Three Key Features of Clemes & Clemes Drum Carders

There are many tools available for preparing fibers for spinning and felting. Perhaps one of the most iconic is the drum carder. Available with hand cranks or electric motors (or both!), drum carders are incredibly versatile fiber preparation tools.

What is a Drum Carder?

A Drum Carder is used for preparing fleece for hand spinning and felting.

Drum carders are machines that are commonly used for preparing large quantities of fleece or blends and creating heathers, tweeds, and homogeneous blends.  As we’ve written about before, drum carders may seem like just a larger, mechanized version of hand cards, but they are so much more. Most people are familiar with making semi-worsted batts on a drum carder, but they also produce woolen batts, carded sliver (roving), and rolags.

When designed and built properly, a drum carder can be a fiber artist’s best friend. While there are many drum carders available in today’s market, a Clemes & Clemes drum carder is a cut above the rest.

Why a Clemes & Clemes Drum Carder?

As a fiber artist, we know that your tools are an extension of you. Picking the right tool is paramount to creating your artist vision or producing value from your flock. With so many options for drum carders available on the market, how do you know that selecting a Clemes & Clemes drum carder is right for you?

1. Mastering the Craft for Half a Century

 A well-used Standard Drum Carder built in 1978. This carder was recently sent to us for refurbishment after more than four decades of use.

The first Clemes & Clemes drum carder hit the market nearly 50 years ago, when Henry designed our Standard carder after years of frustration with the carders available at the time. How was he going to continue selling the spinning wheels he made, when people could not purchase a decent drum carder? The rest, as they say, is history.

Our Standard Drum Carder remains in production to this day, with only minor changes. We often see our early carders back in the shop for a tune-up and new set of drums, and proudly send them on their way for their next 30 or 40 years of service. Decades of feedback on the Standard lead us to create the Elite Series – the pinnacle of drum carding for the home hobbyist, professional artist, or small flock shepherd.

We also teach drum carding classes to hundreds of students all around the US every year. We love teaching and find ourselves inspired by our students after each and every workshop. Our years in the fiber arts industry, as well as years of woodworking experience, combine to bring you a tool designed and created with your needs in mind. Each drum carder is meticulously handcrafted in our woodshop in California, not mass produced in a large factory or warehouse.

2. It’s about the teeth, not the TPI

A close-up view of mill-style carding cloth. Each tooth comes to a sharp point to prevent the creation of neps and noils.

All Clemes & Clemes drum carders feature our proprietary mill-style carding cloth. This cloth was engineered to card and blend efficiently without damaging fibers. Our carding cloth has 72 teeth per inch, but we think the discussion about TPI is nothing more than a marketing gimmick. Our competitors sell coarse (~54 TPI), medium (~72-90 TPI), and fine (~120 TPI) carding cloth. Once you have purchased all three, you will find you have machines specifically built for destroying coarse, medium, and fine fibers. 

With our mill-style cloth, each tooth is sharpened to a point. As each individual fiber approaches the sharpened teeth, it will either go to the left or right of a tooth. With generic carding cloth, the teeth are clipped and left with a blunt, flat end. No matter whether the drum has 50 or 200 teeth per inch, fiber will get caught on those blunt ends and create neps.

Likewise, mill-style cloth is only produced in narrow strips called fillets rather than wide sheets. These narrow strips can be installed more precisely than sheets, meaning our drum diameters are more consistent. This allows us to narrow the spacing between the lickerin and swift on our drum carders, for a more efficient carding action and without damaging fiber.

Drum carder parts sit on a drying rack after receiving a lacquer coating.

3. All the Options with no Compromises

In addition to best-in-the-market design, construction, and durability, there is a Clemes & Clemes drum carder for every budget and situation. While each model offers slightly different options, all Clemes & Clemes drum carders are handcrafted without compromises. Whether you decide the no-frills Standard Series or the top-of-the-line Elite Series is for you, you’ll love these features:

  • Our proprietary mill-style carding cloth.
  • Unmatched premium materials such as oak hardwood.
  • Ability to card nearly all fibers, from wool to cotton to alpaca – often in only one pass.
  • An easy to use tool that requires minimal maintenance.

Each and every Clemes & Clemes drum carder is expertly crafted, assembled, and tested in our woodshop in Pinole, California. We place our name on each and every carder, and that means something to us. No item leaves our woodshop that does not represent our highest standards for craftsmanship and quality.

So, why do you need a Clemes & Clemes Drum Carder?

Each drum carder is branded with our iconic logo featuring our family name and home town.

“I wish I would have bought your carder first!”

Time and again, we hear from customers who purchased an inexpensive carder and are unhappy with both the carding quality and disposable nature of the machine they purchased. So, while you can certainly purchase a carder for less money, you can save yourself money, time, agony, and damaged fiber by buying your second carder first. No other drum carder on the market offers the same quality, versatility, and excellence as a Clemes & Clemes. Have questions about our drum carders? Don’t hesitate to reach out to us and ask.

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