Drum roll, please!

For some time now I’ve been wanting a drumcarder. They’re expensive things, though, and I resisted until I was sure I’d have a use for one. Also, they take up space and are really prickly to accidentally brush against when walking across a room, so they really need their own “station” in a studio.

I did some research and found that the hand-cranked versions start at around $600 and go rapidly upward from there. The electric ones are predictably extravagantly more expensive and really, are overkill for what I need at present.

Somewhat discouraged, I decided to defer the purchase. I toyed with the idea of making one myself, but figured that it was impractical at present. Then I happened upon this review of a Brother Drumcarder (Note: no connection with the sewing machine folks). I read, researched and contacted a few people who had bought them (they’re a fairly new company) and the feedback I got was that they are no frills workhorses that function perfectly well. Since “workhorse” is a quality I look for in all my tools, from sewing machines to spinning wheels to cars, I figured this just might do me. Then there was the cost:

Big box! Great packing!

Price: $280USD
Shipping to Canada: $30USD (free within the US at the time of writing this blog)
Taxes (Canadian): $18 CDN (duty-free, as it’s made in the USA  and therefore falls under NAFTA)

Much better, providing the product is worth it. I crossed my fingers that my research was enough and  I ordered one. They shipped it the next day (Feb 28) from Oregon. It arrived yesterday (March 10) here in Newfoundland.

Not bad at all. As an aside, the carder was packed really well in a moving box and the actual postage was about $55USD, so the extra $30 for shipping to Canada was probably warranted.

Things not included (just so as you are aware of what else you’ll need):

  • doffer
  • brush
  • drum cleaner
  • clamp

The one I ordered has 120 teeth per inch on the main drum and is right-handed (although they do make them for lefties, which is nice). They also make coarser drums which you can order for around $150. This enables you to switch the drums for various fibres or purposes.

After opening it up, this is what I had:

Before aligning the drums

It didn’t come with a doffer (pointy stick-thingy for getting the batt off the drum, but I use a knitting needle and have no trouble. Nor did it come with a brush, but I use a wallpaper brush to pack the fibres on and it works great. It also needed a couple of clamps to keep it from waltzing across the table, but I have clamps a-plenty here.

The only thing I wasn’t too fussed about was the finishing job, as it seems to have a few rough edges here and there. Nothing that five minutes with some sandpaper won’t fix easily, though. At some point I might also slap some Varathane on it, if the spirit moves me. Can’t really complain, given the price.

So I decided to give it a whirl on some nice fleece. I hand-picked a bit of the Corriedale/Romney that I washed the other day and fed it in very gradually. When the drum was nice and full, I removed the batt, divided it in three strips, fluffed them out sideways a bit and fed each one through, one after the other. Then I did that again. Total passes: 3. As I fed the strips of batt through, I placed my hand on them in the bed of the carder to slow them down as they got sucked in. This distributed the fibres more evenly, I think.

DSC05152Here’s the batt after three passes, lying next to some of the clumps of fibre I started with.

After and before
Against the light. You can see the lack of clumps or neps.

Resulting batt: 41g (about an ounce and a half)

22″ long and 10″ wide (the carder is 8″ wide, but the batt fluffs up when it comes off)

Quality? Excellent!!

Over the next few days I’ll be playing with different fibres and blending things, so I’ll give it a really good workout and let you know how it fares!


11 Comments Add yours

  1. preita says:

    I love mine too but like you I wish it was finished a little finer than it is.

  2. Barbara Low says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience with your new carder. Mine just arrived, and seeing your resulting batt assures me that I have a good piece of equipment. 🙂

    1. VickyTH says:

      Hey Barbara, just take careful pains to make sure you line the barrels up right. I found it required a bit of shimmying and loosening and re-tightening to get them the right distance apart (1/16″ of an inch) and completely in-line. You’ll need to tighten one, pull the other clear of the tines and align it before putting them the right distance apart.

      Also, you can use your hand card (if you have one) to get the bulk of the fluff off when cleaning and then your vacuum (sans heads) and doffer or steel knitting needle to completely clean it with relatively little hassle. LOVE the vacuum for this!!

  3. Barbara says:

    Thanks for all the advice, Vicky. They’ll be helpful when it’s time for me to do the adjusting. I had just spoken to John, from Brother, to ask about adjusting the distance between the drums and to true them up. Despite being carefully packed, they had shifted some in transport.
    I have a long knitting needle and hand cards for removing fiber; just have to get the wallpaper brush and I’ll be all set.

  4. Tami says:

    Brother has been advertising in the local Craigslist and I wondered about them. They have an awesome price and they’re really really local to me, so I could save on shipping.

    Definitely going to set aside some tax money to get one of these! Thank you for the lovely review!

  5. Mosha says:

    I am interested in purchasing a Brother carter and thought it would nice if there was some feedback on it and there is. Thanks for the info,
    Jim and Sue

  6. sara says:

    Just wanted to let everyone know I recently purchased the electric Brother Carder and it seems like a great product. I especially like the fact they use the poly belts, makes for a smooth and quiet running machine and they, (Brother) warranty the belts lifetime.

    P.s I paid the $50 and ordered mine finished, and, wow!, very nice.

  7. VickyTH says:

    That’s great to know, Sara! I’m hoping to be reviewing an electric carder very soon and will be posting a new video. Have you had any issues with yours or things that took a little figuring or getting used to? They look like very solid machines.

  8. Connie says:

    Hi! I also purchased the Brother Drum Carder. I was glad to know I was not the only one who had to tinker with the spacing. I am very pleased with it’s performance. I will soon be carding up my first fleece and could not imagine prepping batts without a carder! Thanks for sharing!

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