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The Making Of Needles
From The Encyclopaedia Britiannica, circa 1797

"...the first thing is to pass the steel through a coal fire, and under a hammer, to bring it out of its square figure into a cylindrical one. This done, it is drawn through a large hole of a wire drawing iron, and returned into the fire, and drawn through a second hole of the iron smaller than the first; and thus successively from hole to hole,...observing every time it is to be drawn,that it be greased over with lard, to render it more manageable. The steel...is cut in pieces ... These pieces are flattened at one end on the anvil, in order to form the head and eye; they are then put into the fire; to soften them further; and thence taken out and pierced at each extreme of the flat part on the anvil , by force of the puncheon...The corners are then filed off the square of the heads, and a little cavity filed on each side of the flat of the head; this done,the point is formed with a file...; they are then laid to heat red hot on a long narrow iron, crooked at one end, in a charcoal fire; and when taken out thence, are thrown into a basin of cold water to harden. On this operation a good deal depends; too much heat burns them, and too little leaves them soft... When they are thus hardened, they are laid in an iron shovel more or less brisk in proportion to the thickness of the needles... This serves to temper them, and take off their brittleness...
    The next process is the polishing of them. To do this, they take 12,000 or 15,000 needles, and range them in little heaps against each other on a piece of new buckram sprinkled with emery dust. The needles thus disposed, emery dust is thrown over them, which is again sprinkled with oil of olives; at last the whole is made up into a roll, well bound at both ends. This roll is then laid on a polishing table, and over it a thick plank loaded with stones, which two men work backwards and forwards a day and a half... by which means are insensibly polished. After polishing, they are taken out, and the filth washed off them with hot water and soap; they are then wiped in a hot bran, a little moistened, placed with the needles in a round box, suspended in the air by a cord, which is kept stirring till the bran and needles be dry.
    Needles were first made in England by a native of India, but the art was lost at his death; it was, however, recovered by Christopher Greening in 1560...

Check out our English Sewing Needles. I hope the forging process has been streamlined a bit in 200 years.