First Tests of Ann’s and Jan’s New Felting Machines Part 2

First Tests of Ann’s and Jan’s New Felting Machines Part 2

Part 1 can be found here:

Electric felting tool from Ukraine (Orange Fly felting machine)

 1) Ann found it on Etsy.  

We knew Glenn had found it on Etsy and had a long chat with the inventor.  He said that there had been illegal copies of his design, but they had not worked well having descriptions of falling apart and breaking quickly. His original design has been well-tested and had good reviews online.  Ann and I wanted to try it out and compare it to the Chinese design.

2) The orange Fly from Ukraine.  

Orange Fly from Ukraine came with Instructions.3) came with Instructions.

Like the Chinese machine, the price is fluctuating due to the changing value of the Canadian Dollar.

There are a couple of safety instructions with this machine which should be noted.

  • Do not run without a needle in the machine
  • Oil the bushing and inspect to make sure the needle is not heating (you need to add another drop of oil) also running at high speed will wear out the bushing and it will require replacement when the needle feels loose when sitting in it.
  • I would add keeping hair away from moving parts of the machine (I was one of the first 3 girls in shop class in my high school, and I remember long hair and power tools don’t mix well. It was one of the reasons the shop teacher would not let the girls use power tools in shop class.)

Material that makes up the machine

The first thing you will notice is that The Ukrainian machine is made of a plastic for the majority of its body, unlike the Chinese one whose body is made of metal.  I am not sure about the type or projected longevity of this plastic but as with most plastics it should last longer if a few precautions are taken:

  • Kept out of direct sunlight (can degrade some plastics)
  • Keep it at room temperature, and do not let it freeze or leave it in places of high heat (the dashboard of a car or in a sunny window.) being an electronic device it likely will not appreciate being left or used in high humidity. If in doubt it would be best to contact the manufacturer.

2 pictures of Ann holding the Ukrainian felting gun like machine, and 2 pictures of Ann holding the cylindrical mettle Chinese machine 4) Hand grips for both machines

Ergonomics/ comfortable grip:

The handle shapes and thus how you grip them are also different. You may find one more comfortable than the other. I found the grip on the Orange one comfortable and it was easy to see where I was pointing the needle.

Switch and switch placement: the switch or small on-off button are both located in the area where the hand will be near. (i did not test the orange fly with the left hand but may add that to the final tests). For the Ukrainian machine, I found the switch to be well located for the Right hand and easy to turn on and off.  The tiny black button on the Chinese machine was very sensitive and I inadvertently kept turning it back on as I tried to turn it off. This may just be me being too aggressive with my button-pushing. Ann seemed to be able to turn it off and on with less fumbling. You can see the Ukrainian switch in picture 2 of this post and in picture 7 from the last post, you can see the little black button from the Chinese machine. (

Noise: the Orange Fly is slightly quieter than the Silver Chinese machine.

Needle penetration /Vibration/kickback;  very little resistance to any of the surfaces or work pads with this one needle machine. (the exception was a fulled bulky knit sweater which gave a bit of kickback but this was fixed by increasing the speed.)  This could be partly due to the decrease in resistance when working with one needle when compared to more needles working in close proximity. We were also not sure of the exact gauge the silver machine was using. Ann has some of the Crown 40-111 needles I sent over to her. These may improve the operation of the Chinese Silver machine and make the test more even. We will report back after her husband has a chance to de-crank the needles so they will work in the machine.

The second thing to mention about vibration is to further Ann’s finding or more correctly losing of a small screw from the Chinese machine. I found that one of mine (not one holding a needle) had loosened off when I was running a test comparing it with the Orange one. I spotted the black screw on the silver machine before it had a chance to fall out.

5) working on wool felt pad and wool felting base  /Needle penetration from the back5) working on wool felt pad and wool felting base  /Needle penetration from the back

 6) pre-felt on medium felt pad 6) pre-felt on medium felt pad

 7) pre-felt on bristle brush 7) pre-felt on a bristle brush

Changing needles

While using the tiny allen key with the Chinese machine was fiddly but reasonably easy, getting the needle into the Orange machine was a bit more complicated. The instructions definitely had English words but seeing a video of putting the needle in fixed the confusion. Not having to have the pre-step of cutting off the crank (which is required for the silver machine)  is an added incentive to look favourably on this one.

Overall, I liked this machine even more than I expected and Ann liked it too.  Next Ann and I will expand our investigation just a bit more and look at 3 thicknesses of wet felt bases. We will look at both the Ukrainian and Chinese machines. Ann may have a third machine, this one is coming from Georgia, and has multiple needles. if it arrives soon enough we will add it to the wet felt base info and let you know what it is like to work with too. I will try to give a synopsis of the machines.

We will also see if our suspicion that the crown needles with their shallow working depth will improve the interaction between the felting surface/wool, brush or foam pad and the Chines machine.

Ukraine felting machine:


PS: I have spent the last 2 days at the Ottawa Valley Farm Show, demoing felting with Mr. and Mrs. Mer as well as doing a bit of spinning on one of my travel wheels. I do want to show you some of the fun we got up to but wanted to tell you about the second felting machine before getting distracted again. I am hoping the spelling is ok and I haven’t forgotten anything! I am about to face-plant the keyboard so I think it’s time for bed!

