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How to make a Bone Needle

How to make a Bone Needle

By: Léot mac Grigair


Required materials: Bone

Required tools: saw (a hacksaw works very well), bastard file, a small drill bit, and sandpaper in the following grits: 100 dry, 200 dry and 300 wet/dry.


The step-by-step process:

Start with a clean, dry piece of bone and cut it to the length of the needle that you want to make using a hacksaw, band saw, etc. (Dog bones purchased in pet stores make excellent carving material as they are pre-bleached and sterile.) Just like wood, bone has a grain, so make sure that the length of the needle runs with the length of the bone. Making a needle from the width of the bone will result in an easily broken needle.


Use the saw and cut a piece of the bone approximately 1/8” thick to make a thin needle or approximately 1/4" to 1/2" think to make a nalbinding style needle. (These widths are guidelines. You can make thinner needles, just be aware that the thinner they are, the more fragile they become.)


Using the thumb and forefinger of your “off-hand” hold the needle blank such that it lays down the length of your forefinger. Use the bastard file to round-off and shape the needle by pushing the file down the length of the needle. Turn the needle as necessary to achieve the shape of your desired needle.

*Tip* Only file with a pushing motion. Pulling the file backwards over the needle runs a higher risk of breaking the needle. Use your file to sharpen a point on one end. Make sure to center the point as much as possible for ease of use.


Once the needle has been rounded and pointed, turn the needle around in your hand and use the file to create a flat section at the back of the needle. Try to take in a small amount from each side so your thread will pass through your material with less effort. Drill a hole in the flat portion of the needle for the thread. Depending on the thread that you will be using, you may wish to cut an elongated hole rather than a round one, for ease of use. If you do use an oval, be sure that the long dimension runs the same direction as the length of the needle, therefore creating as small of a weak spot as possible. (If your needle is going to break, it typically breaks where you drilled the hole for the thread.)


Now it is time to polish the needle. Begin with the 100 grit sandpaper and sand the length of the needle until it is of a uniform smoothness. There should not be any gouges left from the filing process after this stage.


Now, use the 200 grit sandpaper and sand not only the length of the needle, but around the needle as well. This will help the overall smoothness of the needle. Once again, sand the needle until it is of uniform smoothness. At this stage the needle should feel smooth to the touch.


Finally, use the 300 grit sandpaper and sand the needle in the same fashion as with the 200 grit. For a smoother finish, dip the sandpaper in water before using it on the needle. This will help prevent the sandpaper from “loading up” and give you a much smoother finish.


Dry off the needle and enjoy.


If you have any questions or would like to learn more, I can be reached via email at: