All knotted up

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Project by Gary posted 08-27-2007 05:02 AM 2315 views 5 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve made several two-ring knot pens but not the four-ring knot. I’ve been wanting to do this but
waited ‘til I had a jig made that will allow me to have the exactness and repeatability I want. Since I
don’t own an Incra, making something that’s easy to use and take on/off the saw was necessary.
Here’s the pen I made using my new simple system.

-- Gary, Florida

8 comments so far

View Karson's profile


35152 posts in 4637 days

#1 posted 08-27-2007 05:04 AM

Great looking Pen.

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

View mot's profile


4922 posts in 4273 days

#2 posted 08-27-2007 05:58 AM

Hmmm…simple isn’t the word that comes to mind. Nice pen.

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4035 posts in 4300 days

#3 posted 08-27-2007 06:55 AM

Okay, some one has to ask…is there a blog to follow on this system? No one will blame you if you need to keep the magic trick secret, but you have us on pins and needles about the simple system.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View Robb's profile


660 posts in 4170 days

#4 posted 08-27-2007 11:57 AM

I agree with what mot said above. This is so far beyond me that all I can say is that it’s terrific. I don’t begin to have a clue how to do something like that! Lovely work!

-- Robb

View MsDebbieP's profile


18618 posts in 4397 days

#5 posted 08-27-2007 12:52 PM

simple? Knot!!

I was wondering about a blog as well.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View Atelierwoodworks's profile


108 posts in 4250 days

#6 posted 08-27-2007 09:54 PM

Wonderful work, would also like to see the process.

-- Atelierwoodworks Vaud Switzerland

View Gary's profile


1340 posts in 4560 days

#7 posted 08-28-2007 04:28 AM

Thanks for the kind words y’all.
I’m not a blogger but I can tell you one way to do this. It really is easy.

Here’s how I’m doing it using my table saw and a homemade jig. Bear in mind everything I’m writing can be done just as well using handtools. In fact, it’d make a very fine knot done with a thin-kerf backsaw.

The jig is just a miter sled for my table saw. Y’all have seen lots of these, it’s a 90-degree angle that’s bisected at 45-degrees by the blade. Standing behind the table saw, it looks like you’re pushing an arrow head away from you. Each fence of that sled is thus at 45-degrees to your saw blade. Mine has two runners, one for each miter slot and—this is crucial in my opinion—the runners were hand-planed to just fit in the slots and only run smoothly when they’re waxed. For longevity, the runners must be made of a stable hardwood.

My raw blank starts as an oversized stock of 1” x 1” square extra long, say 10”.
My contrasting material, the “knot” must be milled to the thickness of the saw kerf—it must be an extremely accurate fit to obtain a good knot. Very snug but not too tight; it should push out air when slid in place.
I made mine using a small wooden sled while running the stock thru the planer.
When planing stock that thin, you’ll likely lose some once in a while. You could use a drum sander or some such, but I find the speed and smooth surface of planing warrants risking some lost material as it’s not a substantial loss.

I square the ends using my standard 90-degree TS sled, then switch to the miter sled.
Because I’m using a 1” square blank, the blade is raised to 7/8” above the bed of the miter sled.
Mark the blank where the tube will go and position and clamp a stop block to one of the fences so that when the blank is pushed against the stop, the kerf will be in the center of the tube—the future barrel. Since this is a 45-degree cut, you have to envision where the center of said cut is in the center of the tube. It’s not critical that it be centered as your taste may be to have it at or above center. Just be sure you leave yourself enough room to square the tube later.

Clamp the blank in place and make your first cut. I use small handscrews because they hold the blank squarely against the fence and allow you to get in close on small stock. My hands are well away from the blade at all times.
Glue in the kerf-filling knot stock. I use Medium viscosity CA for all these glue-ups.
Once the piece is glued in and set, cut off any excess, smooth the blank’s surface again, rotate it 180 degrees about the 1” sides, clamp the blank against the stop block again and make the second cut.
Since the piece of stock I made for the knot is roughly 2-1/2’ long, I simply glue it in, and cut off the excess with a gent’s backsaw.
Glue in the second piece and repeat, this time rotating the stock 90 degrees, then a fourth time rotated 180 degrees.
Again, the cut sequence is: first cut, rotate 180, rotate 90, rotate 180.
Because the blank is never cut apart and a stop block is being used and you’re cutting off the same fence,
the distance and angle of cut is constant and the fit is dead on.
After all four inserts are in place go back to the 90-degree TS sled, clamp the blank in place and cut the blank to length.
Mark the center, drill through the center, glue the tube in, square the ends to the tube, turn your pen.
Smile, you’ve made a 4-ring knot. Simple! ;-)

Making an accurate jig AND making the contrasting stock that matches the kerf thickness is probably more difficult than making the pen AND, oooh, I probably shouldn’t say this, but if your angle is steeper than 45-degrees—say 60 to 70—the knots become elongated and look really cool.

Try it, you’ll love your results. And, if anything I wrote isn’t clear to you, feel free to contact me or post here—if it’s confusing to you, it’s likely confusing to others as well.

I’ll try taking photos next time I’m working on one of these.


-- Gary, Florida

View Greg Mitchell's profile

Greg Mitchell

1381 posts in 4305 days

#8 posted 08-29-2007 07:44 PM

Great looking pens Gary, and thank s for sharing the instruction on making.

-- Greg Mitchell--Lowell,

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