Lathe Question - Turning a Knob

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Forum topic by CharlieM1958 posted 10-19-2011 06:15 PM 2578 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4216 days

10-19-2011 06:15 PM

Here’s a question for you turners:

How would you hold the stock to turn a replica Stanley plane front knob? I know this seems pretty basic, but since I started turning I’ve been doing larger things like bowls and goblets, and I’m having a little trouble with this knob

My first thought was to turn it with my woodworm screw in the bottom end of the knob, and live center on the top. Twice, I’ve gotten very close to completion only to have the knob break near the bottom. I’m using padauk, which tends to be kind of brittle, so maybe that is part of the problem.

Thoughts? Suggestions?

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

16 replies so far

View PurpLev's profile


8535 posts in 3646 days

#1 posted 10-19-2011 06:21 PM

I can’t make it from your post, but I would turn a longer piece especially on the bottom, and then slice it to size (height) with a bandsaw/handsaw

that way you can comfortably have a larger base that can be held more securely

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

View bubbyboy's profile


137 posts in 2691 days

#2 posted 10-19-2011 06:24 PM

Can you turn it in the middle of a spindle say 6 inches long and then just part it off when finished.

-- I just don't understand. I have cut it 3 times and it is still to short.

View Mary Anne's profile

Mary Anne

1058 posts in 3206 days

#3 posted 10-19-2011 06:39 PM

I would use a glue block and live center instead of the woodworm screw, Charlie. I don’t know how narrow the bottom of the plane knob is, but if you are still having problems with it breaking, consider turning the narrow bottom end on the live center side and shape the knob part on glue block side. You should be able to shape it down to a very small nub that would take minimal sanding after parting it off.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4216 days

#4 posted 10-19-2011 06:45 PM

Good suggestions! My next attempt was going to be to turn it in the center of a longer spindle and then cut it free. I just wanted to see if there were any other obvious solutions I was missing.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4024 posts in 4062 days

#5 posted 10-19-2011 06:50 PM

Do you have a four jaw chuck an a way to bore through the tailstock? (Oh Joy, new tools to buy!)
I would rough out a knob & longer-than-needed tenon between centers (you’ll get the center marked on end grain this way), mount the knob end in the chuck, bore it and dimension the bottom (with a longer stub to re-chuck). Then you can flip it in the chuck, refine the shape, sand and finish before cutting a final length and square shoulder/parting line. I would cut it off by hand at the last, although I suppose a talented turner could part it off and catch it off the lathe. I would implant it in a wall this way, though.
Definitely get a consensus, I’m pretty rusty with the turning. :}

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

View DaddyZ's profile


2475 posts in 3038 days

#6 posted 10-19-2011 06:52 PM

Put it on a bolt & chuck it in the drill press, MAFE done one a year or so ago.

-- Pat - Worker of Wood, Collector of Tools, Father of one

View Porchfish's profile


823 posts in 2530 days

#7 posted 10-19-2011 07:30 PM

I would check with “moment” for his approach, which I believe I remember to be utilization of posi-centrifical four jaw balanced gyro mounted Super Nova,in conjunction with a live #33 morose taper, using afterburners to part finial ! (have I the correct steps in order here moment ?) Should be piece of cake (genovese !)

your north florida buddy porchfish

-- The pig caught under the fence is always the one doing all the squealing !

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3301 days

#8 posted 10-19-2011 07:41 PM

well charlie im not a turner, so i cant help, but after reading porchfish’s solution, maybe i need to stay away from turning…afterburners huh…..sounds like you need to be a jet fighter pilot to get this project done…lol…..hope all is well with you charlie…grizz

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View rance's profile


4258 posts in 3158 days

#9 posted 10-19-2011 08:03 PM

Chuck the wood in a scroll chuck.
Use your tailstock to drill a center hole.
Carefully turn the right end to begin forming the knob.
Bring tailstock w/live center to support right end.
Turn the rest of the knob.
Back off the tailstock.
Sand & apply your finish.
Part it off.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View David Grimes's profile

David Grimes

2078 posts in 2638 days

#10 posted 10-19-2011 08:13 PM

@CharlieM1958, I’m as newbie to turning as anybody ever was, but I have been making my tool handles from what started as a 48” piece. I’ve been turning from the tail end til I like it, then parting it off… then repeating the process until I get to the last remaining length (where I’m at now… only one left to turn). If I had to do it all over, I still would work off the one long piece versus cutting into smaller lengths and doing them individually). The same center is used all the way til the end on the machine end.

-- If you're going to stir the pot, think BIG spoon or SMALL boat paddle. David Grimes, Georgia

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3072 days

#11 posted 10-19-2011 08:18 PM

I would start with a piece of wood that is at least an inch longer than you will need and mount the extra inch in a good chuck. I would also bring the tail stock up so you are, in effect, spindle turning until it is almost done. Then I would back the tail stock off to finish. Part it off.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4216 days

#12 posted 10-19-2011 09:20 PM

Thanks for all the advice, folks. I’ve got lots of ways to try it now (although I think I like Porchfish’s method best).

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View S4S's profile


2118 posts in 2679 days

#13 posted 10-20-2011 12:45 AM

That would be my approach….exactly , Porchfish .

your central Texas buddy moment

good luck Charlie

View sedcokid's profile


2732 posts in 3596 days

#14 posted 10-20-2011 02:34 AM

I think that Rance has the right approach…... At least that is how I would make it ;)
Oh, let us know what you decide to do…

CharlieM1958…Thanks for Asking

-- Chuck Emery, Michigan,

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3268 days

#15 posted 10-20-2011 02:40 AM

If all else fails, I recommend darning needles and duct tape.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

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