Twin Willows Farm
- Drum Carders
One of the
most versatile and valuable tools for handspinning is the
drum carder. A drum carder allows you to create your own
your own custom colors and your own creative masterpieces.
roving is fine and dandy, but you have to spin what someone else
Buying fibers and carding them at home lets you be in complete control
what you’ll be spinning.
you don’t have a drum carder and are thinking about purchasing one,
here are some things to think about before you make your
purchase. There are many brand names and many different
features on drum carders. There is not a ‘one size fits all’
drum carder out there, so try to pick the features that will work best
for what you want to do.
most important thing to think about when purchasing a drum carder
is the carding cloth, or teeth, of the carder. If you know
that you prefer to spin ultra fine fibers and will be carding mostly
ultra fine fibers, be sure you get a drum with an ultra fine carding
teeth per square inch).
These fibers include pure
Merino wool, etc. I can’t stress this enough!
Trying to card
ultra fine fibers on a regular carding cloth will frustrate you to the
of tears and probably turn you off of drum carding forever.
everything else in life, you need the right tool for the right job.
you like to spin the medium fibers, such as Corriedale, Romney,
Border Leicester, Finn, Mohair and those types of fibers, then a
cloth is best (around 72
teeth per square inch).
This is what
my own drum carder has. I use it for all my Border Leicester
my blends, including blending with angora. It works
would not use it to produce pure angora batts, however.
companies also have carding cloth at around 100 teeth per square
inch. I have never used these but assume it would be a nice
compromise between the ultra fine and regular. I wouldn’t use
it for the ultra fine fibers still, but maybe for the finer wools such
as Targhee and Columbia and fibers such as llama or dog fur.
companies also allow the option of changeable drums.
That is, you buy one drum carder but can purchase two or three of the
large drums to use with it. This is a good option for the
spinner who wants to work in all sorts of textures. But I
think most spinners have a preference and can purchase just what they
need with one drum.
are some other options to consider:
drum carders come with table clamps to keep them from moving
around as you crank the handle. These are nice but not all
tables are suitable to use with them. My table has a 4” side
all around the edge, so
no clamp is going to work. Clamping may also leave a mark on
table, so if you have don’t have an old work table to use, you may not
want to use a clamp.
that mount on the drum carder and help push the fibers down
into the teeth can be a great asset. I’ve used drum carders
with and without the brush and find that the brush helps keep the batts
even and makes filling the drum much easier. My brush also
folds back out of the way of
the drum when I clean the drum off or if I don’t want to use
Brushes are extremely helpful for fly-away type fibers such as angora,
alpaca and dog fur.
companies offer a motorized version of their drum
carders. I’ve never used one but can see the benefits
especially for people with physical limitations. The down
side I would think about is not having the ability to stop instantly if
you see a problem or want to correct a mistake you
made in loading the colors or fibers.
and Belt Drives:
have owned and operated both belt driven and chain driven drum
carders. Personally, I prefer the chain drive.
There are people who prefer
the belt drives. Both function well but I had problems with
slipping as it got older and needing to replace it several
The chain moves along toothed gears and never slips or needs
My model has a nice guard to keep the fibers out of the chain as well.
are several different sizes to the large drums. The
industry standard is an 8” drum. Some offer smaller drums of
4” they call
roving carders. These are cheaper priced but you have to
as much to produce the same amount of carded fiber, so they are time
eaters. For the price difference, you may want to think about
what your time is
worth. Some models also offer a larger drum, up to
are wonderful if you’re doing large amounts of carding, but if you want
to card just an ounce, you may find that the batts are too wispy to
and work well.
far as I know, the Strauch
drum carders are the
only models using a special card cloth
on the licker in drum. This is the small drum that helps feed
fibers onto the large drum. I have one of these and I
absolutely love it. The fibers flow much more smoothly onto
the large drum and I have very little wasted fiber when I’m done.
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