Thought I would start a discussion about drum carders. I am going to be purchasing one soon, and looking for some viewpoints.
Which ones do you have? What do you like about it? What do you not like about it? What types of fibers do you run through it?
It must be synchronicity- I just logged on to post a request for info about drum carders because I too am thinking of purchasing one, and here is thread just waiting to answer my questions. I hope there will be lots of hits as I am not really sure where I want to start.
I was sort of thinking of the louet since the works are enclosed and it sounds like it to should have less maintainance that the others (?). Does fine or coarse cloth make that much of a difference? If the new Ashford Wild is so great at blending, how is it for regular carding? Why can't I just blend on a regular one?
Anyone out there got opinions, and/or experience or suggestiions about the different makes and models available,
Thanks, in advance,
Te he.. I am planning on using most of my tax refund to purchase mine.
In regards to your question regarding the cloth, the amount does make a difference in the types of fleece you will be processing. I mainly have alpaca and merino.. so I will be going with the finer carding cloth.
From what I understand from my research.. all carders will blend. Some are manufactured specifically for this purpose, but all will do the job.
I am personally leaning towards either the Strauch or the Fancy Kitty Kitten. I like that both have the optional motor. Not to mention, the asthetics. I like the look of wood, as opposed to the laminate of Louet. While the enclosed gears are something I like, I was just not impressed with the features of the product.
I too, am hoping for a lot of feedback with this thread. I have not been able to find a lot of articles with cross comparrisons for each model. Nor have I found a coherent explanation of what the gear ratio mean and how they relate to the task at hand.
Found the following comment on a forum on "knitter's review". I'll try adding the whole post instead of just a link but it may be too long. The link is: http://www.knittersreview.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=50545&whichpage=5 in case it doesn't work or you want to check out the rest of the comments. Lots of useful info here:
"I'll chime in here. Be prepared for a LONG post! If you want detail, I have detail... I debated and debated all through the past 6-8 months on the merits of various carders, and talked to everyone. I had about convinced myself to buy the Pat Green "Deb's Deluxe" simply on the fact that Deb Menz had a say in the design of it. But that is NOT what I bought! I phoned and spoke with Paula Simmons (who is Mrs. Pat Green, and a well-known spinner I guess), and she did go on about the triple picker, which to me looks like a medieval torturing device, and I didn't want to buy it. But she insisted that it really was necessary to use this device first or ruin your carder. First negative. Then, she told me that I would not be able to use the "fur drum" which comes standard on the "Deb's Deluxe" without buying another drum to handle anything that was not merino, silk, or extra fine fibers. NOT even kid mohair could be done on this drum... it was buy another drum for kid mohair, or all my lamb fleeces from BFL, Cormo, Icelandic, or Shetland... buy another drum, more $$$. I was aghast. All the fleeces I buy are first quality, and very soft, clean. I also use lots of silk, and started playing with bamboo, so I was concerned. The $$ were mounting, and THEN it was, well, basically nothing comes with the drum, it's buy all the accessories, extra. Stopped me dead in my tracks.Moved on to talk to *** Duncan in Oregon. Great carders, but big waiting list... and he uses a lower, coarser cloth, but says that it will card it all, including the fine ones, with no issues, and of course, he was the developer of the brush attachment. He recommended, that due to my repetitive stress injuries and fibromyalgia, I should get an electric carder... okay, now we are again well over $1000.Discussed that carder made in the Netherlands with the owner of company. Was not convinced that what they had was "as good as anything I could get here", and the specs weren't what I wanted for finer fibers. Passed.Moved on to discuss Louet with several people who sell them, and who also sell other brands. They ALL, without exception, suggested I buy another brand... and interestingly enough, the same brand. (I don't know why they bother selling the Louet at all? maybe because they sell the wheels and the Louet wheel owners want the same brand carder?) I was told that the Louet "meshing of teeth" caused more noils in fine fibers than any other brand... I was told this by several people, that the Louet will cause noils due to the grinding/meshing of those gears, and that we are sold on the idea that what is being caught in those front mesh is the bad stuff, and it is, but that the carder is causing half of it! EEW. Not going there!To stay away from Ashford as too wimpy. The wholesale overwhelming recommendation from most sellers of more than one brand of carder was the former Fricke/now Strauch carder. So I picked up the phone and called Otto Strauch in Virginia. A "retired" engineer, he didn't want to re-invent the wheel, he looked at what was out there, thought Curt Fricke had the best, most innovative design with the licker-in drum, and bought the carder business from him.