I have wanted to build a wool picker ever since I saw photos of them on the internet and learned what they did. A wool picker is a machine that pulls wool apart to make it more open. This helps clean the wool, and makes it easier to card, (or even spin). It opens the wool with the aid of sharp, smooth nails that hold and pull the wool. It is a very dangerous piece of equipment, with some having over 400 nails.
I have not been able to build one because I could not find nails that were smooth. Normal nails would snag and tear the wool. Well, a couple of weeks ago I found nails for a nail gun and they seemed perfect. They may not be as sharp as the nails used in a wool picker, but I think that is okay.
Once I had the nails I started planning what type of picker to make. There are two basic types, one that swings and a box or bench picker. The box type seem easier and safer to build so I decided on a wide box picker. My dad has some wooden boxes so I used one as my base. These are not instructions on how to build a wool picker, only my attempts at building one.
The nails are set into the wood at an angle of about 45 degrees, in groups that change direction. When I learned how to build the solar ovens I became comfortable using an electric screwdriver/drill, and I used one to drill the holes for the nails. I drilled a hole in a spare piece of wood and used that to guide the drill so I had the same angle for each hole.
I drilled each group of nails, (four rows for the bottom sets and three rows for the top sets) on separate pieces of wood so I could adjust the position. I screwed three sets into the bottom of the box and three sets into a sliding lid. The lid slides back and forth across the box pulling the wool different directions with the nails.
Unfortunately I realised that the box needed to be longer to allow the lid full movement across the nails. I took both ends off the box to see how much extra movement I needed.
When I did this I could also see that my nails were too far apart.
I put some extra wood between the lid and the nails to move them closer together.
I put the ends back on to keep the box strong, with one end shorter so the lid has more movement.
Then to give it a test. And it works! It is probably not as good as professional wool pickers, and it only has 200 nails, but I think it will help prepare my wool before I card.
I am so pleased that I could make this myself!