So, I scanned my needle inventory (glad I took the obnoxiously long amount of time required to catalog them on my Ravelry page) and decided I needed sizes 17, 35, and 50 in varying lengths. However, since I was going to all the trouble of being crafty, I may as well make some wooden double points in smaller sizes, too.
Let me just say, the tutorial I used, by Rosemary Thomas, is great. That makes mine superfluous, but since I am using slightly different materials and like to fill space, I thought I'd share anyway.
What you need:
dowels in the correct diameter
a saw (I used a miter saw, but any rusty old hand saw will probably work fine.)
a sharp knife to shape the needles (or pencil sharpener or radial sander)
Sand paper in a few different grits
beeswax or paste wax
Additional supplies for circulars:
round weed eater line for any size needle tip (works best but usually comes in garish colors) or large flexible plastic tubing for larger needle sizes (I couldn't find a type that was flexible enough for me)
strong glue (I used Gorilla Glue)
a drill bit the size of your tubing or weed eater line
First you need to decide what your dowel size should be to get the proper needle size. I went with:
1" for size US 50
3/4" for size US 35
1/2" for size US 17
3/8" for size US 13
5/15" for size US 11
1/4" for size US 10
I knew that I wanted the larger needle sizes to be circulars and the rest for double points. Then, I had to decide what the actual length of each double point and circular needle tip should be. I chose 8" for doublepoints and 4 3/4" for circulars tips.
I measured and marked my dowels, then cut each dowel into the correct length.
(See my manly arms? My husband did the cutting, but anyone can use a miter saw.)
Now comes the fun part. Since I whittled mine by hand I started shaping the cord side of my circular tips first, being careful not to whittle it down so far that it weakened the wood around the hole. When it was almost the right size, I moved to the needle end to work. I then alternated between the two ends trying to get a little symmetry while making the needle end sharper. The same applies for double points, only you don't have to worry about making the hole in one end collapse.
I really just had to play with it to get a feel for using a knife. I was literally on the porch whittling like an old timer. All I needed was some chewing tobacco and to say things like "Time was..." and "Back in my day..."
Now if you own a heavy duty pencil sharpener (for little sizes), a radial sander, or even a blade grinder, honing down your ends would be easier. We are missing a part to our radial sander and I wanted to feel earthy with a knife anyway, so I carved my first few needles. You can see they are not perfectly shaped due to the serrated blade I was using, but I like them.
Now it was time to use my sandpaper, from the most coarse to the finest on the needles.
I followed with a couple of coats of paste wax (beeswax would work just as well) for some shine.
At this point the double points were finished. If you don't want circulars, stop reading here and go use those double points to make a hat.
If you do want circulars, however, you need to make another decision: what lengths should the cords be? This was an easy step for me. I always use 24" circulars. But having a 16" and 40" would be nice too. I'm not sure what I would make with magic loop on size 50 needles, but I have tons of dowels now to find out.
When cutting my needle cords, I kept the length of my needle and the 3/4" amount of cord that would be fitted inside each needle tip in mind.
In other words:
24"(total length) - 9 1/2" (combined needle tip length) + 1 1/4" (for the bits of cord that will be glued inside the tips) = amount of cord needed for my 24" circular.
Or you can do like me and just stretch the needle tips and cord out next to a tape measure and guess. Snip them with scissors. If you are using plastic tubing be sure it is the very flexible kind. I didn't really like this tubing on mine.
Next apply a bit of glue and shove it into the needle tip. Allow it to dry. You can always sand any bits of glue that are visible, but I found I could pick them off with my fingernails just as well.
You are now the proud owner of a one-of-a-kind, earthy, survivalist chic, handmade circular needle set. Now bring out the bulky yarn and knit that old Twinkle pattern you always wanted.
So in two evenings, for the price of one and a half sets of wooden circulars, I have two sets of circular needles and one set of double points completely finished and ready to use, along with supplies for many more. I also have a big callous from whittling. I could easily cut one or two sets an evening when we usually sit outside and talk, but my son did say he'd bring the rest to shop class and hone them down as a Mother's Day gift (Yay for wood shop!)