|Project by scottb||posted 01-04-2009 02:51 AM||1621 views||0 times favorited||5 comments|
My niece is into knitting. Really into knitting. In addition to having several projects going at all times, socks, hats, scarves and what have you – plus emergency needles and yarn in the car – she’s co-producing a podcast which is getting good reviews.
(apologies to Matt and Marc, I know how they feel over at WTOL about the woodworking vs knitting podcasts)
Anyhow, a while back (a long while admittedly) she asked if I could make her a pair of needles. This Christmas she was surprised, and thrilled with this purple pair.
I’d been looking around the shop and yard for something to use, from saplings to offcuts to the firewood pile. Nervous of checks and splits in the firewood, my thoughts turned to finding something with nice straight grain for strength in such a slender turning. Christmas this year was going to be a very homemade affair (read – free, or darn near), but when I spied a 1/2” thick purpleheart board at Woodcraft, I knew I found what I needed. Straight and stable grain aside, she really likes purple.
I tried making the first one in excess of 12 inches on the shopsmith, and it split in two nearly straight away, just one catch with the skew and it was well beyond repair. I’ve made spurtles before, but those slender turnings were still far beefier than what I was attempting with these…, so I got creative with a combination of chucks and centers on my Jet Mini lathe, before I managed to pull off a matching pair.
Getting them cut perfectly parallel was also a challenge. but with calipers and sanding blocks they match perfectly. Nice and straight. These clock in somewhere around 8 or 9 mm in diameter (I can’t remember the size), and are about as long as I could make on my Jet Mini lathe. (I based the size of needles my mother-in-law had – length and diameter, as well as the angle of the pointed end. I tried turning, using a pencil sharpener, and in the end, the disk sander was easier, and more accurate by far, for getting the business end pointed and ready for use.
These are sanded super smooth to 2000 grit so as not to snag any yarn, and finished with BLO. I wanted a finish that could easily be reapplied as needed.