I like to turn the knobs on the cases I build. Dr. White’s chest has a total of twelve knobs. I’m not a skilled turner, but that hasn’t stopped me from building a lot of furniture with turned parts. Turning a batch of knobs that is “identical” could drive a turner to another hobby. However, it’s not too difficult to turn out a batch that matches “close enough.” Remember, this is a handmade project and hand-turned knobs scream craftsmanship. Watch this video to see how I turn out the knobs for this chest.
Even a hobbyist can benefit from a production approach. Turn a blank of reasonable length to yield multiple knobs. My first scrap yielded five knob blanks. Subsequent scraps yielded two knobs each. Turn the blank about 1/8” diameter larger than the finished knob. (This gives extra wood to true the knob when it is chucked.) Turn the shoulder for each knob using a parting tool and the tenon sizing tool. Cut each knob from the blank.
You now have a set of knob blanks ready to fasten on the chuck. Chuck the knob blank with a 1/8” gap between the chuck and the shoulder of the tenon. (This gives room for your gouges to cut without dulling them on the chuck.) Turn the knob to 7/8” diameter. Trim the tenon shoulder to ¾” diameter. Mark a line at 1” from the chuck shoulder. This defines where the curve starts that defines the end of the knob. Round the head of the knob. Cut the cove between the transition line and the shoulder to a ½” diameter. If you follow the key measurements, there won’t be a lot of variance in the knobs. (They’ll match “close enough.”) NOTE: Finish sand the knobs while chucked on the lathe. Remove knob from chuck and cut tenon to final length.
In the next blog entry, we’ll explore how to make drawers using half-blind dovetail joints on the Leigh dovetail jig.
-- Mark, Florida