making a needle

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making a needle

Post by archerofthelevy »

I was recently asked about making a needle, see below, but as I don't know anything about this I thought I would throw it open to all to see if we can help the lady concerned:

"I’m trying to make myself a bone or horn needle for nalbinding and have bought bone but I’ve not been able to cut it properly, I have also bought some horn but not risked cutting that yet without some advice.

Anyway I was hoping for a bit of advice on how to work these materials and didn’t know where to turn."


Hoping someone can help
The Levy
I run The Levy, an archery and living history based group in and around Hereford and the Welsh borders. C15th... And for my sins I'm now editor of The Re-Enactor.

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Post by Kate Tiler »

Hi Jason - I've moved this to General History as the Forums Help & advice is for help with the forum itself, rather than LH topics.
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Post by John Waller »

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Post by Flesh&Blood »

I made a couple of needles from Pike bones, the long rib bones are quite robust, very sharp and naturaly curved, all I did was sand a flat on the thick end and then drill it through, and finished the hole with sandpaper again to remove sharp edges.

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Post by The Iron Dwarf »

first catch your pike.....
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Post by Flesh&Blood »

the original poster lives (from the description) in Hereford, which is on the River Wye, possibly one of the best natural Pike fisheries in England, just sidle up to an angler and ask if they've seen one (they most probably have had most of their catch eaten before they land it :lol: ).

Two for one really, get a pike of about 10 lbs, eat it (they do eat very well at this size, any bigger and they get a bit wooley, just cutlet them up like Salmon after soaking in strong salt water for 24 hrs) then use the bones as needles. Ultimate full use of the beastie, can't be bad!

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Post by Marcus Woodhouse »

'Cos getting the hook out that gob full of gnarlies can be downright evil. Better and kinder to accidentally drop the poor wee beastie on its head (six or seven times).

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Post by Nigel »

or do what me uncle charlie does keep it alive pop it in the bath let it swim around in nice clean water for a couple of days

then kill and eat

apaprently it cleans it up a bit

oh and dont forget to post a warning on the door as it can cause a bit of domestic disharmony
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Post by James The Archer »

Nigel wrote: oh and dont forget to post a warning on the door as it can cause a bit of domestic disharmony
Or don't post a notice, it'll b a good way of getting rid of un wanted gests! :twisted:
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Post by sally »

We cut bone using a jewellers saw a lot of the time, a hacksaw can be ok but obviously isnt as good for fine things. You can also 'cut' bone by graving a line over and over again until you score right through it. Remind her to wear a dust mask too!

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Post by Type16 »

I have made several bone needles - all with modern tools - from large to very small.

I nicked the dog's hollow cow bone & gave it a good boil. Then sawed it with a tennon saw to make a sliver. further sawing reducing it to size.

Final shaping was done with a Dremel & disks. The holes I tend to want need to be very small - too small for any electrical drill. I use a simple pin-vice type of drill with micro twist drills - all available from model making shops.

Very serious aspect is to use a dust mask & good ventilation - I know from bad experience.

Have a go also with horn - buffalo or cow. It delaminates easily on boiling to get slivers & cuts with tin snips. Finishing & drillind as per previous. And it stinks like hell while you are making it !!!! But works well & has a resilience you do not get with bone.
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Post by Scottish Lady »

I remember when I was about 3 being shown 2 pike that my brother and his mate had caught, and being warned not to put my hands anywhere near their mouths because they still might bite even when they were officially dead! Don't know if that was a story just to keep me out the way, but those teeth are sharp, and the thought that anyone might get into a bath with one swimming in it brings tears to the eye. I must talk to my friendly neighbourhood fishmonger, and see if I can get some bones to try out for needles though.
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Post by Xylaria »

I do quite a bit nalbinding and make my own needles.

Quite simply I use cooked turkey leg (tescos £1.29). The meat is taken off either raw and fed to the cat, then boiled for stock, or we roast it and eat the meat. The bone is then chopped into blanks with a small hand axe. The ends are removed first, and then the bone is cracked down the middle. I whittle a rough nalbinding needle shape, then drill the whole in slowly with a wood bit on hand drill. Depending on the quality of the bone between 5-40 % of the bone will split at this stage. I get healthier stronger turkey bone from the local butchers than tescos. Outdoor reared or game bone is better still, as healther birds has denser bone. The finish is then done with either a dremel or a flint shard.

Bone from large birds shapes around the thumb nail in a natural fashion. Swan is a bit difficult to legally source, and goose is a bit on the small side, so that why I use turkey. Naulakinnas needles from finland are a little longer and narrower than western thumb catch style needles, these are usually made with pig fibula's. I am experimenting with coptic style needles where the point is at right angles to the eye (not flat), as i discovered than when doing coppergate stitch is worked better if the thumb catch method wasn't used, the finished result looked far more authentic worked flat.

Heres some piccys
Coppergate sock repilcas

A hat and some nalbinding needles

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