How to Prepare Fiber with a Drum Carder
Drum carders do essentially the same job as hand cards. The advantage of a drum carder is how much quicker it can process fiber. The disadvantage is that drum carders are relatively expensive. If you plan to process large amounts of fiber, a drum carder is a good investment. They also allow you to prepare more fiber at one time and to make larger batts. They can be turned by hand or with an electric motor. Electric drum carders give you the advantage of speed, and free your hands so that you can easily feed the fiber into the carder.
1Lightly tease the washed fiber apart, and place it on the bed of the carder.
You can move the drums on carders a bit closer or farther apart for different fibers. The closer the teeth, the more vigorous the carding will be; the farther apart, the more delicate it will be. The fiber will be carded faster if the teeth are close together, but it will have to be a sturdy fiber—mohair, Romney, or Lincoln, for instance. For delicate fibers like cashmere, fine wools, and Angora rabbit, try setting the drums farther apart. For most carders, a credit-card thickness is the ideal distance between the teeth.
2Turn the drums.
As you turn the drums, the fiber should be drawn in. The teeth on both drums comb the fiber apart. Place the fiber so that the back drum fills up evenly.
Some carders come with an attachment that allows you to press the fiber into the teeth in order to make a dense batt. If you do not have this attachment, use a floor brush and press it along the drum as the drum turns.
3When the back drum is full, use the doffer to take off the batt. Run the doffer along the groove that is left at the end seam of the carding cloth.
The doffer is a sturdy metal rod with a handle; it usually comes with the carder but not always.
5Take a slicker or a dowel and roll off the batt.
A slicker is a wooden dowel with a plastic sheet attached to it. By catching the loose end of the fiber around the dowel and rolling it tight, the slicker lifts the fiber out of the carding teeth and keeps the batt in perfect order.