Monday, July 30, 2012

I need a drum carder... advice?

 For the past few weeks I've been researching drum carders and I find myself a little overwhelmed.  First of all, I'm sort of a "jumper-inner" kind of person so the fact that I've spent weeks researching anything is new. 

Second of all, I keep thinking that surely I must be able to build my own drum carder and my mind is kind of reeling from the echo of logic saying, "nope, not this time".  Though I do keep casting glances at dog brushes and giant rollers when in stores, thinking maybe...

Truly, I don't mind paying for quality tools but I'll admit that the steep price of these babies is what has me doing extra, extra research.  Even the more affordable models are not exactly affordable.  (I literally paid less money for my first car.  (1969 Plymouth Valiant. 4-door, metallic green, white top.)

So, I'm asking for a little help from those of you with experience.  I know I'd like a drum carder with a medium or coarse cloth, since I want to process shorter staple-length breeds specifically for needle-felting.  Beyond that, stumped.  Are the high-end machines that much more efficient?  I like the chain driven models, because they seem more sturdy, but in practice does it really matter?  The brush that holds the wool to the drum seems like a good idea, but again, does it matter?  Are the less expensive models going to be something that I will use for years or only months?  I'd love to find a used machine but sheesh, good luck.  They seem to be rarer than hens' teeth. Does anyone have any advice?  Or a lead on a used machine?  Or a winning lottery ticket you don't want? (hey, it was worth a shot)

Like I said, I'm a little overwhelmed.

While I figure it all out I've been washing and dyeing some fleece that I got a few weekends ago.  I'm utterly in love with the autumnal brown with hints of green, russet, and orange that I pulled out of this latest dye pot (it is much prettier in person).  I brushed it out with a pair of dog slicker brushes and it needle-felted up beautifully.  I already have a project in the works for which it will be the perfect addition.

Thanks in advance for any advice you might have for me, and I hope the week starts off wonderfully for all of you.  Happy Monday.


Sonia / COZY MEMORIES said...

I'm sorry I'm absolutely of no help in this case. But I hope someone(s) will be able to !!
Big hugs my friend oxox
PS : to your question on the blog, no I didn't eat them, I love observing them but not eating them. My mom, hubby & P loved them, on the other hand !! LOL

eidolons said...

I just bought a drum carder this month. The price was a major issue for me as well. I ended up with a Brother drum carder (they're made in the USA and are fairly inexpensive). I've used a Kitty before, so that's what I have to compare it to. I love my carder. The only (and I do mean *only*) complaint is that the little feet on the bottom are self-adhesive and don't stay on. I'm going to glue on a bit of felt and buy some clamps for it.

I bought the medium drum (90 teeth per inch, I think) and I've used it on alpaca, mohair, and a randowm Brown Sheep mill-end wool blend. It's been amazing with all three.

Here's my blog post about the carder, if you're interested:

Colette said...


I have an old drum carder that I got through contacting the local spinners and weavers associations but that is here in the uk. I don't know if you have the same groups with you.

Good luck in your search, I love mine (mine is also for corse fleece).


Mona said...

I wouldn't say that I couldn't live without my drum carder, but I'd rather not. I tend to want to do and make everything myself too - but I think life's too short for trying to make a drum carder. I've got an Ashford (coarse) with poly belt. It's quite old but works like a charm. My mother bought it when I was a girl, for making duvets with wool filling from our own sheep. I use it for regular carding and also for blending fibres; wool, alpaca, silk and angora. I won't hesistate to recommend an Ashford drum carder, it's also one of the nicest looking on the market I think.
If I should make something carding relted, I'd love to make something like this bicycle powered drum carder:

Jennifer said...

My husband found a used drum carder on ebay that didn't need any work, and got it for me for Christmas (what a great guy!) We did replace the old leather belt with a length of auto drive belt that I stitched together at the right length. It works a treat. Mine is a Canandian (not Pat Greene) built machine. I would go used if you can find one. Try Craigslist (there's one in Maine for sale right now for about $300).
Even with shipping thrown in, mine was not much more than that.
Good luck. I LOVE mine. There is a great series of videos on youtube that gives clear directions and tips for proper use and cleaning.

Jennifer said...

Here's the link to the one for sale in Maine.

It looks to be in good shape, and chain driven, too.

MNLacer said...

Have you considered local guilds? According to Spin-Off these are located in Minnesota:

I have happily used the Weavers Guild of Minnesota's electric drum carder for a small hourly fee.

Some guilds also host a for sale/wanted list that might help you.

Betty in Minnesota

Suzanne said...

I've got a Louet and it was pricey, but SOOOOOOO worth the money. Love it, and I am hard on equipment. It's been through a ton of fleece and keeps right on trucking. I got mine through Halcyon Yarn. They also have amazing customer service.

joanie said...

