Turning Handles and Knobs... What do I Need?

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Forum topic by Scheol posted 10-08-2015 03:48 PM 1167 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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11 posts in 1026 days

10-08-2015 03:48 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I have been considering putting new handles on several of my vintage tools (chisels, screwdrivers, plane knobs) and I am wondering what is the most economical way to start woodturning those pieces.

Is a lathe a must have? I have looked on the web for alternatives, but power drills or press drills setups don’t really look adequate…Are other methods available?

If the lathe is the best avenue, what make/models would be best suited keeping in mind that I reside in Canada and I am looking solely at turning handles/knobs (no bowls, spindles or other larger pieces).

Thank you in advance for your advice!

Best regards
Matt from the city of limestone, ON

16 replies so far

View JADobson's profile


1062 posts in 2133 days

#1 posted 10-08-2015 04:01 PM

How about this one:

Might try to talk him down in price though.

-- No craft is very far from the line beyond which is magic. -- Lord Dunsany — Instagram @grailwoodworks

View rhybeka's profile


4030 posts in 3144 days

#2 posted 10-08-2015 04:08 PM

I’m in the same boat but I recently purchased the Grizzly hobby drill lathe set up – but with as crazy as lifes been recently I’ve not gotten it set up and in use yet. I’d say it depends on on your drill press / drill capability and how much space you have. I don’t have the floor space to dedicate to a lathe that won’t get used a ton. This I can break down and use for other things as well. My 2 cents :)

-- Beka/Becky - aspiring jill of all trades, still learning to not read the directions.

View JayT's profile (online now)


5668 posts in 2233 days

#3 posted 10-08-2015 04:21 PM

I’ve got a couple of inexpensive solutions for turning. Both have challenges, but can work well for very little money and space.

First is a lathe attachment for the drill press from Shop Fox I’ve used it for chisel handles and for a couple bow style coping saws. It works fine, but turning on a vertical is harder than horizontal and I find myself with a crick in the neck from craning over to see well if turning for too long. Huge plus is that it takes up almost no space when not in use. Downside it that it takes a while to set up when needed—and then hope you don’t need the drill press while it’s on. DAMHIKT :-)

The second, more recent, set up is a bungee lathe made from a bungee cord, 2×4’s, a couple lag bolts and some screws. Only took a very short time to assemble. I’m still learning to use it well, but it has good potential. It was built based on this blog post from The English Woodworker. A bonus is that it’s easy to modify an old chisel or two for use with the bungee lathe instead of buying a bunch of turning tools.

Both work, but to be honest, I’m looking forward to building a bigger shop and getting a powered bench top lathe.

-- In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson

View Ocelot's profile


1980 posts in 2660 days

#4 posted 10-08-2015 04:38 PM

Harbor Freight sells this little lathe which is well received and quite inexpensive (especially on sale with a coupon). I have it, but don’t turn anything for a couple of years. Exactly the same machine is sold by Grizzly and others for higher prices.


View DKV's profile


3940 posts in 2526 days

#5 posted 10-08-2015 05:57 PM

I do all my handles and knobs with this.

-- This is a Troll Free zone.

View Scheol's profile


11 posts in 1026 days

#6 posted 10-08-2015 08:49 PM

JayT thanks for the information. I saw those a while ago online but wasn’t too sure if they would actually work as intended. You seem to have had some good success with this setup. It would be a good and i expensive first step ito woodturning.

Ocelot I wish we had HF here in Canada. PrincessAuto is probably as close as it gets, but their selection of woodworking tools remains limited. Might be worth the 45min drive to Watertown, NY.

View Wildwood's profile


2322 posts in 2157 days

#7 posted 10-08-2015 10:48 PM

JMHO, a mini lathe with few tools and accesories would be better than turning on a drill press.

-- Bill

View Bmezz's profile


41 posts in 1406 days

#8 posted 10-09-2015 11:50 AM

I have two suggestions. First, check out the woodturning club in Kingston. You will learn what you need to know to turn safely and which tools to acquire which will save you money. Secondly, while you are there often members have lathes for sale. Also there is mentoring and many clubs offer basic courses which will save you time and blood. Also Busy Bee is the closest thing to HF in Canada. Big store in Ottawa. Cheers, Bob

-- Member Valley Woodturners Ottawa. Member AAW

View Scheol's profile


11 posts in 1026 days

#9 posted 10-09-2015 12:20 PM

Thanks Bmezz. I was aware of the KWA, but not of the Kingston Woodturners. I guess I will go talk to them on 31 Oct at the Kingston LV event.

View SignWave's profile


440 posts in 3057 days

#10 posted 10-09-2015 03:50 PM

I was in a similar position. I turned some wands for a harry potter party on my drill press using bench chisels. They turned out fine, but working sideways isn’t very ergonomic. Would be fine for what you want to do.

I ended up getting interested in woodturning, and got the Rockler version of that lathe that Ocelot linked to at HF. It is a fine lathe, but tooling, chucks, etc. quickly add up to more than the cost of the machine.

-- Barry,

View Glen Peterson's profile

Glen Peterson

556 posts in 3079 days

#11 posted 10-10-2015 12:31 PM

Buy an inexpensive used lathe.

-- Glen

View helluvawreck's profile


31351 posts in 2889 days

#12 posted 10-10-2015 01:40 PM

I would think that you’d be able to find a complete small lathe that wouldn’t cost very much. There are always people who buy lathes thinking they will enjoy turning but find out that they don’t.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View hairy's profile


2717 posts in 3554 days

#13 posted 10-10-2015 01:42 PM

Router table and profile bits will get you a basic shape. You could do details with hand tools.

-- My reality check bounced...

View Scheol's profile


11 posts in 1026 days

#14 posted 10-20-2015 02:41 PM

Hairy, are you recommending profiling the stock with several successive passes with a slight angle change? Actually I have a router table and a coping sled so that would be very easy to try. Thanks for the idea!

View Scheol's profile


11 posts in 1026 days

#15 posted 10-20-2015 02:41 PM

Hairy, are you recommending profiling the stock with several successive passes with a slight angle change? Actually I have a router table and a coping sled so that would be very easy to try. Thanks for the idea!

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