I’ve been wanting to teach myself how to knit for a while now, and was looking at all the different supplies when I thought to myself: “I bet I could make these knitting needles pretty easily!”
So I went on the hunt for materials to make them out of. At first I thought about making plastic ones, but when the hubs and I were out yesterday I found wooden dowel rods and knew that they would be the perfect thing. I got a pack of six of them for a dollar at the dollar store in our town centre. These are 9mm across which will turn into size 13 knitting needles. At the end of the post I’ll put up a size chart that shows the diameter of each size needle.
The first thing that I did was to mark off where I wanted the tapered end to start. I chose to go about an inch and a half up from the end. I marked a circle all around each dowel so as I was carving I could tell where to begin.
Then it’s time to start carving away. If you’ve never done any kind of whittling or wood carving this is a good project to start with, as it’s extremely simple. The directions I’m giving are for right handers but if you’re left handed all you need to do is the opposite of what I’m explaining.
You’re going to hold the dowel in your left hand with your fingers a couple inches back from the line where you’re going to begin carving. You want an extremely sharp knife, and it’s always easier to carve into a soft wood rather than a hard wood. Pretty much all the craft dowels you’ll ever get are going to be made from soft woods. Hold the knife in your right hand, with the blade facing away from you. You want your fingers wrapped around the front of the knife a good inch or so from the blade, with your thumb higher up towards the back of the blade. Here’s a picture of how I hold my blade for reference. I don’t have a good whittling knife yet so I’ve been using my trusty box knife.
Another way that you can hold your knife is to lower your right thumb a bit and while the dowel is in your left hand, use your left thumb to push the blade. I feel like I have a little more control when I do it this way. It really works best when you’re carving in short strokes.
Keep turning the dowel and carving away evenly until you get it to a point. It’s ok if it’s a little choppy looking or has some straight spots in it, you’ll just need to make shallower and shallower cuts the closer you get to the final shape. Here’s what mine looked like about half way through.
Keep at it until you get it to a point. You don’t want a super sharp point, though. Nothing that would snag the yarn. Then you’re going to start sanding it. I picked up some 320 grit sandpaper from Canadian Tire for about $3. You could even go up to 1000 grit to get it super smooth, but I got a really smooth finish with the 320.
Cut a piece about the size of your palm and start to smooth out the point. You can do it all by hand if you’d like, it’ll just take a bit. If you have an electric sander you can use that, turning the dowel as you go to avoid flat spots. What I ended up doing was sticking the dowel in my drill and using it as a make shift lathe. Just stick in the dowel and tighten the chuck, then hold your sandpaper to the end and move it back and forth and up and down as the dowel turns. The shorter the dowel the better this will work. If your dowel is too long the end will be really wobbly. My dowels were twelve inches and I had a lot of movement at the end. I just pressed the sandpaper to the dowel as it was spinning which got rid of any shaking.
Here’s the before and after photo of the two dowels. Now that you know how to go about it, do the exact same thing to the other dowel to make your pair. After I had both of them done I went over them with a light coat of Krylon clear gloss then re-sanded it smooth.
And there they are! I used these to teach myself how to knit with the help of this amazing video from knittinghelp.com. I hope you enjoyed this how to and if you have any questions just ask!
Till next post!
Here is the sizes chart I mentioned earlier. The website has all kinds of yarns and patterns for sale. Just click the picture to check it out.