Nov 03 2020

Easy Bone Needles

Published by at 5:06 pm under Bone and Antler

Although scoring and splitting blanks for needles from cannon bones works really well I prefer easier bones when I have them. All of these bones are very easy to use and especially the fox bone (or similar ones from hare and other small animals) is good.

From left to right: Bone attached to dew claw on the front legs of roe deer (Capreolus capreolus). Wing bone from Canada goose (Branta canadensis). Thigh bone (I think, can not quite remember) from red fox (Vulpes vulpes).


You begin by sectioning the bone into the usable pieces. I took a bit shorter than I could from the wing bone, since I wanted to save the rest for a possible fishing hook. The porous ends are not really that usable, so choose middle sections.

The blank is then scraped or abraded into near finished dimensions. As you can see on some of these bones it doesn’t take a lot. The goose bone is hollow and a bit brittle, so more care is needed there. The tip also has to run off to one side on this particular needle to get a proper point.

Before reducing the thickness to the finished size, you make the needle eye. It is safer to do that when it is a bit thicker as there will be some pressure exerted when scoring or drilling the hole. I always score the hole, although I have tried both. The reason is that the hole will be much stronger in the sideways direction that way. The hole will be a weak spot on the needle and where it is most likely to break. So I make the hole as small as practically possible for threading it. Reducing the weakness of the eye portion as much as possible is essential for making the needle last longer.Additionally, the eye should be places as far back on the needle as possible. I leave a bit in the back for strength, but since the eye is a weak spot, you want it placed so that as little leverage as possible is put on them when pushing the needle from the back. Most of the time when sewing that should be avoided, but on occasion you can’t get away from it.

When the eye is finished all you have to do is to thin it further until finished dimensions.

I prefer my needles ultra small, so I might thin some of these further if the thickness is a problem. When sewing lightweight furs, leather or buckskin, one can usually poke straight through if the needle is strong. If the hide is thicker, the holes need to be pre-punched with an awl. The breaking strength of bone is obviously less than that of metal, so more care has to be taken when sewing. They are very serviceable though and are not less efficient if care is taken.



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