Turning slippery slope #11: knobs and light pulls

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Blog entry by Betsy posted 03-03-2009 04:35 AM 2256 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 10: CA glue finish - what a deal! Part 11 of Turning slippery slope series Part 12: Pen turning questions »

OK – so now my lack of knowledge of turning comes out—- yeah right – like it wasn’t out there already!

I’m thinking that since I can turn a key chain and do OK, not great, but OK on some pens, I’m wondering about turning knobs for my cabinet project and making some light chain pulls to replace the ugly, plastic, lifeless things currently hanging from my light fixtures.

First the light pulls. It seems to me it would be easier to turn the pull then drill it. But that means trying to drill an odd shaped object and get the hole for the string/chain straight all the way through. But if you drill first, don’t you run the chance of turning right through it?

The light pulls I have now have ferrules on the ends. Do you really need those?

Now onto knobs. I have no earthly idea what is the best way to turn knobs and get the screw hole done correctly. Any advise is appreciated (even if it is, go buy them!).

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

6 comments so far

View jerryw's profile


158 posts in 3913 days

#1 posted 03-03-2009 05:02 AM

I would drill a small hole, maybe 1/8 inch thru the wood and use that to center up on the lathe. don’t thighten the tail stock too tight it may split the wood.

-- jerryw-wva.

View lew's profile


12056 posts in 3752 days

#2 posted 03-03-2009 05:27 AM


I have found that with smaller parts or odd shaped parts, it is easier to drill first.

The other option is to get a drill chuck replacement for the center in the tail stock. Turn the piece, replace the tail stock center with the chuck and drill bit then run the lathe and advance the chuck/bit into the piece. This will drill a centered hole in the turned piece.


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Big_Bob's profile


173 posts in 3706 days

#3 posted 03-03-2009 09:52 PM

As for knobs use a small screw chuck. They are not expensive. Or you can make one by just taking a face plate and mounting a screw centered in a block wood. First mount the wood on the faceplate and then use a drill chuck to drill a center hole then run a screw through the wood pointing to the tailstock. Then if you pre drill your knob then you can screw it onto your screw chuck. I would turn the wood down first so you are not trying to hold a log with a small screw.

When you make knobs do not get to upset if they are all perfect copies of each other. Remember when they are installed they will be a foot or so apart and no one is going to measure each one to see if they are perfect.

I guarantee you the knobs you make will add a great deal on interest to your project and they are much better and cheaper than anything you can buy.

-- Bob Clark, Tool Collector and Sawdust Maker

View cajunpen's profile


14575 posts in 4063 days

#4 posted 03-04-2009 01:21 AM

Betsy you are amazing – always expanding your horizons. You should buy yourself a drill chuck for your lathe. You can find one at Woodcraft, or almost any woodworking supplier. You will need to know the Morse Taper on your lathe (#1, #2, etc). Once you have this handy little tool – drilling centered holes in your project will be a breeze.

I’ve never turned a knob, but I have made a few pulls for my fans, it’s not that difficult. Good luck, I’ll be watching for your pictures.

-- Bill - "Suit yourself and let the rest be pleased."

View CaptnA's profile


116 posts in 3810 days

#5 posted 03-04-2009 01:31 AM

I drill on the lathe after I’ve turned a pull.
I’ve got a pen vise and thought no problem. I was wrong.
After watching Raffan do it effortlessly with a bit and pliers I figured I could
do it with a chuck in the tailstock. Works great.
I got the chuck at HF for under $15.
On the fan pulls I’ve made for fans with 2 pulls – light and fan
I usually make them contrasting so they aren’t supposed to be clones

-- CaptnA - "When someone hurts you, write it in the sand so the winds of forgiveness will scatter the memory... "

View Betsy's profile


3391 posts in 3893 days

#6 posted 03-04-2009 04:56 AM

Thanks guys. I’m going to try the drill chuck. As it happens I have one. In fact, I’ve had it quite a while – have no idea when I got it, or what for, but it was in the box of miscellaneous tools I have. Probably one of those “I just got to have that” purchases.

I’m going to be experimenting with this this weekend.

For light pulls – do you need to use a ferrul?

Thanks again.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

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