Full Chisel Blog

February 26, 2009

A little bit of nothing, whittled down to a fine point.

Filed under: Carving,Historical Material,Of Interest,Proper Tools,Techniques,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 5:20 pm

Knowing the properties of the curly maple I have been using for crochet hooks, I decided to make some smaller versions also for knitting needles.

Knitting Needles

The pair on the right are 3/32″ in diameter, the others 1/8″.  They were actually easy to work once I cut out the square blanks.  The wood was straight grained and curly which contributes properties to the wood.

I shaped these with a small bronze spokeshave and finished with a card scraper.  I sanded them with a piece of worn out 80 grit, then finished off with 220.  I then raised the grain by getting them wet with water, then sanded again with 220.  I then used a bone folder to burnish the surface.  I will finish these small needles and hooks with linseed oil and a bit of glycerin to strengthen and keep them flexible.

Birdseye maple is caused by crowded growing conditions and curly maple is from windy growing conditions.  The grain being curly seems to be much more flexible and resilient that straight grain wood of the same diameter.

Stephen

8 Comments »

  1. Hi Stephen,

    Those are wonderful! What’s a “bone folder?” Sounds like something from a horror movie :-)

    Cheers — Larry

    Comment by Larry Marshall — February 27, 2009 @ 6:27 am

  2. They look great but I’m literally *dying* to find out how they knit up with wool
    and feel in my hands.

    FW

    Comment by I need a husband — February 27, 2009 @ 7:11 am

  3. Hi Stephen,

    Nice work, my wife does a lot of knitting, (as well as quilting) all my attempts to make knitting needles of particular sizes have failed, usually the smaller ones break. The next time I try, it will be with riven stock so that I don’t get into any cross grain problems. I suspect that it might be harder to split long straight lengths with curly rather than straight grain. So I guess the ideal is straight riven but curly? :-)

    Regards
    Ray

    Comment by Ray Gardiner — February 27, 2009 @ 9:00 am

  4. Larry,

    A bone folder is a tool used to crease or fold paper. They are usually made of bone, hence the name. There is a picture of one in the next post, I have made a couple of other shapes.

    FW,

    Let me know how I can put those into your hands?

    Ray,

    When I split them out they tend to become quite crooked, I do make a politicians pen from splits of curly maple. For these I selected good straight grain, then sawed the blanks.

    Stephen

    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — February 27, 2009 @ 2:48 pm

  5. Thanks Stephen,
    I think what you’re describing is what I know as a ‘book folder’ (used for binding smaller pamplets and such). Sort of pointy on one end, thin along the edges. I never realized they were called bone folders.

    Cheers — Larry

    Comment by Larry Marshall — February 27, 2009 @ 4:05 pm

  6. Thanks Stephen,
    I think what you’re describing is what I know as a ‘book folder’ (used for binding smaller pamplets and such). Sort of pointy on one end, thin along the edges. I never realized they were called bone folders.

    Cheers — Larry

    Comment by Larry Marshall — February 27, 2009 @ 4:05 pm

  7. I have heard of bone being used to burnish wood, most commonly with reference to gunstocks, the idea is to flatten the grain and compress the wood fibres to produce the finished surface. I wonder if you could use a bone folder to produce the same effect. Once the fibres are all compressed and smooth, you can’t use oil or wax finishes. Might be an interesting exercise to try for finishing needles and crotchet hooks.

    Regards
    Ray

    Comment by Ray Gardiner — February 28, 2009 @ 11:16 am

  8. Ray,

    Most of what you said is true, however even the hardest wood that has been burnished ‘boned’ like ebony, will still accept linseed oil. Linseed oil is a very special double molecule long bond that is capable of penetrating everything, including plastic and metal. Of course wax is a huge sticky molecule and can’t penetrate anything, that is why it is a good surface treatment (not a finish).

    I also raise the grain of the wood between scraping coats to make it behave better to finishes.

    Stephen

    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — February 28, 2009 @ 5:13 pm

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