How to Use a Drum Carder in Three Steps

Learn how you can use a drum carder for making larger batts and hand carders to make a large amount of fiber quickly.

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Whether you are an experienced crafter chasing the perfect yarn or a beginner looking for an outlet for your creative talents, The Complete Guide to Spinning Yarn (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2012) by Brenda Gibson will inspire you to get spinning. Beginners can learn basic techniques, from preparing and dyeing fiber to drop spindle spinning and wheel spinning, while more advanced spinners can explore recipes for a range of textured and colorful yarns.

Carding more thoroughly opens up the fibers and frees them of tangles and debris than teasing alone.

Carding may also be used as a blending process for different fibers or colors, and the end preparation will tend to contain some variety of fiber length (consequently, a different preparation is used for worsted spinning). Carding may be done using a drum carding machine or using a pair of hand carders (visit the link below to learn how to use hand carders).

How to Use a Drum Carder

A drum carder is a useful piece of equipment when you have a large amount of fiber for processing and, as a larger item, it is something often bought by a group or spinners’ guild for shared use. It consists of two drums–large and small–and a handle for turning the drums at different speeds, as well as a feed tray.

1. Start by placing a small amount of fiber (such as teased fleece) on the feed tray with the tips just reaching the small drum and start to turn the handle. The fiber will attach itself to the smaller drum and will transfer to the larger one. Do not hang onto the fiber on the feed tray, otherwise it will embed itself too deeply on the smaller drum, prevent effective carding, and make for a more difficult cleaning job later. Continue to place more fiber on the feed tray until all the fiber has been processed or the larger drum is full and the teeth are covered.

2. Stop the larger drum when the channel in the card clothing is at the top. Run the supplied metal rod along the channel, and lift upward to break the layers of fiber apart in preparation for removing them.

3. Take hold of the forward portion of the sheet of fibers (the batt) and slowly start to rotate the handle in reverse, maintaining a little tension on the batt, and release it fully from the drum. This is known as “doffing the batt.” Inspect the batt for thoroughness of carding; it may need more. If so, split the batt lengthwise into two or more strips and tease each out to the approximate width of the smaller drum and repeat the process. As with hand carding, the carded batt is now ready to make a rolag for woolen spinning.

Removing the Batt from the Drum Carder

It can be helpful to place a dishcloth over the larger drum and roll the batt around that rather than simply lifting it off. This can help a delicate batt of fine fibers hold together better.

More from The Complete Guide to Spinning Yarn:

Drop Spindle Spinning Made Easy
Six Steps to Hand Carding Wool

book cover with coiled yarn on it

From The Complete Guide to Spinning Yarn: Techniques, Projects and Recipes © 2012 by Brenda Gibson. Reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press. All rights reserved.

  • Updated on Nov 20, 2021
  • Originally Published on Oct 20, 2014
Tagged with: batt, carding, drum carder, fiber
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