Sunday, March 24, 2013

DIY Blending Board for Fiber (lots of photos)

With a plethora of fiber tools out there, I try to save money any way I can by making things myself. In many ways, I feel like I am the antithesis of today's use-it-and-throw-it-away mentality. I love to reuse things in new ways to make them useful again.

With many tools, I have no problem purchasing them straight from manufactures like spinning wheels and drum carders. However, I love to make the simple tools myself. I have a number of handmade crochet hooks, knitting needles, spindles, and so on. You don't think women of the 1800s ran off to Walmart to buy a set of knitting needles, do you?

I already have a DIY Triangle Loom tutorial. Recently, I decided to buy a blending board to take on the road. My drum carders range from 10 to 60 lbs. No way am I hauling those bulky, babies around while trying to keep them (and me!) safe.

After looking around through the various blending boards offered from Clemes & Clemes, Howard Brush, and Etsy. I decided the $160-$250 price tag just wasn't for me. So I decided to go the DIY route and make my own.

1 ea - 12" 72 TPI blending Carding Cloth from Natural Fiber Yarns on Etsy ($65)
1 ea - 15" x 22" cutting board from Walmart ($17)
1 ea - can of 3M Super 77 spray on glue from Walmart ($7)
1 ea - medium grit sandpaper ($3) had on hand
7 dozen - 1/2" staples for my air compressor nail gun had on hand ($3)
Polyurethane spray can had on hand
1 image for transfer (optional)
1 sheet of fabric transfer paper (optional) had on hand
1 - DIY attitude

Air compressor with nail gun
Iron (optional)
Computer with Inkjet Printer (optional)

Sand lightly over entire board. This allows for better bonding with the glue. I choose a larger heavier board, so when I lay it on a table, it doesn't scoot around much. You can have a smaller one of you want or even buy more carding cloth to cover more of the board. It's your choice.

Optional Image Transfer :

 Print the image you want to transfer onto the special Iron Paper by following the instructions provided with the packaging. A couple of notes on this... Make sure you do not buy the type with either the white or black background. It should be clear. Otherwise, you will have a white block around your image. Also, the transfer is not 100% and has an aged look to it. I choose an image that is all black and simpler in design because I knew this would happen. You can look up other ways to transfer images to wood, but I had these supplies on hand, so it didn't cost me anything.

I cut around the edge of the image and placed it on the board where I wanted it. With my iron on the "Cotton" setting, I heated up the image until I could easily peel away the backing and all the ink was transferred to the board.

I repeated this again on the back side with a larger image, so that I have one on the front and one on the back. After cooling, I sanded to left over glue residue around the images off.


Now, for the carding cloth.  You have to prepare the cloth before stapling it onto the board. when it is created and cut, they do not remove the staples on the front and back cut edges. You have to pull a row or two out beforehand to give your staples enough room to fit. I used a metal nail file to take these out. It's really quite simple and only takes about 10 minutes to get done.

See, now there is a nice pile of dead staples.

I placed my cloth on the upper portion on my board. When you add fiber to the work area, it will hang off the bottom a bit. I rationalized that I should leave some room on the lower edge for this. 


Now, it's time to glue. Read and follow directions on the can. I sprayed the back of the cloth and the board itself. (1/18/14 NOTE: I have recently been informed that gluing the entire clothe to the board has been know to disrupt the stability of the tines. If this is an issue for you, please only glue the edges of the clothe down, not the entire surface. I have not had any issues, but it may be better to be safe than sorry.) When they were both tacky, I placed them together for an initial bond and then set a flat medium weight box to add some pressure for better bond. You have to be careful to put enough weight over the entire area to firm hold it together, but not too much to bend the staples. I let this dry overnight. 



The next day, I pulled out my air compressor and staple gun. Using the 1/2 " staples, since these would not go all the way through the board, I stapled around the edge of the carding cloth, spacing the staples 1" apart. The glue will keep the cloth from shifting and the staples will keep it secure. Remember, this is a tool, we want to to last and only doing glue or stapling is not good in the long run.  



I lightly sprayed a polyurethane coat over the exposed wood parts while cover the carding cloth to make sure it didn't get any on it. This seals the wood and protects the images from damage. 


