FELTING NEEDLE GUIDELINES
A. Needle gauge. There are different sized needles for different projects. The 32 gauge is for needling hair onto vinyl dolls and for needling coarse fiber such as Karakul. (I call this the coarse needle.) The 36 gauge needles are used for needling medium fleece such as Romney or Cotswold. (I call this a medium needle.) There are also 40 and even finer gauge needles. The higher the number with wire (as with thread), the finer the diameter. So 40 is smaller than 36. I use the 40 for needling very fine fibers and for needling fine pre-felts onto silk cloth backgrounds. (I call this needle the extra-fine needle.) I use the 38 for merino fibers and call it a fine needle. I like this needle for needling merino pre-felts onto a cotton cloth ground. The coarser needles are good for preliminary work, doing the deep penetration necessary to ÂroughÂ in a sculpture for instance. The finer needles are better for detail work done when the felt is already partially hardened by the coarser blades. You do not need to penetrate deeply into the felt surface to add details and the finer gauge leaves less of a hole.
B. Blade style. While there are several blade styles, there are two blade styles that most needle felters use. The most common is the triangular blade. This blade is shaped like a leather needle, with three sharp edges. The notches are along these sharp edges. The other type of blade is the star blade. This one has four edges and is shaped somewhat like a star. There are more notches since there are more than 3 edges. This needle is good for helping to attach fine fiber to cloth. It is also good for detail work.
C. Notch placement and depth. On some needles available to us, the notches are placed about 1/8 inch away (3.2 mm) from the point and on others, the notches are placed about 3/8 inch away from the point. If the notches are closer to the point, you wonÂt have to push down with as much effort to start getting the fibers to tangle.