Using blunt needles

Some people may not have met the idea of blunt sewing needles, except perhaps for a bodkin [127050]. The concept of a blunt needle is commonplace amongst the knitting and crochet fraternites. Here are some thoughts by way of enlightenment ~ intended for tyro bookbinders.

Sharp and blunt needle points
Blunt and sharp steel needle points compared

A plastic needle with wool
Sewing with wool and a plastic needle

Plastic needle ~ Blunt needle ~ Sharper needle
A selection of awls and a needle for comparison ~
Sharp awl ~ Plastic needle ~ Blunt awl

A short digression...

Bookbinders treat a sharp awl as an important tool ~ in use nearly all the time [125564]. They use awls mainly ~ and frequently ~ to pierce holes in papers, some of which are surprisingly tough, especially in bulk. I recently discovered a use for a blunt awl ~ something worthy of a separate note [127051].

...back to using needles

The purpose of the point on a needle is to make it easier to pierce the fabric being sewn. The bookcrafter ~ wisely ~ makes the holes beforehand with a tool that is more comfortable than a needle. Once the holes have been made there is no longer a need for sharp ~ and finger-spikey ~ points. Blunt needles are plentiful and economic ~ no excuses for not using them (other than 'Oh - I did not know!').

If that is not a good enough reason ~ and here speaks someone who has pierced a thumb with the blunt end of a needle whilst pushing through something too tough ~ there is an even better reason that evangelizes the blunt needle.

Cordwainers use awls, and will have a selection of a dozen with different shapes and bends [125494] . They are necessary to arrange for holes in tough leathers, especially as they are being shaped. The needles illustrated here are named saddlers' harness needles because horse tack is also made mainly of leather: the saddle being the most important, and most difficult, item to make. The leather has to be pierced with a very sharp ~ confortably handled ~ awl beforehand. After piercing a blunt needle will follow the hole better than a sharp one ~ which will have a tendency if not exactly alinged to make its own hole and wander into the leather.

This decorative ropework is made of polyester cord, in which the filaments are very fine. If an awl, or sharp needle, was used for this it would very likely pierce the cordage and so weaken it and maybe spoil the effect. The blunt needle was made to gently feel its way through the knot.

A blunt needle helping with ropework


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