I had come across this tool several times on George Weil’s webpage while looking for something else weaving related, and always wondered briefly and idly what it was. And then decided to look it up. And then decided to buy it. And then used it, and really, it makes a super neat party trick – more importantly, it is such a useful tool!
It is a tool to sley a loom reed, and you would only use it for metal reeds. Why would you part with a non negligible sum of money for this flimsy spatula looking thingy when you can use a cheap plastic hook that costs a fraction of the price?
There are several reasons:
- it is going to make slewing the reed much faster, as you won’t have to pull the autodenter completely out, then back into the next slot, as you would with a standard hook;
- you won’t miss any dents!
- it’s endlessly entertaining.
So how does it do that? It actually consists of three parts put together, as far as I can see: a central “tongue” and two opposing “lips” that hold the tongue as in a pinch:
The tool is not symmetric – the “tongue” is bent at the top, and so is one of the lips.
First you insert the tip of the tool in the slot (at an angle, so that the bent tip can go through) – from here onwards you will keep the tool straight, and you will push it in and out of each slot, exerting a little pressure when going in towards the direction indicated by the bent tip. So e.g. if you want to start sleying from the right, you would insert the tool with the tip pointing to the left, as that would be your direction of travel. If you want to sley the reed moving towards the rigth, then you will insert the autodenter with the bent tip pointing towards the right.
Once the tip is in, the fun begins. So let’s suppose that, as in the video below, you want to sley left to right:
- slide the autodenter so that the bent lip engages the right dent of the slot: at this point the dent is between the right lip and the tongue of the denter.
- As you push the denter in the slot, you will hear a double click once the dent is past the lips. What has happened at this point is that the dent is in the free space between the two lips;
- now put the warp threads through the denter’s hooks
- pull the autodenter out, still exerting a little pressure so that the denter pushes lightly against the right dent in the slot – as you do, you will hear another double click: now what has happened is that the dent has ended up between the tongue and the left lip, or put it differently, the denter has moved to the next reed slot to the right of where you were – magic!
Below is a little demonstration, mid way through I slow it right down to show the “lip and tongue” movement.
I got my autodenter from George Weil, in the UK. It is unbranded, though apparently Schacht also do one, though I haven’t been able to find it. in the US, AVL Looms sell it as “patent denter”. Alternativesly just search for “autodenter”, or “auto enter”, “patent denter” or, “auto reed hook”.
Further sources of information I’ve found useful:
George Weil, Sleying the reed with the Autodenter
Tangled Threads blog, How to use an autodenter
Spinning Lizzy weblog, how to use an autodenter
Finally, if you want to see the autodenter in action with actual warp threads (I did not have enough hands to film and sley), as well as the denter pulled apart, have a look at this video