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:
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):
- drum cleaner
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:
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.
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)
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!