Drum Carding Basics

Distinguishing Features

Ratio – how many times the lickerin turns for each revolution of the main drum
The higher the ratio, the better for blending
4 or 5:1 works as well for me as 24-34:1

Tpsi – teeth per square inch
The more tpsi the better suited for finer fibers ( i.e. 98 – 128) and the fewer tpsi the better suited for coarse fibers ( i.e. 23 – 46)

Depth of teeth – the deeper the bigger the batt
3/8” gets you a 1-2 oz batt – 1” gets you a 2-4 oz batt

Flexibility of the tine –
I don’t notice a huge difference in function myself

Intake tray – more room is better

Motorization – easier but more expensive

Width of the drum – the wider the more efficient
Roving carders – 4”
“petite” – 6.5”
Regular – “8”
Wide – 12”+



Burnishing tool or brush attachment – to keep fibers neat and even in the batt
Doffer – to clean the batt between cardings
Batt picker – ice pick like tool for removing the batt from the drum
Paper towel tubes – for removing batt from the drum
Tissue paper – for really delicate removal from the drum
Onion bag – some use this to keep drum clean


Carding raw wool
Blending colors
Blending fibers
Turn top into batt for ease of laying out a project
To “liven” commercially prepared fibers

General Techniques

Avoid tugging back on wool while running the carder
This will clump the wool around the lickerin

Avoid feeding too much at 1 time
This will clump the wool around the lickerin


Card each color individually first

1. If you want the colors to completely blend to form a new color…
On first pass, alternate thin layers of each color
Remove batt
Split down center
Tease wider
Pass thru a second time
Repeat above steps for as many passes as you need to blend to desired effect

2 . If you want to “mix”, but not “blend” colors…
On the first pass:
Add colors in randomly
Align the colors vertically
Align the colors horizontally
Combine layers of horizontal and vertical

Remove batt
Do not split lengthwise
Run 2nd pass

Blending Fibers
They need to be about the same length for a “even” blend
Cut if necessary
If they’re not the same length you’ll get less blending…not that this is bad, it may be what you want…a more distinct separation is often what I want with silk, which is longer anyway than most wools, so I don’t worry about them being different lengths

Card each fiber separately first, then apply same principles as for blending colors depending on whether you want a complete blend or a “mix”

To work in “novelties” like Angelina, bits of yarn, reeled silk, “sandwich” the novelty between layers of the wool before feeding in