I spent much of today with alpacas and sheep and completely understand your desire for a carder. I'm sure you would get lots of use out of one and it would pay for itself in time.
There are already loads of great suggestions posted to you here. The only suggestion I would make is to think creatively regarding getting one. Your skills as an artist and your long list of online followers might make it worth a company's while to trade with you in some way. Perhaps you could trade services for a machine or for a heavy discount. I can't think of a better fiber artist to show off a wool carder than you. Just think of what Michael Jordan did for Nike Airs. Yes I'm putting you in the same league as Michael Jordan, just a different arena ;)
It's late and I've overindulged on birthday cake.

Unknown said...

I love a good loom...I'm a weaver.

But I love a good carder too...Especially a FeltLOOM. This is rather local to me and I love their story. I know this is not what you are looking for, but I just want people to see what they can do. Also there is one of these at the University of KY where you can take classes for a Saturday afternoon. So read about this. Http://

I've used a drum carder. Probably a Louet if I'm remembering correctly. I loved it!

Love your blog. Thank you for always being positive and inspiring!


Becky Utecht said...

Oh how timely! There is an auction near me this Saturday (Aug. 4th) with a Patrick Green drum carder. I plan to be there because they also have a complete wool milling set up, circa 1918. It's HUGE! I'll let you know if I get that Patrick Green at a reasonable price. I own a used Louet Jr drumcarder, it works fine for me. I send most of my wool out for processing because the one year I drumcarded all my fleeces, it was time for shearing by the time I got done drumcarding. I use my Louet for carding my combed top into batts for my felting projects and for custom blends of fibers for my handspun yarns.

Lisa at lil fish studios said...

Thanks so much, everyone!

Joanie - you are too sweet. Too, too sweet.

Valerie - awesome. Another thing to add to the "ooooh, want! list"

Becky - good luck at the auction! I'd love to hear if you score that Pat Green. And a complete, antique milling set up? Now that sounds amazing. I'd love to see that.

Ceaberrys Haberdashery said...

I recently bought a new Ashford Drumcarder. I love it! The little brush thingy works for certain wools but I use a pet slicker held while i am turning the handle which presses the fibre down nicely if you are making batts to sell. I put that caveat in there because if you are doing it for home consumption I would just let the fibres on and not compact them because it takes a bit of fluffing afterwards to get it to spin if it is too compacted. To get wool off the carder lift it then use a pet slicker to get the bits that stick (do not do this for silk or alpaca).

I love my drum crader and I am a worsted spinner. I tend to put my fibre in sideways so I can spin it easier from the batt but for woollen spinning put it in lengthwise.

sararenzulli said...

Hi Lisa, Where did u end up on this? I am a jumper-inner too and jumped right into a top of the line Strauch because I was feeling rich for a fleeting moment. Apparently I am the only person out of 6000 sales that is not satisfied. I am used to the borrowed Louet that can churn anything I throw at it. The Strauch is touchy - the wool has to be finessed into the machine and then turned very slowly. I just got it so I need to give it more time and see if I can get it to card at the level and quality I want. Sara

Lisa at lil fish studios said...

Sara, I went with a Brother drum card. I jumped at the low end of the line. I don't have a lot of carder experience so maybe some of this is normal, but I was a little surprised at how little fiber I'm able to feed in at a time. I'm able to turn at a good click, as long as I don't try to put too much fiber into it. My batts don't come out super smooth, like I had expected, but since I'm using them for felting and not spinning, that's fine for me. The overall quality of the machine; the woodwork and belts and whatnot, seems decent and the customer service was great. I feel like I got what I paid for. That said (a little rant) I know I could make this machine myself but the price of the carding cloth makes it prohibitive. The price of wool processing tools of any kind seems grossly inflated. It's a racket, I tell ya. :p Hope that machine starts working for you, or you find a suitable replacement.

COH said...

Have you considered a blending board? Ashford's 12" square carding board ($175.00) is great quality, has a handle and a built in (table top) stand that van be turned to fit between your knees for lap carding. It comes with tools & instruction book. I have used both and they both do the same thing in pretty much the same amount of time. Try eBay for a used drum carded.

Unknown said...

Good evening to you. I am waiting for my brother baby drum carder to be delivered. I just purchased it on ebay yesterday morning. The carder and all the accessories that typically come seperate, brand new, for 355.00. (that is including shipping). I have been looking then all over also and found shall that are the same size, but do not come with the accessories for even more money. I too am a jumper inner. When I started needle felting just over a year ago, I started right from cleaning wool, not knowing a thing. Made my own comb and hackle, and tried many different methods for combing wool. Also, my husband and I tossed around the idea of making one. Came to the conclusion, less stress, easier and know that with the purchased one it will work immediately. Just now to practice, which for me, is fun. I even made my own wool picker. After weeks of fumbling over it, I finally have a working picker. I am on disability, so income for me is very low. So this purchase was a lot of pondering, weighing out the pros and cons. Came to the decision that is is definitely a pro in many ways. The baby drum carder, small as it is, is perfect for small spaces, small budgets, and personal use. I am so happy for you getting one and for myself when mine comes. Thank you for your amazing blog. I am relieved to see that I was not alone. May you have many blessings!


Related Posts with Thumbnails