How to make a wool drum carder

Written by helen sterling
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How to make a wool drum carder
Carding aligns wool fibres in preparation for spinning. (wool abstract image by Dancer 01 from

Carding wool is the process of opening and aligning wool fibres in preparation for spinning. Drum carders can help card larger quantities of wool and can greatly speed up the process compared to using hand carders. They work well for blending and mixing different types of wool. Making your own drum carder can save money over purchased carders. Materials are available at most hardware or home improvement centres.

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Things you need

  • 1.8 cm (3/4 inch) plywood, 50 by 30 cm (20 by 12 inches)
  • Eye protection
  • Saw
  • Drill
  • 2 spade bits, 1.5 cm (5/8 inch) and 1.2 cm (1/2 inch)
  • Bench vice
  • Sandpaper
  • 18 wooden slats, 1.8 cm by 22.5 cm (3/4 by 9 inches)
  • Small brads or nails
  • Hammer
  • Carding cloth
  • Staple gun
  • Staples
  • Scissors, knife or razor blade
  • 2 curtain-mounting hardware assemblies
  • Pine board, 2.5 cm (1 inch) thick, 30 by 20 cm (12 by 8 inches)
  • Dowel, 1.8 cm (3/4 inch) diameter
  • Dowel, 1.2 cm (1/2 inch) diameter
  • 1 decorative curtain rod cap or wooden drawer pull
  • 2 wood curtain rings, 2.5 cm (1 inch) diameter
  • Wood glue
  • Decorative brass tacks (optional)

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  1. 1

    Measure and cut two 22.5 cm (9 inch) diameter wooden disks from 1.2 cm (1/2 inch) plywood with a saw. Sand the edges of the disks smooth with sandpaper. Use a spade bit in the drill to make a 2.1 cm (7/8 inch) hole in the centre of each disk. Sand the inside of the hole smooth.

  2. 2

    Cut the wooden slats to 22.5 cm (9 inch) lengths. Smooth the ends if necessary. Nail the slats to the wooden circles with the brads, spacing them evenly around the circles.

  3. 3

    Trim one short end of the carding cloth close to the wires with scissors, a knife or razor blade. Remove the selvedge edge. Align this cut edge along the centre of one of the slats. Staple the selvedge edges of the carding cloth to the slats at either end of the drum using a staple gun. Place one staple at the top and bottom of each slat and avoid hitting the brads attaching the slats.

  4. 4

    Line up the remaining edge of the carding cloth with the previously cut edge. Use a knife, scissors or razor blade to cut the edge of the carding cloth evenly. It should go up against the edge of the cloth already stapled down. Staple the seam where the edges meet by stapling across the two pieces of carding cloth. Place a staple about every 1.8 cm (3/4 inch) and keep the edges aligned and smooth.

  5. 5

    Mount one curtain hardware bracket to one end of the 2.5 cm (1 inch) wide pine board, approximately 2.5 cm (1 inch) from the short edge. Pay attention at this point to which way the wires on the carding cloth are facing. They only work properly when facing in one direction. Determine which way you wish the drum to turn and with which hand you will turn the drum.

  6. 6

    Drill a hole for the handle through one end of the 1.8 cm (3/4 inch) axle dowel with a 1.2 cm (1/2 inch) spade bit approximately 2.5 cm (1 inch) from the end of the axle dowel. Clamp the dowel in a vice.

  7. 7

    Slide the 1.8 cm (3/4 inch) axle dowel through the centre of the drum with the hole drilled for the handle on the opposite end of the drum from where the curtain hardware is attached to the pine board. Slide a 2.5 cm (1 inch) wooden ring on the end of the axle and slide the axle dowel through the curtain hardware bracket. Add a wooden curtain rod finishing cap or wooden drawer pull on the end of the axle dowel to hold it in place.

  8. 8

    Slide the other 2.5 cm (1 inch) wooden ring on the opposite end of the axle dowel. Slide the curtain mounting hardware on the axle and adjust where the hardware will attach to the pine board. The drum needs to turn freely between the mounting hardware without sliding back and forth. Attach the second curtain bracket hardware to the pine board.

  9. 9

    Insert the smaller dowel through the hole in the larger axle dowel to create a handle. If the handle dowel does not fit securely, use a bit of wood glue in the hole to secure the dowel. If desired, attach decorative brass tacks to the ends of the handle and axle.

Tips and warnings

  • Large wooden spools or bobbins can also be used instead of the wooden disks and can be found at antique shops, online auctions and car boot sales for reasonable prices. Avoid those with a metal edging around the circular ends as that is the portion where you nail the slats.
  • Order carding cloth online in the length you desire. The standard width is 20 cm (8 inches). Unroll the carding cloth a day before making the drum carder to allow it to relax and make it easier to work with. Carding cloth comes with a border around the wires, which is the area stapled to the drum.
  • Buy curtain rod mounting hardware that has a complete circle where the curtain rod passes through. This is the portion that holds the dowel and if the hardware doesn't have a complete circle, the dowel will slip out of the hardware.

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