(Mr. Fricke, by the way, is less than 5 miles from where my husband teaches school), and is still in business making inexpensive spinning wheels, and fabulous skein winders, ball winders, etc. He only sold the carder part of the business). Mr Strauch was very helpful, answered all my questions and concerns. He explained that the brush attachment that he puts on the Strauch carders is obtained from *** Duncan, who owns the patent, and that he has made a number of improvements to the carder since purchasing it from Fricke. I asked him about an electric carder, due to my physical issues, and he told me that if I couldn't turn the handle on his carder with two fingers, easily, I was putting too much fiber through. Period. He does not sell an electric model. However, he does offer instructions and information on how to do a conversion for those customers who insist the need it. (that impressed me... it is not available for all the models, but some). He guaranteed I would like it, or he would take it back. He explained that extra or different drums were not necessary, that the licker in, combined with the 128 pin big drum, would handle ALL fibers, even the most coarse, though of course, if that were all I were doing, he'd make it for me with a coarser cloth to begin with. You have a choice as to what cloth you get on your drum. I named him every fiber I use now or anticipated using, and he unequivically said YES, no problem, to every one. I could not come up with a question or a problem, issue, etc. that he did not have an answer for, though a couple took him a few moments' thought. We talked about belts vs chain drive; about that extra drum stuff (he says that then you have to fool around adjusting the drums to get them back in proper alignment, and how unnecessary it really was to purchase one in the first place), about teasing and other fiber prep before carding, blending, etc. I even called him back about 10 days later and grilled him more on other things I'd thought of in the meantime. I called him at dinner time, and was embarrassed (he's in Virginia, I'm in Washington), but he was quite kind, and proceeded to answer all my questions, thoroughly. We'd pretty much decided that due to the face that I buy more than 3-4 fleeces a year,I like blending a lot, and my physical issues, that the Strauch Finest, was the best choice for me. It WAS more than I initially intended to spend. He said that for someone who does NOT buy and process fleece themselves, or maybe only one or two a year, could just as easily buy the least expensive, Petite, and get the same quality features, but without the chain drive, and the blending ratio would be lower. The Finest is a ratio of 5 to 1, I believe. It's big, it is high enough that it doesn't have to be clamped down or put close to the edge of the table, the handle clears entirely with the carder placed anywhere on your surface. It does come with the clamps, but I've never used them. No need.I expressed concern with the fact that the Icelandic lamb fleeces have two different forms of true fleece, the tog and the thel, and wondered how well the carder would handle it. He didn't have much experience with it, but he thought I would have no trouble.The Strauch Finest model comes with EVERYTHING you need, there is nothing else to buy! Picker, doffer brush, cleaning brush for the lickerin drum, and a teasing tool with clamp to attach it to the table next to the carder, all are standard equipment. Lifetime guarantee on labor... if drum cloth needs replacing, ship it back, you pay for the materials, but the labor to bring it back to new again is no charge.I've had it for several months now. Here's what I think: I made absolutely the right decision. It actually DOES turn with two fingers, effortlessly. A little flicking or teasing and I can feed the fiber directly into the carder, without the torture-chamber expensive swinging picker!Someone said that the Strauch would not weed out the little second cuts and etc., and that they'd end up in your batt; I have not found that to be so. What few I have had, fell out off the licker-in drum on their way in to the big drum, as well as quite a bit of VM. Yes, you do still have to pick out the burrs...they aren't going to fall out on anyone's carder, but the basic VM and cuts of between 1/4" to 1/3" are mostly going to fall out, or you will see them catch on the tips of the drum and can just stop, take your hand and pick them off, and continue to turn the drum. The brush is wonderful for finer fibers and keeping them out of the air and ON the drum. If too much fiber accumulates on the licker-in, then look to see if your drum is full. You can turn the handle for a revolution while pushing the brush down slightly, and then see if it doesn't start picking up the fiber off the licker-in again. If not, it could be because you are carding exceptionally long fibers and you are holding your hand on them when you are feeding them in, which causes them to wrap completely around the small licker-in, and prevents the bigger drum from taking them off. But if you will carefully pull them off the licker-in, check them for quality, and then allow them to feed through on their own, generally the big drum will take them. Look underneath the carder while you are working and see the amount of junk that starts to accumulate by falling out of the carding area under the licker-in and the big drum. No useable fiber there, but all sorts of "ick".I'm very pleased. I completely disagree with someone who said that the Strauch doesn't blend as well as the Pat Green Deb's Deluxe. I think blending is as much "operator skill" as the carder. I have some batts I purchased from someone else, who has a Deb's Deluxe, with angora rabbit, wool, and angelina fibers in it. Their batts are not blended well at all, and are completely filthy with VM as well. I am not going to be able to use them until I try to pick them of the worst of the VM, and then run through my carder. There are big chunks of fibers that aren't really blended enough to be caught within the main fiber. If that were the only example I'd ever seen of a PG carder, I'd really think poorly of it. I don't... because I know it is capable of better. But I do think that I got the best out there. If I ever want an electric carder, I can convert my "Finest"... for a pittance compared to the price of an electric carder. If I want a big electric carder, then I will buy one from Judith MacKenzie-McCuin, who does make them in limited amounts, and they are amazing. They are also $1600. I don't want one THAT badly! I highly recommend Strauch. Oh, by the way. If you order one direct from him, or any dealer, the shipping SHOULD be free, at least on the upper end machines. I don't know about the petite. But I have a friend who does only blending, and the occasional fleece, and she's been very happy with her Petite for 4 years now. I ordered my Finest direct from Mr. Strauch, and it was built for me and delivered free, from the factory, for the purchase price. Which unfortunately, increased to $649.00 US on January 7, 2007. It's still a great deal, IMO.Hope this helps! Sorry for being long winded, but I wanted to be thorough."
