Help mounting buttons on lathe

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Forum topic by JADobson posted 12-10-2013 09:29 PM 1087 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1033 posts in 2105 days

12-10-2013 09:29 PM

Topic tags/keywords: button turning lathe

Alright, so I promised my wife that I would make some buttons on my lathe for a poncho she is crocheting for her sister for Christmas. First I’ll tell you what I tried to do and then hopefully someone can give me some advice on how to do it better.
So I bought two 3/4” x 3/4” x 6” ebony pen blanks from my local Lee Valley. I epoxied them together and then cut them into a 1 1/2” square. I then cut that square in half so I had two 1 1/2” squares that were 3/8” of an inch thick. Next I took a 2×4 and cut it so I had a square piece of wood. I marked the centre on one side and glued my button blank on the centre and then marked the centre on the other side of the 2×4 and screwed it to my faceplate. Turns out my centres didn’t line up perfectly so now the button is going to be a lot smaller than originally planned. I need it to stay just as large as I can. Ideally, I would turn it so it is just round and then stop.
Any ideas for mounting this so I can maximize the blank? I do not have a chuck so if you can limit ideas so things I can do with a faceplate or a spur that would be great. Thanks for any help.

-- No craft is very far from the line beyond which is magic. -- Lord Dunsany

5 replies so far

View shampeon's profile


1775 posts in 2177 days

#1 posted 12-10-2013 09:54 PM

Take your 2×4 square and put it on the faceplate on the lathe. Mark the center with a red, fine Sharpie pen while it’s spinning. Drill a hole just smaller than the size of a small nail in the center. Put the nail in the hole and trim it close. Now you have a center reference.

For each ebony blank, use a center finder or draw cross lines from the corners to find the center. Drill a small hole there for the end of the nail to fit into. Now the blank will be centered when you glue it on.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View HerbC's profile


1754 posts in 2853 days

#2 posted 12-10-2013 10:08 PM


You might want to take a look at Diggerjack’s solution for making buttons which shows how he makes them. There’s also a blog he wrote to give more details.

Good luck.

Be careful!


-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

View Wildwood's profile


2305 posts in 2129 days

#3 posted 12-10-2013 10:11 PM

Same procedure different twist on same idea!

Would center a finishing nail or small wood screw in 2×4 so just a small tip sticks out. Next would mark center and place small dimple in ebony blanks with an awl. Idea here is want ebony blanks centered on 2×4 and sitting flat. Next glue on blank and turn.

I would want enough 2×4’s or waste blocks so could mount and glue them, before mounting and turning using procedure above.

-- Bill

View REO's profile


928 posts in 2068 days

#4 posted 12-11-2013 12:49 AM

mount your waste block on the lathe and find the center as has been mentioned but also make a circle that will give you a reference for when you blank is mounted. laminate your button material alternating with a layer of waste material between each and glue this to the center of you 2x waste block. mount in the lathe and turn the first button. part it off the waste material between that and the next button blank. turn your next button etc.

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1033 posts in 2105 days

#5 posted 12-17-2013 04:33 PM

Just wanted to say thanks to everyone, the screw through the centre trick worked really well. I should have a project up soon showing the finished buttons.

-- No craft is very far from the line beyond which is magic. -- Lord Dunsany

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