Can You Sharpen Knitting Needles?




can you sharpen knitting needles

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The knitting needle is your primary tool to knit garments, toys, and really any other knitted item. That’s why the efficiency becomes significantly lower if the knitting needle is not in tip-top condition, like if it has become dull, for example.

In most cases, you’d just buy a new one, but any hand knitter would know that sharpening it instead is usually better. So, can you sharpen knitting needles?

Fortunately, yes, you can sharpen knitting needles, though it’s not as simple as sharpening knives. After all, unlike knives, knitting needles come in different materials, be it wood, metal, carbon fiber, and plastic.

Naturally, there would be different sharpening methods for each type of needle. But then again, why would you want to sharpen knitting needles in the first place?

Why Would You Want To Sharpen Knitting Needles?

People may argue that buying a new knitting needle would be more convenient than sharpening your old one. But convenience isn’t the only thing that matters.

For one, reusing your knitting needle saves you money. Secondly, if you buy a new needle, you have to go through the trouble of getting used to its feel, figuring out how to grip it properly, and other annoyances that knitters have to deal with.

Needless to say, buying a new sharpening needle is not as practical or even as convenient as you would like to believe, at least when compared to sharpening it.

Can You Sharpen Knitting Needles?

As stated earlier, the short answer to your question is—yes, you can sharpen knitting needles. But if you want a more sophisticated answer, here it is:

You can only sharpen knitting needles if they’re made of wood, metal, or plastic. If your knitting needles are made of carbon fiber, then, unfortunately, you cannot.

That’s because carbon fiber is a bit too sturdy, for lack of a better word. You may not even be able to scrape its material. On the bright side, carbon fiber knitting needles are durable, so you may not need to sharpen them in the first place.

That holds true even with a tool, and yes, you’ll need a tool to sharpen needles.

What Tool Is Used To Sharpen Needles?

The tool necessary to sharpen needles will vary according to its material and for obvious reasons. Here’s a rundown of those tools according to the material.

Wooden Knitting Needles (Bamboo)

Wooden knitting needles, which are primarily made of bamboo, are the easiest type of needles to sharpen. After all, wood is much easier to scrape than metal.

As far as tools are concerned, you only need a nail file.

To sharpen wooden knitting needles with a nail file, you just have to scrape the tip of the needle in the same way you would scrape your nail with that same tool.

Sandpaper is also an excellent alternative, and it works just as well as nail files.

Metal Knitting Needles (Aluminum)

Metal knitting needles, which are primarily made of aluminum, are slightly harder to sharpen. For this, you need a rotary tool that’s compatible with a grinder bit.

To sharpen a metal knitting needle, you simply have to attach the grinder bit, which is usually made of ceramic, onto the rotary tool. Then, turn the tool on and gently grind the tip of the needle with it. Make sure you don’t go overboard with it.

The process is rather simple. The main issue here is that rotary tools cost around $50 to $100, so it’s a bit more expensive, but rotary tools are handy, anyway.

Plastic Knitting Needles (Acrylic)

Plastic knitting needles, which are primarily made of acrylic, are surprisingly easy to sharpen. For this, you only need a whetstone, the same one you’d use on a knife.

You can sharpen a plastic needle with a whetstone in the same way you would a knife—place it on the whetstone, then move it across while putting pressure.

The only difference is you need to rotate the needle as you’re doing this. That way, the entire circumference of the tip will be sharpened and not just one side.

Keep in mind that there may be knitting needles made of materials other than bamboo, aluminum, and acrylic. For example, some wooden needles are made of ivory wood, and plastic knitting needles can be made of Galalith plastic.

For those kinds of needles, it would be for the best if you test it out first before going all in. The aforementioned tools may or may not be able to sharpen them.

In addition, it’s worth noting that there’s no fixed method of sharpening knitting needles. These methods were discovered by fellow knitters. In other words, just like them, you can discover your own methods if you want to experiment a bit.

Can You Sharpen New Knitting Needles?

It’s a common misconception that you should only sharpen knitting needles if they’re getting dull due to repeated use. However, that’s not the case, or at least it shouldn’t be. Knitters can also sharpen even a recently-bought knitting needle.

Of course, not everyone would want to do that, but it’s an option for those who think their new knitting needles are not sharp enough for their liking.

You have to keep in mind, though, that after doing so, you need to do some finishing touches. Otherwise, you may end up with a rough knitting needle.

How Do You Smooth Rough Knitting Needles?

After sharpening a knitting needle, you may notice that while it’s become sharper, it has also become rougher. And a rough needle is even more annoying to deal with than a dull needle. Thankfully, though, you can smooth rough needles.

Wooden Knitting Needles (Bamboo)

For wooden knitting needles, you’ll need a wax paper or candle wax. All you have to do is rub the tip of the knitting needle with the wax, and that should do the trick.

Metal Knitting Needles (Aluminum)

For metal knitting needles, attach a sander bit to the rotary tool. The sander bit is specifically designed for sanding or smoothening a surface, so it works perfectly.

Then, scrape the tip of the metal needle with the sander bit.

Plastic Knitting Needles (Acrylic)

For plastic knitting needles, all you have to do is scrape the tip with sandpaper in the same way you would have scraped the tip of a wooden knitting needle.

With these, you can make your rough knitting needles smoother. You can do this anytime, and not just whenever you sharpen your knitting needles.

How Much Does Sharpening Knitting Needles Cost?

As you might imagine, the cost of sharpening a knitting needle would vary according to the needle’s material. Here’s a look at what you should expect:

  • For wooden knitting needles, expect to spend $10 on a nail file or $1 for a piece of sandpaper. A nail file is better if you intend to sharpen it frequently. Sandpaper is better if you intend for this to be a one-time thing.
  • For metal knitting needles, expect to spend around $50 to $100 on a rotary tool and an additional $5 to $10 for the grinder and sander bits.
  • For plastic knitting needles, expect to spend around $30 for a whetstone.

If the cost is a bit too high for your liking, consider buying a sharp knitting needle. That way, you won’t have to spend money to sharpen it in the foreseeable future.

Which Knitting Needles Are the Sharpest?

First and foremost, it’s important to note that knitting needles can indeed vary in terms of sharpness. And the following are the three sharpest knitting needles:

1. addi Click Rocket Lace Interchangeable Circular Knitting Needle

addi Click Rocket Knitting Needle consists of eight pairs of circular knitting needles, all of which are relatively sharp. The package also comes with three interchangeable cables.

2. ChiaoGoo Twist Stainless Steel

ChiaoGoo Twist Stainless Steel includes 13 pairs of hollow, stainless steel knitting needles. It also comes with different cables, which adds to the customization.

3. Hampton Art 200651 Knitters Pride

Hampton Art 200651 Knitters Pride is a set of nine pairs of knitting needles.

Since they’re interchangeable, you have several options to choose from depending on your project. While they only vary in size and cord length, they’re all sharp.

Unfortunately, most of the sharp knitting needles you’ll find on the market come in a package, so you’ll have to pay around $100 to $200 if you want to get them.

On the flip side, these packages include several needles, so if one pair eventually gets dull, you can switch to a new one right away.


Though you can always sharpen your knitting needles if you have the tools, that doesn’t mean you should every day. Moreover, after you’ve sharpened your knitting needles, it would be best if you practice caution since you’re more likely to hurt yourself with a sharp knitting needle than you would with a dull one.

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