Drill press table and much more! #4: Drill press turning (making a plane knob) Blog

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Blog entry by mafe posted 10-07-2010 11:51 AM 23094 reads 26 times favorited 24 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Hold down clamps (cheap version) blog Part 4 of Drill press table and much more! series Part 5: New deep stop for drill press. »

Drill press turning
Making a plane knob on the drill press challenge.

Last week I needed a knob for a fence I was making for my no. 3 and 4 planes, and was ready to go to the lathe.
- But decided to challenge myself by making it on the drill press, with the simplest means I could find (yes I’m a child).
I also took pictures as I went along so I could share it with those who don’t have a lathe.

This was how it turned out.

A piece of wood, if you don’t happen to have a piece of a old parasol foot that are already round as I did, then cut it at least to a octagon before using it.
Find the center, and drill a hole in both ends or all the way through.

Now drive a screw into the hole.
(In the back you see the fence where I needed this and that at this stage it was a little rustic for the design…).

Now cut the head of the screw.

Make also a hole in a piece of wood (any kind, but long enough to be fastened), and put a short nail through the hole.

Close up!

Mount the cut of screw in your drill press, and center the nail under, adjust the height, and fasten to the drill press table.

Grab a rasp and turn on your drill press – this is where the fun begins!
You need to move the rasp as you go, so it will not fill up.
(And as you can see of course I forgot to turn on my vac mount…).

Ok, I have these bad arms, so I fast discovered that it would be easier with a fence to hold the rasp against.
Two pieces of wood and a clamp, that’s it – we have a vertical lathe. So I even tried with the lathe chisels, but actually I found it more easy to use the rasp due to the position.
(But I must admit I had great fun).

Now we are getting there!
I just eye balled the shape of a plane knob, but you can use a caliper or just a compass if you want to be precise.
I choose to make a big base plate, since I was going to use it on a side fence and not a plane.
(On this picture it’s still fixed to the nail in the bottom).

Time for the files to get to a finer finish.

Different grids of sand paper, I choose to end a 360, and did not try to make it ‘perfect’.

Now remove the nail board so you can finish the top of the knob with the drill press spinning.

And here we are!

Cut of the extra (if you have any…).
(The little scrap piece of wood is to hold it horizontal while I cut).

Compare or not compare – that’s the question!

I drilled a little hole and mounted a vintage Swedish coin, just for the X-factor!
Gave it some Danish oil and then bee wax.

The coin!

And the result.
I’ll post the making of the fence later or tomorrow as a blog also.

I will say the try was a success, it worked easy and smooth, and there are no costs for additional gadgets.
So there is no excuse for not trying.
I know there are many versions made, but I tried to keep it as simple as possible.

If you don’t want a hole in the knob, you can use a countersink as ‘hold’ while turning; just give it a bang with a hammer.
But then you need to be careful not to use too much pressure while turning.

It will leave only a little mark.

I hope this can bring some old planes back to life or be used to make a fence for your plane,

best thoughts,


-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

24 comments so far

View mafe's profile


12609 posts in 3974 days

#1 posted 10-07-2010 12:10 PM

Geminiguy made a DIY chunk that can be used as well.

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View littlecope's profile


3109 posts in 4387 days

#2 posted 10-07-2010 12:27 PM

Nicely Done, my Friend!!
I’ve used the drill press to make small knobs, for boxes, but never for something as large as that… Nice to see it can be done!! Very Clever!!

-- Mike in Concord, NH---Unpleasant tasks are simply worthy challenges to improve skills.

View Schwieb's profile


1912 posts in 4347 days

#3 posted 10-07-2010 12:46 PM

Like my Dad always said, It’s what you do with the tools that you have that counts. Very clever Mads!!

-- Dr. Ken, Florida - Durch harte arbeit werden Träume wahr.

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3752 days

#4 posted 10-07-2010 01:24 PM

This was very creative and interesting, Mads. As always, you’re a very interesting guy and are always coming up with something new to try. I enjoyed the post. Thanks

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View docholladay's profile


1287 posts in 3944 days

#5 posted 10-07-2010 03:12 PM

The hard part doing it this way is that you have to lie down on your side to do it. It makes it more challenging that way. Just kidding. LOL. It does make me glad I have a 4 jaw chuck though. As always, Mads, very clever solution to a unique problem. I seriously think you should be in the tool and jig design business. You should be patenting some of your creations.

-- Hey, woodworking ain't brain surgery. Just do something and keep trying till you get it. Doc

View Jason's profile


660 posts in 4394 days

#6 posted 10-07-2010 07:10 PM

Another excellent blog Mads. You come up with very clever solutions.

-- Jason - Colorado Springs

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4000 days

#7 posted 10-07-2010 08:16 PM

Doc we don´t lie down sidewayes …we tilt the drillpress horisontel…. erh voilá a lathe…..LOL
want a bigger lathe ….buy a floormaunted drillpress :—))

great toturial as usual Mads :-)
beside all the things we normely use a drillpress for this is just one of the 150 things
a drillpress can be used for and thats why I think its the most importen electric power tool to buy
when we talk stationaire , from this you can always upgrade if needed

take care

View swirt's profile


5577 posts in 3857 days

#8 posted 10-07-2010 08:26 PM

Nice tutorial Mafe. Clever as always and it makes me glad to know that I am not the only one who feels drawn sometimes to take the less easy road just to be more of a challenge. Somehow though you end up with better results than I do ;)

-- Galootish log blog,

View chrisstef's profile


18112 posts in 3892 days

#9 posted 10-07-2010 09:33 PM

Just what i was looking for !! Not having a lathe led me to a few mismathced planes, totes and knobs not the same wood …. so happy to find the solution. Thanks Mafe very ingenious,

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View lanwater's profile


3113 posts in 3819 days

#10 posted 10-07-2010 10:36 PM

very resourcefull!

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

View Kindlingmaker's profile


2659 posts in 4412 days

#11 posted 10-08-2010 06:54 AM

Great blog!

-- Never board, always knotty, lots of growth rings

View mafe's profile


12609 posts in 3974 days

#12 posted 10-08-2010 10:35 AM

Mike, there were no problems, as soon as I had made the rest.
Dr. Ken, I have so many tools, so I guess it will keep my busy for a while… Smile.
helluvawreck, I’m a child!
docholladay, no the hard part was not to fall asleep when lie there… You made me laugh.
Jason, merci.
Dennis, it still cant make me that espresso!
swirt, may the child in us never die. (I feel also we have a likenes there).
chrisstef, jubiiii, then go for it, it’s why I made this blog, I’m always so happy when some one say they will do it.
Ian and Kindlingmaker, thank you.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View anon's profile


417 posts in 3782 days

#13 posted 10-08-2010 11:57 AM

very creative way to make such a beautiful knob!
you might seriously consider writing a book, you’ve almost got enough ideas for an encyclopaedia!!!
dont stop playing mads, the inner child is fantastic :)
keep it coming, i enjoy reading your blogs!

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4000 days

#14 posted 10-08-2010 06:03 PM

so you want an expresso-lathe hmmmm nothing that can´t be solved mirakels just take a little longer…LOL

take care

View PaBull's profile


967 posts in 4550 days

#15 posted 10-21-2010 08:39 PM

Thanks Mad, this makes me feel like running out of my office…. taking the rest of the day off… stopping for an espresso… let the business go to pots…. and working on my drill press to build a new tote or something like that.

-- rhykenologist and plant grower

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