When I was doing a bit of teaching in our local woodturning club, "knobs" o
f all types was one of the things I taught. I had my own method, and guys
that learned it turned gear shift knobs, fine furniture knobs, and decorati
ve knobs of all types.
Take your blank, orient it the way you want to get the cosmetic appearance
right. Take the end that will be the bottom and take it to your drill pres
s. Drill a hole deep enough to accommodate your screw inserts. For a gear
shift, I usually used two to three nuts of the correct thread size, depend
ing on how long the threaded section was on the shifter.
Take a hex head bolt that is the same thread size as your nuts/shifter, and
cut it off about an 1 1/2" above the threads. Using a machine oil like 3in
1, wipe the bolt threads down with a generous amount of oil with special at
tention on the end of the bolt. Put the nuts on the end of the bolt. (You
can also use a single piece of all thread connector if you can find the rig
ht size.) Epoxy your hole, and insert the oiled bolt (oiled to prevent epox
y adhesion) with the nuts on it into your wood block.
Allow to cure. I usually wait about 12 hours or overnight.
The next day, you now have something that looks like a popsicle.
I have a couple of these, and if you don't have a #2 Morse taper (for mid s
ized lathes, #3 for larger) with a chuck on it to hold small stuff you need
Put the bolt end in the chuck, and bring your tailstock up to stead the end
. Turn out your shape and do most of your sanding. If you will put the in
sert slightly below the finished end to be screwed on to the shifter, you c
an finish the profile, fine cuts and sanding and never expose the inserts.
When you are 99% through turning, turn off the lathe and back off the tails
tock. Since you turned the knob to the insert, it is now perfectly centere
d, perfectly concentric, and balanced. It will spin easily and true, and y
ou can cut off the mark left by the tailstock pin. Sand and finish, and yo
u are done.
I finish some things on the lathe using burned on finishes, and when doing
that I finish, then spin off the completed knob while the chuck is holding
the bolt. For larger things like gear shift knobs, I take them off the lat
he, loosen the bolt ( make sure there is no epoxy adhesion0, then leave the
bolt loosely in the knob. I use the bolt like a stem, and simply stick it
z(with the knob in it) in a hole drilled in a piece of scrap so I can spra
y finish on it.
Doing it this way means you do the entire process safely. No hand holding
of wood, no foam or rubber gizmos, no jigs to be made, no through holes or
any of that. The finished product looks 100% professional and after your i
nserts are set, you can turn out a finished knob in literally minutes.
It's easy, too.