Needle Felting Tools
Needle felting uses a specific type of barbed needle, called a felting needle, to turn fiber into felt. The following tools are typically used in needle felting.
Felting Needles: These needles have sharp, barbed surfaces that tangle and compress the wool to turn it into felt. They come in different gauges which all serve different purposes. 36 gauge needles are a coarse needle that is typically used when a stronger needle is needed to keep the needle from breaking. 38 gauge needles are general purpose felting needles, suitable for most applications. 38 gauge star shaped needles (most are triangle shaped needles) pulls more fiber for each jab so your item will felt a bit faster. 40 gauge needles are very slim and are used for felting details on a piece, such as facial features on a felted animal.
Foam Pad: Foam pads used to protect your work surface and needles while felting. The item to be felted is put on the pad and then the needle is jabbed into the wool. This protects your table from damage if the needle passes all the way through the wool. It also keeps your needle from breaking by contact with a hard surface.
Needle Felting Mats: These mats look like upside down brushes. They serve the same purpose as a foam pad in providing a service to felt on that protects your table and your felting needles. It is a mainly a matter of personal preference which surface a felter uses though the brushes tend to need replacing less often than the foam pads.
Tack Board: This is another type of felting surface that can be used. It is made specifically for use with Art Felt paper. Art Felt is a felting technique that combines needle felting and wet felting basics to create the finished piece. As such the surface of the tack board is stiff and shiny. This protects the surface from being degraded from the water used in the felting process. The harder surface also keeps the Art Felt paper from being pulled into the foam while needle felting.
Foam Forms: Shaped foam can be used as a template to create needle felted items. Bowls, hats, vases, purses, and other shaped objects can be made using a foam form to felt the wool around. Most forms are for hats, but the felter’s imagination is the limit to the use of these forms.
Felting Needle Holders: Needle holders serve two purposes. One they help with hand fatigue as it is much easier to hold a larger handle than it is to hold a single needle. The second thing is that they allow multiple needles to be used at once so a larger area can be felted all at once speeding up the needle felting process.
Pre Felt Batting: Pre felt is a wool batt that has been felted just enough for the wool fibers to start to hold together. It isn’t dense like felt, but it somewhat compacted. It makes a very good base for felted tapestries and other items that need a plain wool base to start with. Filters find using pre felt convenient as it skips the first steps in a felted project that needs a base which saves time.
Fiber Blenders: Fiber blenders are used to combine different colors or types of wool fibers to create the exact blend a felted wants to use. They are similar to hand cards but are much smaller as most felters work with small amounts of wool and the larger hand cards are not needed. These blenders are not suitable for processing fleece as they are not sturdy or large enough for that purpose.
Needle Felting Adapter: This adaptor changes your sewing machine into a needle felting machine. The change is permanent as you have to make significant changes to the sewing machine. It speeds up the felting process even more by adding some automation to it. Typically these adapters are not used for fine details, but instead to felt a large area quickly.
AddiQuick Felting Tool: This is another method of speeding up the felting process. This is an electric powered felting tool that holds one needle. The machine allows the needle to be jabbed into the wool at a much faster rate than most people can do. Because of the speed felting happens quicker and it is easier on your hands. It takes a special needle designed for the tool, regular felting needles cannot be used with this machine.
Felting Machines: These machines hold hundreds of needles and just about fully automate the process of making sheets of felted material. They have rollers that move the wool to be felted through the machine and have 11.5 needles per inch of working width of the machine. They come in many lengths starting at 36” and going up to 60” Other widths, including larger than 60”, can be special ordered as well. These machines speeds up the felting process dramatically.
NOTE: When working with felting needles you always want to make sure that your tetanus shot is up to date. Felting needles are very sharp and should be handled with care.