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making cabinet knobs

updated sun 31 mar 96


Vince Pitelka on tue 26 mar 96

What with being out of town for the last two weeks it has taken me a while to
respond to this thread. I missed some of the earlier responses, so I hope my
information is not redundant. In my studio business in northern California I
made cabinet knobs for a number of cabinet-makers and homeowners, and came up
with a good system.

When throwing cabinet knobs off the hump, get/make a set of pointed rods
corresponding to the desired size for the attaching hole through center of the
knob. For various sizes I used brass welding rod, wooden dowels, and bamboo
skewers. Raise up a small lump on top of the clay hump, and poke the pointed
end of the rod vertically down through this lump. With a little care you can
do it exactly on center. Proceed with forming the desired knob with the rod in
place. When the knob is done, cut off the spinning knob with your needle-tool
until the needle touches the center rod, and pick up the knob by the upper end
of the rod. Depending on the clay used, you may be able to push the knob off
the rod right away onto a waiting ware board. If it distorts or the center
hole closes, stand the pointed end of the rod in a board with holes drilled in
it, and push the knob off the rod after it sets up a bit. Buy a cheap
countersink from a hardware store, and when the knobs are leather hard spin the
counter sink a little in the outer end of the hole, so that a flat-head brass
screw will fit flush. This system makes really wonderful knobs FAST.

If you don't want a screw head showing on the outside, when the knobs get
leather hard seal the outside end of the hole with a bit of clay. Purchase
machine screws of the appropriate size and length, cut off the head with a
beefy pair of diagonal cutters, and epoxy the cut end into the hole at the base
of the knob, making sure that enough screw protrudes to penetrate the thickness
of the cabinet doors and a fastening nut and washer.

When making the rods to create the holes in the knobs, remember to consider
shrinkage. Most cabinet knobs are attached with a 10-24 screw thread, which
takes a 3/16" hole. Smaller knobs might take an 8-32 screw, and really large
ones might take a 1/4-20 screw. If you cannot get rods of exactly the right
diameter, you might have to ream the leather-hard hole out with an
appropriately oversized drill-bit.

Vince Pitelka -
Appalachian Center for Crafts - Tennessee Technological University
Smithville, TN