Choosing a Shuttle: How to decide on the best shuttle for your next project
February 01, 2021

Choosing a Shuttle: How to decide on the best shuttle for your next project

Every shuttle is a work of art. Finding the one that’s perfect for your hand and your weaving style is a joy! Gather stocks over a dozen models of shuttle so that you can find your shuttle soulmate. Get started on the hunt with this handy shuttle guide.

Boat Shuttles

Boat shuttles are the most common kind of weaving shuttle for multi-shaft table and floor looms. Yarn is loaded onto bobbins, which slide onto the metal rod running across the width of the shuttle. When you throw the shuttle, the bobbin spins, releasing yarn. 

The simplest place to start with boat shuttles is to pick up a shuttle from the same manufacturer who made your loom. If you like the clean lines and lightweight designs of a Schacht loom, you will likely also enjoy their shuttles. Schacht shuttles have pointy noses, making them skim quickly over the shuttle race. Most Shacht shuttles are open-bottom, which minimizes weight and lets you stop the bobbin from spinning from either above or below. These shuttles are quick, light, and not at all grippy. Leclerc shuttles have blunter noses, and more solid construction. They usually have closed bottoms, making them heavier and providing a touch of grip. Leclerc fans find them comfortable to hold and easy to throw accurately. Their larger bodies also let you load up more yarn on each bobbin.

Once you’ve tested out the standard model of shuttle from your loom’s manufacturer, you might want to test out a slightly different model. Slim shuttles aren’t as tall as the standard versions, which help them slip through smaller sheds. These are great options for table looms, or even rigid heddle looms. If you have smaller hands, you might want a shuttle that’s only 8 or 9 inches instead of the standard 11. There are also larger shuttles around 13 inches wide. If you love Schacht shuttles but keep accidentally throwing yours across the room, a closed-bottom Schacht shuttle might give you more control. And if you’d like to double your weft threads without having to wind them double on a bobbin, the Double Bobbin Boat Shuttle from Schacht can help you out. If you’re looking for something unique, Louet’s Flying Dutchman Shuttle stands out from the crowd. It has a bowed wire across its top to spread out sticky warp threads, and a bowed thread guide for optimal unwinding of the bobbin. 

One note for shuttle explorers: check to see what size bobbins a shuttle needs before trying it out. Bobbins range from 4” to 6”. A new shuttle may need new bobbins, depending on what you have at home.

End Delivery Shuttles

These popular shuttles provide more tension control than boat shuttles. Fans of end delivery shuttles (also called ‘end feed shuttles’ swear that the controlled tension improves selvedges and speeds up weaving. End delivery shuttles look a lot like boat shuttles. But instead of a rotating bobbin, the yarn is wound on a pirn that stays still while the yarn winds off of it. After it comes off the pirn, the yarn goes through an adjustable tensioning mechanism before coming out of the end of shuttle.

If you value speed and accuracy in your weaving, an end delivery shuttle will be a fun upgrade!

Stick Shuttles 

These simple shuttles are the go-to shuttle for rigid heddle weavers, but can also be used on table and floor looms. Yarn gets wrapped around the full length of the shuttle, with no bobbin required, meaning you can load much, much more yarn onto a stick shuttle than a boat shuttle. As a bonus for rigid heddle weavers, stick shuttles can also act as a pick up stick for more complex patterns! For best results, use a stick shuttle that is a little bit longer than the width of your project.

Belt shuttles are a relative of stick shuttles that are used for inkle and card weaving. They are shaped like stick shuttles, but with one bevelled edge so that they can be used to beat the weft as well.

Rag Shuttle

As the name suggests, these super-sized shuttles are made for weaving with rags or other bulky wefts. They are perfect for rug weaving. A rod in the center holds a bobbin, and an extra-large slot in the side leaves lots of room for the weft to unwind. These shuttles range from 15” to a whopping 22” in length!

Having the right tools to work with makes such a big difference in how much you can enjoy weaving, which translates directly into the quality of your finished products. We wish you and your perfect shuttle many years of happy weaving together!