16 thoughts on “First Tests of Ann’s and Jan’s New Felting Machines Part 2

  1. This testing has been so helpful – I’ve thought about buying one of these after seeing Stephanie Lester’s amazing work. There are several possibilities on Etsy, some seem to be copies of the Orange Fly. I shall watch and await your deliberations. Thanks so much for this test

    1. thanks Nancy!
      Ann and i read through the various plastic etsy listings, checking comments and looking at photos. most had some design flaws. (screws that had to be undun and retighened to change needles that stipped, moters that overheated, parts that fell off or flew appart were a few of the comments for various macheens that i remember.) my hubby also did a lot of reading before his xmass shopping and then had long email chats with the maker of the orange fly. he like this disign best and i am well pleased with it so far.

      i hope that the designer /manufaturer has the opertunity to eventualy make cast or tooled mettle parts for the orange fly. (i know plastices are invironmentaly unfrendly and have truble biodegrading so may have good longevity, but some of them crumble into a mess when i reach for a new plastic bag which is not helpfull!)

      Ann has a plastic bodyed multy needle one on order we will check it out too and report back.

  2. I’d actually love an Orange Fly, but the fact it only holds one needle and is made of plastic puts me off for now… I shall have to wait.

    Very useful comparison, Jan! Thanks for doing this for us.

    One last thing: you’d think your teacher would know of the existence of hair elastics, so girls wouldn’t get their hair tangled in power tools? But nooo, just keep them away. I have to wonder what this teacher would make of my other half, a burly male with hair down to his waist: also banned, like the girls?
    (Feminist rant over for now :D)

    1. thanks Leonor!
      i hope the orange fly design will be offered in mettale some day, but Ukrain is a bit bissy at the moment.
      even with only one needle it was effective and had better depth penitration than the multi needle (we are suspecting needle placement is too close and or gauges we had in are too cores or barbe placement is to far up the needle for full engagement. the c40-111 needls will give grater illumination to our hypothisis)
      there is a bit more comparison to come and Ann has thrown in another contender when it arives.

      i have blotted out the name of the horrible shop teacher. he made the 3 girls use hand tools and let the boys use power tools. then he put all our “book ends” in front of the class and told us how poorly the girls had done. (we used coppeing saws insted of the band saw, and sanding blocks insted of an electric sander. of cousre ours looked rushed, rustic and less finished we were barly finished cutting out as the guys were almost done there sanding! it did not help me with my therory that some teachers are realy stupid. dont get me started about my grade one teacher who had no idea there were blood vesels in the plate of a stegasorus which might be a cooling systum thus might not be cold blooded. i was an odd kid who in kindergarden was watching the “Univeristy of the air” paliantoligy couse on TV vary urly saterday mornings. but i knew adults didnt get up at 6am to watch tv so i gess it wasnt her falt she was so illinformed about dinosors. (she thot is was very dim becouse i had such tubble with letters and numbers.) the shop teacher on the other hand should know better and probubly just didnt like girls, i am not shure he liked the boys much ether.
      Luckily there are some vary good teachers out there to make up for the glaringly bad ones. i keep trying to emulate the good ones.

  3. Very useful post Jan.
    When people make copies of things, and don’t even make a good job of it, it’s horrible for the inventor who gets robbed of his sales and it’s horrible for the buyer who is cheated of a decent item.

    1. Lyn, I have one for you: someone I know ordered a copied version of a tattoo machine from China. It was identical to the “real deal” but at a fraction of the cost. You know why? When it arrived, it looked perfect, except it didn’t have anything on the inside! No motor, nothing! It was a dud. The factory didn’t even take the time to buy a real machine to copy properly, haha!

      (I’m not advocating anyone copying anything, on the contrary. Just in case someone reads this and misinterprets me…)

    2. thanks you both, yes i think the design work and testing that went into the orange fly makes it a good option. the revews on the nock offs are very illuminateing and hopefully will worn away costomers from the under resurched and under tested copys of his design. from the costomer discriptions the Orange fly for the one needle cattagory is definatly the faroite. we will be doing a bit more testing and hopefuly have more good news on its abuilitys.

  4. Interesting! I wonder if there is a product that can be used to help keep the screws from untightening spontaneously?

    1. There is a liquid called Loctite, but it is sometimes permanent (usually only when you don’t want it to be) so perhaps not such a good idea.

    2. i think the vibration and kick back on the china machine is comeing more from the type of needle (remember how the end feel of a course needle will get more resistent as the fibers increse entaglement and you need to switch to a finer gauge to contiue felting) so if we switch to a set of fine crown needles we should get better results. which should reduse the vibration and kick back, we will let you know when we get the needles switched out and run more test.

  5. Thanks for another great post Jan. These are a must read for all needle felters. Following with interest.

  6. It’s been interesting to follow your testing. It’s not a product I would want for myself but I’m sure there will be some out there who will benefit from an assisted needle and from the detailed research you are doing in to this.

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