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Straight needles are just spindle shafts without whorls ;-) Seriously - dowels (preferably hardwood) just need to be cut to the desired length, one or two tips (cut and/or filed and sanded) and a bit of sanding to become knitting needles. As I generally knit handspun wool which still has a bit of grease in it, I don't polish the needles before use - the wool grease does it for me. But that shouldn't stop you, if you want to put in a bit of extra work.
By the way, the fastest way to sand/polish a dowel is by clamping it into a cheap cordless drill/screwdriver (the cordless ones can stand on a work surface, they are slower and not so powerful - especially the cheap ones, and especially when the battery is low, which might be a good idea for your first try). Don't clamp too hard (you don't want to mark the wood). Start with low settings all around (low force, slow speed - make sure percussion is switched OFF), watch out where you point the tip and don't burn the sandpaper (just hold it LIGHLY against the wood) or your fingers. Again, I did it without harming myself or the material, but YOU are responsible for YOUR actions.
I haven't built them, but the principle rests the same (except for the power drill polishing!). So, if you want some (apparantly they are beneficial in some cases of joint/tendon problems), just get dowels with a square cross section from the hardware store, put points on them and round off the edges a bit.
Page updated: 07 April 2007