Friday, August 17, 2012

My fiber tumbler

I am often asked how we made our own fiber tumbler, so I will repost this blog entry from two years ago.

I have found this fiber tumbler works great.  The only negative comments I have ever gotten was from someone who markets a fiber contraption that they insist works better.  Not only am I skeptical, but there is a huge price different between making this and buying a contraption.  In the end we all do what we feel is best for our farm, and for my fiber processing, this works great!  I still love it 2 years later.

Here is it from August of 2010:

My wonderful husband is always looking for ways to assist in making fiber production easier. Currently we do everything at our home, which makes it truly hand produced. But, it is time consuming. While I love spinning yarn and knitting up items, I'm not as fond of the flicking of fiber and skirting of fiber. J read about a way to make a fiber tumbler from a dryer. You only need the dryer to spin, no heat (heat will make the fiber felt). He found a dryer on Craig's list that was very cheap, because it only heated half of the time. Since we won't hook up the heat, it's perfect for us. Even more neat, it's a fairly new dryer (I was expecting an ancient dinosaur of a thing), so it's light (easy to transport home), and looks nice too. Not that it matters, it's in my fiber room:

We plugged the electric in so the dryer will run (tumble).  We did not vent it outside since it is not hooked up to heat (which for us would be propane), and because it is in a not quite finished part of our basement.  You could vent it outside and then the extra dirt and debris would go outside.  But if you do that, but sure to clean out your vent frequently.  We just let it vent into the room and I sweep it up frequently (that way there is less chance of a clogged vent).  Some of the debris goes into the lint trap, so I make sure to clean that out after every tumbling load.

To make it into a fiber tumbler, Rare Earth Magnets are glued to the end of nails (he used epoxy to attach the nails to the magnets). Nails and epoxy can be found at most home improvement stores.  For Rare Earth Magnets were found on-line and mailed to us (that was the most expensive part of this project).  The magnets stick to the inside of the dryer, and the nails stand out to stab the fiber.

That's it!  We load a batch of fiber in there, and tumble it for about 20 minutes.  Then it's ready to use.


Norma from Misty Haven Alpacas said...

Fantastic! I've been trying to think of how to possibly do all my fibre at home (or at least more of). The stuff with no guard hair or VM is easy to do and my carder gets a lot out on its own. However, I do have stuff that definitely benefits from the tumbling\dehairing process at the mill. I had just said to my hubby the other day 'I can't afford another piece of fibre equipment' (to which he smartly just stayed quiet).
This is great - thanks for sharing.

Zenitude said...

Wow, how great! I have to find myself a used dryer. I suppose the VM and dirt will collect in the lint basket and all you do is clean that out.
I do have some alpacas that love love love to roll in the dirt. Now off I go to find hubby and show him this!

MSC said...

Thank you sooo much for reposting this and including pictures. We followed the steps you detail and now have our own fiber tumbler for a little over $100!! Now I don't have to pick out every piece of VM with tweezers!!!! :-)

elizabeth miller said...

I really like this idea. I have one question. Do the magnets play a role other than to hold the nails to the drum?

MSC said...

Based on the tumbler we made following this post, the magnets are critical. You need to buy the really strong ones that are suggested because as the drum rolls, the fiber gets broken up by the nails. If the magnets are not strong enough, the fiber will pull the nails (glued to the magnets) loose and will just roll around with the fiber and not break it up.

Darule said...

What a fantastic way to clean up fleece whilst also recycling old machinery. A quick question. What type and length of nails are best?

MSC said...

We bought 3.5" nails...I think they are just common nails. We would have bought 4" nails if we could have found them.

Carolyn L said...

You said you bought common nails. The nails in the picture look kind of swirvy, but you find the regular nails work just fine?


MSC said...

The common nails seem to work fine. I am only guessing....but I would think the fiber might attach to the swirvy nails and not slide off. The only problem I have had is that if I put in too much fiber, it gets all twisted and is hard to pull apart (plus, the tumbling is not getting anything out at that point).

CDA said...

This is such a great idea! So, do you have to wash your fiber as well, or does tumbling take care of the whole cleaning process? We live in the high desert so our fleeces are full of LOTS of dirt and dust. Thanks so much for sharing!

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