Hand-Made Drum Carder Gets Wool Ready For Spinning

Making a natural fiber like wool into something useful like a sweater involves a lot of steps. We might be familiar with shearing the sheep, spinning the wool into yarn, or knitting and weaving, but between shearing and spinning there’s another unfamiliar process you’ll have to go through. Known as carding, it helps align the fibers so they are able to be spun, and of course it requires either an expensive tool, or one you build on your own.

This drum carder is exactly what it sounds like. It uses two drums covered in a metal mesh, spinning at different speeds, which pull the fibers into an orderly shape. Small drum carders like this can run around $600 but with some quality wood and a lathe you can easily make one for a fraction. Making the series of drums is fairly straightforward with a lathe, and from there you need to make sure they are connected with a quality belt or chain and then covered in the appropriate metal mesh.

[kris] notes in the reddit comments section that he’d like for a second version to spin a little faster and be a little more durable, but this is a great working carder nonetheless. From there you’ll want to move on to spinning the wool into yarn, which you can do with either a wheel or an electric motor.

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Electric Spinning Wheel

spinningwheel

[glacialwanderer], who you may remember from his CNC machine build, recently completed an electric spinning wheel. Spinning wheels are used by knitters to turn raw sheep’s wool into yarn. He went through several iterations before arriving at a good design. Besides the motor, there are two major components to the spinning wheel: the flyer and the bobbin. A Scotch tension brake is used to slow the rotation of the bobbin in relation to the flyer. This causes the wool to twist as it’s pulled on.

He initially tried to just use a dimmer switch with an AC motor. That quickly burnt up. The next version used a sewing machine motor since they’re designed with a variable speed control. Unfortunately, it didn’t have enough torque at low speeds. The final design used a DC motor with a SyRen motor controller. It offered plenty of power and at ~$150 it’s still less than the cheapest commercial models on eBay. You can see a video of it and the spinning process embedded below.

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