Thanks for that link. I found that in my research for reviews. It was very informative. However, since it was written in 2006, I was hoping for more recent views.
In addition, it did not mention the Fancy Kitten Carder, which is one of the models I am looking at. Thanks again!
Well thank you, m'dear, for such a detailed and factual post.
I am grateful that you appreciate all the care that I put into making my drum carders.
Allow me to give you some updates:
1. At Strauch Fiber Equipment Co we do listen to our customers. I now have a motorized series of "Finest" drum carders in addition to the motor upgrade service available for my Finest brand manual models.
2. Duncan's patent expired so he has agreed to allow me to manufacture the brush attachment for my carders.
3. Years of testing and
positive feedback from customers has proven that using our brush attachment
produces the highest quality batt. So, effective Jan 1, 2010, all Strauch drum carders come with our brush attachment as standard equipment.
4. And.......something new.......follow "Strauch
Fiber" on Twitter
Like pictures? Check out our fun blog at
Anyone can always contact me directly at email@example.com if they have any specific questions,
That was my post, on Knitter's Review, which was quoted by CDN.
Otto, if I'd have seen this months ago, when it was posted (and I was quoted, without name), I'd have also mentioned the motorized versions available, and also that I continue to be satisfied with the Strauch Finest.
Oh, and I have looked at the Fancy Kitty Carders, and am quite impressed with Ron's workmanship and the new larger, motorized carder he has made. He makes excellent products also. If I could have two carders, and had room for two, I'd have both, just so I wouldn't have to clean so very thoroughly between carding projects! Ron's are without a question, prettier and "fancier", as his trade name implies. But I would contend that the Strauch is a heavy duty carder, and I would want that chain drive if I had a lot of carding to do of fleeces. Blending... not so much. For just blending of the beautiful fine wools, cashmere, silks, and camel, and colors, I'd go with the Fancy Kitty... just for the beauty of it. But it really depends on each person's needs and preferences. For me, form follows function, and then beauty, not the other way around.
PS: still don't have it motorized...still have fibromyalgia, and repetitive stress injuries, but it's working like the day I bought it!
Hope this helps, again, updated for August 2010.
Excellent, Elaine, I'm pleased that your Finest meets all your expectations.
We've had such great response to our motorized carders. You're correct that they are heavy duty machines. Some of our customers run them all day long with no issues. One comment that we've had is that the infinitely variable speed of the motor allows an incredible amount of control for producing uniform batts without worrying about the motor bogging down or changing speed when feeding varying amounts of fiber.
As far as blending fibers goes, the motorized Finest makes blending a dream! You will be amazed how effortlessly silk, cashmere, camel, alpaca, and so on can be custom blended into whatever your heart desires.
It's great that in the fiber world there is enough variety that everyone can find the equipment that best suits their needs. Naturally, I hope that when you're ready to go motorized, you'll give us a call.
I pray that your fibromyalgia will not push you into making a decision sooner than when you are ready,
Elaine, this was SOOO helpful! Thanks for doing all the research and for giving up so much detail. You've saved me a great deal of agonizing!
Just to let everyone know, Strauch DOES have electric carders now.
One day I will need to purchase something bigger (as I have my own sheep now and soon a couple of Alpacas) so have plenty to card, but until I save up enough I would like an opinion on a wild carder -v- standard drum carder. I purchased an Ashford WIld Carder when I received my first wheel. It is great for funky fibres but should I be able to card normally on a Wild Carder. Haveing not used a normal carder, should I be able to produce nice smooth batts and roving after running it through the Wild Carder?
Hopefully someone has used both and can provide some advice.
Thanks in advance.
We picked up an Ashford Drum Carder on E-bay for 150$ and I love using it
The only problem I have seen with it, is the small width of the drum. I have processed only 1lb of wool on it and a few hand dyed batts.
I am debating about getting a larger one. I would like a 24" diameter back wheel one
Do you need hand painted wool or hand dyed fiber feel free to stop by my store and see if there is anything you like
I'm getting back into spinning after about twenty years. Somewhere along the way, I seemed to have lost my drum carder, and I've been shocked at the current prices. Then tonight, I opened a cedar chest to get out my niddy-noddy and my swift, and there was my drum carder! It a Clemes and Clemes, and I remember it working wonderfully. All it needed was a new drive belt, so I phoned Clemes and Clemes in California at about 9:30 EST, and they were still there. I ordered the belt and I'll have it next week. Now they sell for $485. I'm sure it was much less when I bought it around 1980! If I hadn't found it, I was going to buy a new Clemes.