Bookbinding Needles | Bookbinding Tools 101

Needles are an important tool in bookbinding since we would need to sew book signatures together most of the time.

There are many types of needles available of different lengths, different thickness, different forms. Which type should you use during bookbinding?

Regular Needles vs Curved Needles


Source: Amazon

Regular needles refer to the straight needles that are commonly used for sewing. These are easily available in most craft stores and even in departmental stores.

upholstery needle

Source: Amazon

Curved Needles are commonly used in upholstery where thick fabric such as leather have to be sewn onto furniture. These needles are curved to allow users to reach odd angles.

Curved needles may not be as easily available as regular needles. They also tend to break easily due to their shape and the way you handle them.

We prefer to use curved needles as its shape provides an easier grip and allows us to work the needle around edges of the book with ease.

What to look out for when choosing needles for bookbinding?

There are 4 basic features that we look at when selecting our bookbinding needles.

1.Shape of the needle

As mentioned above, we prefer curved needles due to the grip and ease it provides.

Other than looking at the main shape of the needle, I also look at the end of the needle.


Source: Satra

Generally, I would prefer needles with a longer shank (where you put the thread through) for easy threading and a narrow butt (the end of the needle) to avoid the painful experience of having to pull the last bit of the needle through the book signature.

2.Thickness of Needle

This would depend on the thickness of the thread you are using.

You will want a needle that is slightly thicker than the thread that you are using for ease of sewing. Also bear in mind that depending on the sewing/bookbinding method you use, you may need to thread through the same hole several times.

The thickness of the needle also suggests its durability. You will want to choose a needle that does not break easily.

** Tip from a bookbinder: When buying an assorted set of needles, always make sure that there is more than 1 needle of every size. This will ensure that you have a backup available should your working needle break.


3.Length of Needle

Generally, a shorter needle is easier to maneuver during the sewing of the book signature, especially at the tight corners and bends. However a short needle can be difficult to grip.

Test needles of different lengths in order to find out the ideal length that you are comfortable with.

You can purchase an assortment of curved needles from Amazon too: Curved Needles / Upholstery Needles

2 thoughts on “Bookbinding Needles | Bookbinding Tools 101”

  1. Since i am a beginner bookbinder. I have been looking into different needles. and I think curved needles look easier to use. What size of curved needle is best?

    • Hey Lee, I currently prefer the small 7.5cm (3″) ones as they are easy for me to work with. You can get a pack of assorted sizes for cheap and give different sizes a try.


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