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Choosing a Drum Carding Machine

Updated on September 6, 2013

Home Drum Carders

Using hand cards to comb fibers can be time consuming and hard work. Instead, you could be using a drum carding machine. What is a drum carding machine? Take the card cloth off the hand cards and wrap them around two cylinders or drums. The drums are placed next to each other like a wringer washer. When the fibers are moved between the two drums, the fibers are combed by the teeth on the card cloth. The first machines were hand crank, operated once again, just like the wringer washer. Today, many machines are motorized. The same process is used in todayâs woolen mills only with a series of drums instead of just two. What once took hours to process the fibers by hand now only takes minutes with a drum carder.

Choosing Your Carder

While shopping around for a drum carding machine, consider the following before making your decision. A drum carding machine is an investment that should last you for decades. While price is an important factor, you should also consider how well the machine is made, how easy it is to use and how much maintenance it requires. Of course, its beauty can also be a consideration.

1. The machine should be solidly constructed. Hardwood should be used for the frame. Beware of the use of cardboard for the drums as they will warp, particularly in damp environments.

2. Make sure the bolts, screws, nuts and other components are made of highest quality. The nuts, bolts and screws should be protected from rust or corrosion.

3. The drums should turn freely and smoothly without binding or be over loose. Any sideways movement of the drums during operation may indicate that the bearings are not adjusted properly. Make sure the drums are perfectly round to minimize variation of the gap between the two drums. This would create lumpy batts.

4. Make sure there is a gap in the card cloth on the drums, protected by a metal strip. This gap facilitates ease of doffing the batt off the drum and protects the card cloth on the drum from damage from the doffing tool. The card cloth should be attached tightly to the drums without any high or low areas. Make sure the cloth does not move during operation.

5. The carder should allow carding the widest possible range of fibers without change or modification. Studies show that the use of 72 to 80 tpi (teeth per inch) along with a fine fiber brush will card most types of fibers.

6. The pulleys, sheaves and crank handles should be fastened to the drum shafts in a manner which both keeps the pulley or handle from slipping on the shaft and allows easy removal for cleaning or adjustment.

7. The carder should stand high enough above the table or bench to allow cranking the machine without hitting hands or knuckles on the table top. The feet of the carder should be made of a protective material that does not damage furniture surfaces. The use of clamps to hold the carder down can also cause damage to furniture surfaces.

8. The carder should be designed to be as maintenance free as possible.

9. The machine should be beautiful in design.

Hand Cards or a Machine?

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Fine Fiber Brush

The Fine Fiber Brush was invented and patented by Richard Duncan of Duncan Fiber Enterprises, Ltd. It was created for use with Mohair, Angora Rabbit, Alpaca and other fine and fluffy fibers.

The brush continuously combs the fiber throughout the carding process producing maximum batt thickness on the large drum and dramatically reducing feedback and collection of fibers on the small licker-in drum. This device essentially eliminates the need for interchangeable drums and finer or coarser card cloth.

Although created for use with fine fibers, the Fine Fiber Brush works well with all fibers, producing a thicker and more uniform batt.

History of the Drum Carder

The initial idea for a drum carder came from India in the second century. It wasn’t until 1748 when a machine was patented to card fibers. Credit is given to Lewis Paul who invented a carding machine with a revolving cylinder or drum. The machine had two drums covered with card cloth containing thousands of tiny bits of steel called teeth. In the same year, David Bourn patented a similar machine the was driven by hand or by water wheel.

Later in the century, Richard Arkwright and Samuel Crompton are credited with improvements to the machine. Also in the century, machine were developed with several drums and used in mills in northern England and Wales. The mills produced yarn. The machines were brought to North America in the 1780’s.

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