How do we choose tablets for tablet or card weaving? You can buy and make tablets in bone, wood, leather, plastic and cardboard. The things to consider are flexibility, size, and thickness. You need to use identically sized tablets in each piece of tablet weaving.
Sizing is personal. My preferred size is about five centimetres / two inches. Many manufacturers make larger ones, even up to eight centimetres. The larger the tablet the more you have to stretch your hands to control them. This can be tiring. Smaller ones are a more suitable size for children and also reduce the warp wastage as you can weave much closer to the end of the warp.
The picture shows 5 different sets of tablets. The stacks are all the same height. The numbers indicate the number of tablets in each stack. 10 wooden tablets take as much in height as 52 made of playing card. It is generally easier to control 50 tablets of playing card than 50 wooden tablets, unless you have an extremely large handspan.
Materials to make tablets from
Flexibility is important here, as the action of flipping the tablets in some designs puts an extra strain on the yarns. Thinnish card and playing card tablets are the most flexible and give a little as you flip them making flipping them easier. Wooden tablets although strong are stiff. The wooden set I have are also extremely thick, the set of 10 takes as much space as 52 made of playing cards. For me thin tablets are the most comfortable.
I have never used leather tablets but imagine they will have some flexibility. Bushcraft USA has details about how to maker your own from leather
Making your own tablets for tablet weaving
It is simple to make tablets of card in small numbers. Start with thin card or cardboard of a thickness you can easily cut. Postcards and greeting cards can be strong enough. Card comes in many different qualities, but usually 300gsm is more than adequate. Old playing cards make beautifully slim tablets.
Cut out a set of squares, pencil in the largest circle which fits in the square. Punch hole a hole in each corner, making sure each hole is inside the circle. Trim around each corner, taking away the pointed corner to reduce snagging on the warp threads as they turn.
Tablets made of card are my favourite as they are flexible and easy to make. If the ones you make turn out not to be quite strong enough glue two together back to back.
Once you have made or bought cards draw a thick black line between the same two holes on both sides. Also hold the pack together and mark them along the very top edges. This helps to check the their position as you weave. I stopped marking the corners in different colours as I find it safer to look at the colour of the yarn in the corner than at the colour on the card.
If you need more tablets than you want to make I have 5 and 6 cm for sale. My Vimeo channel has an instructional video on how to make a tablet weaving warp, and weaving method for both inkle and tablet weaving.
I also have lock bands available for tensioning tablet weaving.