How to Build Your Own Drum Carder

By Christopher Tebbutt

A drum carder features cylinders (or drums) that are wrapped in carding cloth. The drums draw in the fiber and open and align the fibers. A drum carder makes a batt of fiber that can be spun, felted or used in a quilt. Carding fibers by hand is an effective method and creates a more personal product than commercial drum carding, but before you can test the method you will need to create the mechanism.

Turning the Spool into a Cylinder

Cut thin wooden slats which are the length of the spool. Depending on the size of your spool, 8 wooden slats should suffice.

Mark where your slats will sit on the spool, ensuring they are a consistent distance apart.

Secure the wooden slats in place at the spool ends with tiny nails.

Securing the Carding Cloth

Attach the carding cloth to the drum using a staple gun. Start at the midpoint of the cloth and continue the fastening process outwards, stapling the cloth to the ends of the drum with a 1-inch space between each staple. You will need cloth which is the same circumference of your drum, minus 1/2 inch.

Ensure the cloth is smooth with the cylinder's surface.

Trim one end of the cloth with scissors or a sharp knife so it is the right length to fit to the seam. Leave enough blank cloth space so you can fit your staple gun in and use it effectively.

Secure the first end of the cloth with temporary staples and put the other cloth end on top of the first.

Mark where the seam falls on the second end and trim it to sit flush against the first end. Take out the temporary staples and secure the two ends together, ensuring the staples are fixed evenly over the seam.

Installing the Axle

Slide a dowel, which is substantial enough to carry the drum's weight without straining, through the drum's center hole.

Adjust the dowel's position and secure it in place by hammering small pieces of wood into the space between the dowel and the center hole. You can use wood pieces of any size, but they will need to be sizable enough to secure the dowel effectively.

Repeat this process at the other end.

Mounting the Carding Drum

Mount the carding drum on a stand with curtain rod support brackets to hold the axle in place. Make sure you know which way to turn the drum. The wires will card successfully in only one direction. After a slight turn each way, the correct direction should become evident.

Attach the second mount for the axle in position after the first one has been secured to the base. The axle and spacer rings should be used as support, and situated close to the ends of the drum.

Attach a handle to the axle.

Drill a hole through the axle dowel.

Push a smaller dowel, used for the handle, through the hole drilled in the axle dowel. Ensure that the smaller dowel fits snugly when pushed through.

Tip

Once you have received the carding cloth, let it sit on a flat surface naturally for a day. If it has been delivered to you, it will probably have been rolled up. It is easier to handle when flat.

The fiber needs to be well teased before carding. For best results you should burnish the fiber down with a brush.

Warning

You must have a firm slat on which to staple the ends of the carding cloth. If their seam falls on a space between slats, it will not hold.

About the Author

Christopher Tebbutt started writing professionally in 2004. He's had content published on both the "Guardian" and "TimeOut" magazine's websites, amongst others. He has written for internationally renowned brands such as Burberry, Boots and Party Gaming. He has also worked for journalists within the BBC, Reuters and BSkyB as a researcher. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in politics and history from Nottingham Trent University.