Types of Felting Needle and Handles
The world of felting needles can be a confusing place! There are many types and names, and sometimes different names for the same things!
What does a felting needle look like?
All felting needles are composed of a bent end which you hold, which tapers down to the sharp, thin working end. There are notches near the end which, when pushing the needle into fibres, catch or snag the fibres and push them with the needle. Some needles have different lengths (the standard length is 3 inches which fits most needle handles).
There are various differences between types of needles:
- #36 - this is a coarse needle, suitable for quick shaping, and coarse & medium fibres.
- #38 - this is a medium needle, suitable for shaping, and medium fibres.
- #40 - this is a fine needle, suitable for tiny details and very fine fibres
- #42 - this is very fine Needle, suitable for giving the felted object a very smooth finished look
- Our needles are available as single sizes but also as sets of coarse, medium and fine, so you have the full range.
Shape of shaft:
- Triangle - this is the most usual shape, and ideal for beginners who may break more needles while learning, as they are a less expensve needle. Our standard needles have this shape.
- Twisted / Spiral (Triangle) - these needles spread the barbs over a wider area as the shaft is slightly twisted, engaging more fibres meaning it works quicker but also leaves a less pronounced hole.
- Star or Cross-Star (latter Trademark by Groz Beckert) these needles tend to have 4 working edges and also engage more fibres, again as more notches fit into the surface and they also leave less of a visible hole.
- Twisted Star - combines the best of the twisted and the star needles!
- Reverse Needles - the notches face the opposite way so instead of pushing the fibres in they will pull the fibres out. This works best if you want to give your felting a fluffy / hairy / wiry finished look or bring a colour from inside the shape out to the surface. Examples are fluffy chicks, wire haired dogs.
All of the above needles are colour coded at the bent top, as are their secure screw top tube containers. These colour codes are unique to The Makerss as follows:
If you are a beginner and just want a great set of needles to start you off with some spares, go for our Standard Mixed Needles. If you have been felting a while, and want to try something new, try one of our other shaped needles! You will love them!
The needles in our kits are not marked and fall slightly outside the above in that the length determines whether they are coarse, medium or fine. The shorter the needle the finer, the longer the coarser. We do not sell these needles separately but they are solely used in the kits.
⚠️ Important Safety Guidelines (our recommendation) ⚠️
❗️Take great care when using a sharp felting needle.
❗️Don’t share needles especially when contaminated
❗️Dispose of used and broken needles in a safe manner (sharps bin)
❗️Make sure you dispose of all broken parts of the needle. If you cannot find all of it and it may be inside your Feltie you may consider disposing of this too. Hard call, we know! But broken ends will work their way our again if handled and they may cause injury.
❗️Keep needles in a safe place when not in use. For example insert into your felting mat when putting your needle down for a moment.
❗️Always store your needles in a safe container and keep away from children
❗️Unless you have the professional equipment to sterilise needles do not attempt to clean them so they can be shared/re-used
Needle Tools / Holders / Handles
- Single: a wooden handle which makes it more comfortable to hold a single needle, suitable also for people who need something bigger to grip.
- 3x needle tool: a pen style tool which holds 3x needles very close together. Ideal for 2d (flat) felting and can be used for 3d needle felting but due to the set up of the handle the needles cannot travel very far into the piece, and sometimes it is easier to work with just two needles in it so it is not so powerful as it can be tricky to go into some fibres such as our finer fibred Hare Brown.
- 4x needle tool: has a wooden handle, comfortable grip, the needles work over a wide area. Ideal for 3d shaping work on bigger projects, and can also be used for 2d work.
- 7x needle tool: a plastic handle with retracting finger guard. Amazing speedy worker for 2d (flat) projects, especially when paired with a brush mat which creates a really firm surface. Has a tendency to squash things flat so less suited to 3d work.
- 8x needle tool: Has a wooden handle, The needles are close together over a wide area. Some needles can be taken out to create a less needled tool which shapes more slowly and delicately.
- Single needle holder and finger protector: has a wooden handle and holds a single needle (included). Comes with two leather finger protector, one for the thumb, one for the index finger to be worn on the hand that holds the object to be felted.