Instructables
Quick knitting needles made from 1/8" solid brass rod.
 
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Step 1: Materials and Tools

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I purchased a 3' long 1/8" diameter brass rod from a local hardware store.
The project requires a hacksaw and sandpaper. However, a ruler, clamp, grinding wheel, leather gloves and eye protection will make the work faster and more comfortable.

Step 2: Cut the Rod

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I marked every six inches along the rod. I clamped each section and sawed off each piece with the hacksaw. I then had six 6" sections.

Step 3: Shaping the Ends of the Needles

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I turned on the grinding wheel and shaped both ends of each rod. I held my hand steady and rotated the rod at a nice blunt angle. I used sandpaper to smooth the surface, but all of the shaping could be done with sandpaper. I used a match striking motion to get a slightly rounded tip.

Step 4: Get to Knitting

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Try out the needles. I like this set for making small creatures and tiny tubes. This probably would be a fine set for socks.
Why do you have a preference for brass knitting needles?

My ignorance on the subject of the perceived pleasures of heavier needles needs improving.
I can't speak to the kind you used, but most brass in the U.S. contains lead, some of which will end up on whatever you knit. If you're comfortable with that for your own clothes/projects, then of course, continue. Just don't make stuff for kids using these - unless of course you have verification that the brass is lead-free. Concentrations below 10 ppm will have negative neurological effects on children.

That said, these look very nicely made!
Thank you for mentioning this sir. I was reading up on brass the other day and noticed that there is sometimes a lead content. However, I was unsure if the mix of other metals made it more inert. I wasn't able to find an article on lead poisoning from brass although it was easy to find an article on poisoning from the hot lead used in the foundry process (http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=669894). I would very much like to know what the hazards of the materials I work with are. If you have an article would you please pass it on.

There is no reason this project needs to contain any hazardous materials. Knitting needles can be made from a wide variety of materials. I recently posted an Instructable that shows how the discarded branches from pruned trees (free, local, sustainable, non-toxic) could be used to make knitting needles: http://www.instructables.com/id/Street-Knitting-Needles/.

Thanks,
Jesse
Hey Jesse, here's a summary of a fairly recent study on lead in plumbing brass:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101111141849.htm

I got started on the anti-brass kick a few years ago when I was doing electrolysis of water and NaCl using brass electrodes.  An orange-red precipitate formed during the process that turned out to be a form of lead (II) oxide, formed when the lead leaching from the brass reacted with the (somewhat caustic) solution.

Most brass has some lead in it currently (at least in the U.S.) - from my reading, the lead content is not limited to plumbers brass.  There is some truly lead-free stuff out there, but it's more expensive. 
Thank you so much for posting that article. I will think twice about using my own needles now... perhaps I can track down some lead free brass.
Side note: I like the pruned-tree instructable!
Those look awesome and I bet they are so much cheaper than what you get in the store!
jesse.hensel (author)  Penolopy Bulnick2 years ago
You are right Penolopy these are vastly cheaper than what I have seen in most stores. The brass should cost less than $3 and it can be turned into needles in less than 20 minutes. Additionally, unlike most commercial needles, they fit in my pocket.