Machinist Toolbox #9: Pull My Finger...

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Blog entry by PurpLev posted 12-26-2010 04:20 AM 8063 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 8: Not Yet Finished, but It's Finished Part 9 of Machinist Toolbox series Part 10: Wrapping it up - Lee Valley Style »

Jack and Jill,
Went up the hill.
To fetch a pail of water.

Jack fell down,
And broke his crown,
And Jill came tumbling after.

Then up Jack got,
and home did trot.
To old dame dob,
Who fixed his KNOB,
With vinegar and brown paper.

What does this have to do with a machinist toolbox? well. I also had to fix my knobs, but not with vinegar and not with brown paper (although the walnut IS indeed brown)... read on:

I wasn’t feeling too well today so I probably should not have done much work, but being so close to the end I couldn’t resist.

The drawer pulls

My original concept was to use a rectangular pull indented into the drawer front and have a 1” hole to allow finger access to the pull:

The concept was good, and I like the design, however it entails a practical flaw – at 1” diameter hole, there isn’t enough room to fit 2 fingers in order to grab the pull. Back to the drawing board…

I thought about constructing something similar to this:

But at the scale I’m working with I decided to go with something more mechanical put and simple. The idea is – I needed to figure a way to create some surface that would counter the pulling force of a finger, and I came to the following pull:

It will fit into my 1” diameter holes, allow ample access for 1 finger which will then catch on the back angle. In theory this can also be done without the back ‘disk’, but since I had drilled 1 pull hole in a drawer front too deep (not too deep – that drawer had different mechanics that blew the drawer bottom through the hole) I figured this would cover it up, Also it makes alignment in the 1” hole real easy as it fits snugly inside and won’t fall off due to gravity.

To make the pulls I started with a hole saw, 1 1/4” diameter. The 1 1/8” diameter hole saw created a plug that was a tad too loose in my holes so I chose on going oversized than undersized.

Next I used my lathe and turned those plugs to a piston fit in the holes to within 0.001” in diameter – not really necessary, but it was good practice on turning to specific size:

Once I had a good fit, I pushed the plug into the drawer front, and marked the depth. At that point I was able to cut off the excess on the bandsaw. The parts being so small and round (hazard) were not an easy cut. I used wooden screw clamps as a sled since it has a good amount of surface that can safely ride the saw table and cut the line:

Once I had the sized plugs it was time to shape the pulls. Again using the same technique with the wooden clamps I held the parts on the ‘front’ of it, and cut 2 lines. 1 parallel to the back of the pull, and another angular to make the front of the pull:

The angle should be ~30-45 although it isn’t that relevant and won’t really be seen anyways. The important thing here is to create a back angle surface that will counter the pulling force of the finger. The shallower the the angle the more material is left on the pull making it more stout and less delicate. I freehand cut all of the pulls without worrying about internal appearance, and put 2 coats of poly on them to enrich the color more than any other reason:

I still haven’t decided if I’ll glue those in (silicone) or screw them in. At the moment I’m favoring the silicone to avoid introducing another material to the drawers fronts.

While at the saw, I also cut the 4 legs, and the parts for the front panel. this baby is coming to a complete state soon.

Thanks for reading,

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

12 comments so far

View Karson's profile


35125 posts in 4426 days

#1 posted 12-26-2010 05:07 AM

Sharon: I see that I kicked you into the hole filler upper. Nice concept and creation.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View fernandoindia's profile


1081 posts in 2969 days

#2 posted 12-26-2010 06:07 AM

nice creation on the pulls. be watching the final outcome. Great blog Sharon., Thank You

-- Back home. Fernando

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

2794 posts in 3463 days

#3 posted 12-26-2010 06:21 AM

I think what you made is much better than the original idea. Well executed! Can’t wait to see them installed.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 2882 days

#4 posted 12-26-2010 07:00 AM

A very unique knob.
That is thinking inside the box. :)

Thanks for sharing


-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3140 days

#5 posted 12-26-2010 09:18 AM

looking good sofare but will the design change work ….
we just have to sit excided on the flat and wait in patience
till the master himself reveal the secret with bravur ,bells and wissels

thank´s for sharing the toturial

take care

View ellen35's profile


2738 posts in 3458 days

#6 posted 12-26-2010 02:04 PM

I actually like the new ones better, Sharon. Of course, if you really don’t like it, I’d be glad to come buy and pick up the whole thing so you can start over ;-))
This is turning out to be a beautiful project.

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View twokidsnosleep's profile


1106 posts in 2999 days

#7 posted 12-26-2010 05:07 PM

Good problem solving skills and thoughtful enough to work out the bugs before cutting for all the wrong design pulls.
I would have cut first, asked questions later …..and screwed it all up
It is really coming along!

-- Scott "Some days you are the big dog, some days you are the fire hydrant"

View nobuckle's profile


1120 posts in 2786 days

#8 posted 12-26-2010 05:51 PM

Those are going to look great. It’s great to have the skills to work in such a precise manner. Having the machines to carry it out is even better. Look forward to seeing the finished chest.

-- Doug - Make an effort to live by the slogan "We try harder"

View Brad_Nailor's profile


2539 posts in 3983 days

#9 posted 12-26-2010 07:58 PM

Sharon…great idea, great Sketchup model, great execution! That box is going to be an heirloom piece!


View moonls's profile


412 posts in 3012 days

#10 posted 12-27-2010 05:03 PM

Your problem-solving skills are great! I cin’t wait to see the final post on this project.

-- Lorna, Cape Cod

View jm82435's profile


1285 posts in 3767 days

#11 posted 12-30-2010 01:58 AM

Nice job. I like the knob design also. It looks like it gives more clearance for fingers.
When you said you were making it to house your lathe tools, I was thinking wood lathe.
I use my metal lathe for wood projects too. Yours looks nicer with the quick change tool post.
What type of insert do you use when turning wood?

-- A thing of beauty is a joy forever...

View PurpLev's profile


8536 posts in 3674 days

#12 posted 12-30-2010 02:01 AM

jm82435 – Thanks. I do not use inserts. I have a some brazed carbide cutters that I got with the lathe, and am using those with the wood in this example, I have recently switched to HSS cutters though which I can grind myself to a better point.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

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