My solution came about somewhat by accident. My husband built me a drum carder, to avoid the expense of buying one, and we happened to have some carding cloth left over. He asked what he should do with it. On a whim I said to nail it to a board that would be large enough to clamp the board to a tabletop. Hence, the carding board was born. I had yet to realize how useful it could be.
As I learned to use the carder, I initially opened the tips of the fiber with a flick card prior to feeding it through. This made for numerous steps of: selecting the lock, picking up the flick card, carding the tips, turning the lock, flicking the butt end, placing the lock on the in-feed tray, cleaning the flick card, and repeating. I had a new appreciation for carding mills almost immediately.
Then I realized that I had this board that could be clamped to the table in front of the carder. It only took a quick rake of each lock over the carding board and it could be placed on the in-feed tray, ready to go. The board did fill with neps and debris, but a tool from the hardware store that is used to clean files makes an excellent carding cloth cleaner. The flick card could also be used to clean the carding board, but I don’t really want to risk damaging my flick card.
My next use of the carding board is to place it on my lap as I spin washed locks. Once again it reduces the step of picking up the flick card and putting it down again. It really speeds up spinning from the lock, which is the major drawback to this spinning technique.
The carding board can also be used to audition fiber blends before putting them into the drum carder. We all know how time consuming it is to clean a drum carder when you want to change fibers. Auditioning a fiber blend with the carding board can save you from committing your carder to creating an entire bat.
I now find myself using the carding board more than the drum carder and the flick card, so next time I will order a foot of carding cloth rather than a yard.
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