use clotheshangers or professional rods ahead of time, as this will impact the size holes you drill in the wood bars.

Also, purchase a 1/2" dowel rod. If you'd like, you can add some wood finials/finial caps. Compare them to the dowel rod to make sure they are a comparable size. I used them merely because I had them already--they're not necessary to the project, though they do make it look a bit less homemade.

Use wire clippers to cut the clotheshangers to approximately 10". Carefully sand each end with rough sandpaper if they don't cut cleanly.

Next, use a miter box and saw to cut two pieces of wood at 90 degree angles, with the length of 4 1/2".

Use a piece of paper cut to the same length. Use a pencil to make a dot every 1/2" to mark where to drill, but with only 1/4" at each end. You should end up with nine holes. Use an ice pick or awl to poke holes in these areas. Then use the pencil and your just-made paper stencil to draw them along the length of the dowel rod. Very carefully use the awl or ice pick to create hole starters on the two dowel pieces.

Drill the holes. Be very careful here. You will need to brace each dowel very securely before you drill. Also, the size hole you drill is important, of course! With my first hairpin lace loom try, I made the holes too small. Once the project was finished, it was almost impossible to get the metal rods in! I learned the hard way that it's better to go just a tad larger than you think is necessary. The stain and varnish can make the holes too small. Still, err on the side of the holes being too small when you drill your first hole. You may wish to practice on a spare dowel rod, since it's difficult to get the holes straight up and down when drilling by hand. Drilling slightly crooked, though it's likely accidental, does add to the tension and help keep all the rods in place, though!

The drill was so harsh to the underside of each dowel, that I sanded the undersides down, so that they became a bit flat. This removed some of the mess the drill left behind.

If you are adding finials, glue one to each end after the holes are drilled to your satisfaction.

Lastly, you will probably wish to finish the wood pieces with paint, or stain and varnish. The finish I used was a water-based maple color stain followed by antiquing medium, and then a few coats of water-based varnish.

If the fit of a hole gets a little loose over time--due to use, or perhaps a change in seasons--you can make the problem hole a tad smaller very easily. Put a bit of high-quality white craft glue on a toothpick, and whirl it around thinly inside the hole. Let it dry thoroughly before putting a rod back in. This can be repeated as needed. Rubberbands can alternately be used, but I like the ease of a snug fit and not needing any extra parts.

Says:

This is probably my favorite craft tool I've designed. It has that feel of something heirloom-like that you just can't get today, since the ones you'll find in craft stores and supply catalogs have plastic top and bottom cross bars. Hairpin crochet or hairpin lace is a basic building block in crochet projects. A long strip is made of crochet down the center of openwork yarn. Once long strips are made, they can be used alone or in conjunction with other strips, and along with additional crochet work, they can be made into scarves, sweaters, shawls, and much more! Now once you finish this craft, you may wonder what in the world you will do with it! Hairpin crochet/lace is not a commonly seen craft. Thankfully, the Internet is full of free projects that you can find.

The hairpin lace tool seen here is my second try. Feel free to try more than once to get one that's perfect for you. My first used clotheshangers, and I didn't like them quite as much as professonal metal rods. The other things I changed from the original was making the wood dowels as compact as possible, to cut down on the weight, as well as adding decorative finial caps to take away that homemade look. The original design was much longer, to allow for wider projects. However, I looked around online and noticed that very few projects ever called for more than 4" wide hairpin crochet strips. Before making your hairpin crochet set, though, you may wish to look around for projects you like, and see if the length here is okay for you. If not, you can adapt the project by adding on to the dowel length before making any marks.

If the holes loosen with use or as the seasons change, you can use small rubberbands to keep the metal bars from slipping out.

Have fun!

Providing crafts since October 2011. Hairpin lace tool created in October 2011. Copyright 2011- and all contents by Millie. Resulting products can only be kept or given away as gifts. Always keep safety in mind.