Enjoy your new handmade board! I'm not going to go into how to use it in this blogpost. I think you should just play in to beginning and see what happens. It will not replace my drum carder, but its a great tool that I can take to fiber festivals and on the road.

Also, the cutting board I purchased has these wonderful groves around the edges which work great for placing my dowel rods in so they don't roll away. The only thing I wish it has is a handle and maybe a brace underneath to hold it in my lap like some of the more expensive ones. That's okay though. If you have the tool and gumption, I'm sure you all could do it to your own boards. I sure am happy with the way mine is.

 TOTAL COST: ~$90 since I had some of the things on hand. That's $70 cheaper than the least expensive board online. Actual time I spent on the piece (-drying time) 30 minutes. It's kind of like cooking, if your willing to put some time into it, you can save yourself some money by buying the ingredients and making it yourself.

If you like this or any other DIY tutorials, feel free to donate directly to me using the link below. I truly appreciate anything you can offer to keep me creating. 


Ann said...

Great tutorial. Thanks for sharing with us. Might I ask where you found the delightful image? She is lovely.
Thanks again for the tutorial.

Dawning Dreams said...

Thank you! I found her online a couple of years ago. I saved it to my computer with other spinning images I have. I think it was a Rumpelstiltskin image. It's a lovely image.

Melonie said...

What a wonderful tutorial - thank you! I'll have to ask my dad to make one of these. He loves a good project and is always looking for something to make us that would be really helpful.

My family had a great time chatting with you at Yellow Rose - thanks for taking the time to talk Japan with us. :)

ann l said...

Just wanted to thank you for the tutorial, it is very helpful! I went to a blending board class with Gwen Powell yesterday and had a great time. Luckly 2 other people bought the two clemes and clemes boards she had for sale, I really didn't want to spend that but was tempted.
A number of people in the class had made their own and so I had the info to get the blending cloth ( same as yours), which I ordered today. Went shopping for a cutting board also. I wanted to mention to you that the people in the class had put the non slip, grippy stuff on the back. It's the stuff you can use under a rug or on a shelf to keep things from slipping. This seemed to help them with stability since it doesn't have the extra piece ,the Clemes and Clemes boards have, that goes between your legs or leans on the table. Also, some of the people had gotten handles from a hardware store to put on the top of the board and that seemed very useful too. I had the "idea"of how to make my board but now I really understand what to do...sanding, gluing , stapling, etc. thank you! Ann

Laura said...

This is a great idea and very clear tutorial -- thank you. Do you think a heavy-duty manual (non-powered) staple gun would do the job, or is the typical cutting board too dense?

Dawning Dreams said...

I would think a heavy duty stapler would work okay. I do not have one myself, so I am unsure about the sturdiness of the actual staple. The supplies I used seemed to be easy enough for the big stapler to work. Knowing me, though, I would also take a hammer to secure the staple better if it didn't make it all the way through. Also, if they stars are not as heavy duty, I would add more of them around the perimeter as well.

Thanks for the question!

Janean said...

Do the teeth point to the top of the board or the bottom of it? Thanks for the great tutorial, I would not have thought of using an adhesive along with the staples.

Dawning Dreams said...

Oh, yes, they are pointed upward.

Janean said...

I Love your blog. I am planning to start one of my own and you inspire me.

EllenF said...

Love this post. After looking for blending boards, your solution seems easy enough and a good project for a day. With Ann's idea of using the rubberized shelf liner ( I use this already for felting) and your easy to follow directions and photos, a blending board is on my list of things to do. Thanks so much for explaining the process so well.

Kate said...

Hi! I love your post! I am about to make my own blending board and I was just wondering, where did you find that image of the girl spinning? I totally love it! I wasn't planning to embellish my board but now I would like to try this method. Could you send me the PNG/JPG file you used? I can't seem to find it on Google Images or anything. D:

Also I am going to try building my own drum carder because I cannot bear to spend $800 on something as simple as a drumcarder. Yes, they have a gearbox, but I am stoked to give it a go. Maybe I will be less so enthused if/when I mess up, hahaha. ;) Pray for me! :D

Unknown said...

what is the link for the cutting board?