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Wooden Needles - Carving whittling


Never Alone In The Bush
Staff member
Jun 16, 2011
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Melbourne, Victoria
I carved a few wooden needles. A simple enough task, surely a needle is just a sharp stick ?

Well ... yes and no.

The art is in the eye of the beholder, or literally the eye of the needle.
Carving needle eyes is not a simple task. If you drill it, that's simple, but carving is tricky.

These needles are approx pencil thick, the sort of thing useful to help weaving, netting or lacing, rather than sewing a fine set of clothes.

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An interesting pointers I read about wooden needles was to carve towards the end of the stick, ie the point should be towards the end of the stick because (at least in theory) sticks thin as they approach the end, therefore the growth rings are tighter together and the wood is harder. I'm not sure how true that is, but its "traditional" knowledge believed by people in the past.
Perhaps someone here con confirm or deny that. Frankly I don't think it would make much difference, but following tradition was important to me, so that's what I did.

As well as carving "eye" needled I carved this "number 7" needle.
Rather than cut an eye, this needle has an acute notch cur several cm up from the base, and a channel cut into the shaft between the notch and the base of the needle.

The idea here was to make a tough needle. A normal eye is a weak point, a notch is strong.

The notch is cut deep enough so that a knotted string will rest in it, and the string can lay in the channel behind.
This allows the needle to draw the knot, and string through a very tough material. The knot and string should not protrude above the needle.
The needle itself has a 3 faced point to allow better penetration:

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This needle was used by farmers in the field to sew up sacks of produce. The needle was strong enough and the eyes would not break out.
It also allows a single strand of string to be pulled through, rather than a double thickness (as you would be doing with an eye).

The needles were cheap (free to carve in your own time) and didn't matter if they were lost (unlike a steel needle which cost money and couldn't be easily replaced).

There is a whole art to sewing closed sacks too, but you can look that up yourselves ...

At the end of the day, I did a quick strop to resharpen everything before packing up.
Ready for next time
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