Sharpeners & Spares

This is a general guide to the main types of needle sharpeners. It is aimed at helping enthusiasts to use thorn needles, and above all to enjoy records!

We usually have a selection of original sharpeners for sale. Stock varies, so please email and ask for a list of what we have available, or for advice.

All types of sharpener shown below are viable. Some are better or easier than others. They have become collectable in their own right and can sell for high prices elsewhere.

Needle socket diameters as-found will often fit only certain sizes of thorn. Sharpeners with chucks (like the tip of a drill) were often sold with different sized collets which have usually been lost over the years. If too small, it may be possible to ease the fingers apart slightly, or carefully bore out to a slightly larger diameter.

Original abrasives were often surprisingly coarse. Perhaps this was so that needles were used up sooner, so more would be sold! They were usually glasspaper, but we recommend using 240 grade wet-and-dry paper. We can supply replacements for any type, but you may wish to make your own (use a compass cutter for the circular types). Attach with 3M Spray Mount or similar (impact adhesive or Pritt Stick will also work, but take care to ensure an even layer).

Rubber wheels/tyres usually need replacing. Some types use a standard Singer sewing machine rubber wheel (for the bobbin winder mechanism); others require a rubber o-ring of the right size. Sizes below are approximate and sometimes vary slightly from one example to another.

Early type BCN

2 types – one metal with wooden handle, other Bakelite.

Tyre: 9mm id x 3mm xs

Late type BCN

These have a solid wooden block for the ‘anvil’.

Tyre: 9mm id x 3mm xs

IM Pointmaster

Most are Bakelite (in many different colours) but a minority produced during WW2 were


Tyre: 9mm id x 4mm xs

The tyre size for IMs can be particularly variable due to the design; the height of the abrasive surface (attached to a thick card strip) may also need slight adjustment. Note, we can supply special BCN needles in black to refill original IM “top hat” cartons.


2 types (the larger is shown).Tyre: Singer

In common with the RM, the larger version is the next best sharpener to the MAL in our estimation.


Similar to the Universal shown above, but more squat in shape. Tyre: Singer


Made by the late Miles Mallinson in more recent decades, the MAL is in our opinion the best

thorn needle sharpener ever made, apart from the Expert.

Tyre: Singer

Meltrope – 2 types, the earlier/longer of which was sold as BCN’s first sharpener.

Kacti (U.S.) – also sold under various other brand names.

Expert – the absolute Rolls-Royce, but vanishingly rare.

(No tyre)

EMG-Davey Rollright

An innovative and superbly efficient design. A soft rubber facing on the spindle takes up drive from a running gramophone turntable. The only drawbacks are that it is easy to take off more material than necessary; and dust settling on the turntable and motorboard is undesirable. The abrasive is a grindstone which is highly unlikely ever to wear out.

Tyre set is available from Chunny in Australia – email

(Chunny also supplies the finest natural rubber isolators for EMG, Meltrope & HMV soundboxes).

Privacy Links