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Ideal Dimensions of a hand plane front knob

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Forum topic by MikeyBoyAz posted 01-26-2022 03:21 PM 1408 views 0 times favorited 43 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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MikeyBoyAz

14 posts in 278 days


01-26-2022 03:21 PM

Topic tags/keywords: lathe plane turning traditional cherry walnut purpleheart mesquite

Disclaimer: I am a handplane heretic. I don’t restore early 1910 Bailey pattern planes stylistically consistent with the antique bravado. /s

I have been plunged into the world of woodturning and as all of you who have experienced this, I have turned everything from pine scraps, off-cuts and even tree branches; because I can. I am not sure how much longer I will be captured by this insanity, but I hope it’s forever.

In my attempts to make every piece of wood in the neighborhood into a spindle or a bowl, I have turned numerous designs of front plane knobs. I have a 50L+ Sterilite full of ‘not quite perfect’ shapes made of exotic, domestic and local woods. So far, Mesquite from down the street is the most amazing grain pattern ever, and PurpleHeart is the smoothest.

So from my short and naïve experience I put together a list of what I hacked as my front knob, and I think it would be enlightening to see what others think.

My hand, btw, when extending the thumb to pinkie is 10” and my wrist to middle fingernail is 8 1/4” which I suppose is only relevant because people with smaller hands might find these dimensions unnecessary or uncomfortable.

1. For the knob diameter, I have mostly settled on 2”
2: For minimum diameter of the taper between the ball portion and the base, Any smaller than 3/4” seems to detract, although I don’t think smaller is much of a functional issue until it gets below 1/2”
3. For the base height, I have found anything taller than 3/8” looks too bulky
4. For the overall height, I have departed from the 2 5/8 standard, and I am up to 3 1/8. I find on my bedrock patterned planes (like a 4 1/2), the casting frequently digs into the meat of my thumb and the extra 1/2” of height helps keep my meat-hooks clear.
4a. For the hardware; as the classic threaded rod is not long enough, I have taken a page from Lie-Nielsen and use a 3” 1/4-20 flat head countersunk brass screw from the local ‘home center’ and have never looked back.

I hope this is an interesting thread for hand-toolery.

-Mikey


43 replies so far

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MikeyBoyAz

14 posts in 278 days


#1 posted 01-26-2022 04:16 PM

Pics of the knobs, as I realized I didn’t attach them!

Tigerwood

Mesquite

Another view of Mesquite with the Purpleheart in the background

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BlasterStumps

2397 posts in 1899 days


#2 posted 01-26-2022 04:17 PM

have you noticed the similarity in design for front knobs to trailer hitch balls?

-- "I build for function first, looks second. Most times I never get around to looks." MIke in CO

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bandit571

31892 posts in 4143 days


#3 posted 01-26-2022 04:19 PM

Actually, which ever style/size fit YOUR hand best. And, HOW you grip the knob, too….

For a long time..Rosewood was the preferred wood for plane handles….

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

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MikeyBoyAz

14 posts in 278 days


#4 posted 01-26-2022 04:21 PM



have you noticed the similarity in design for front knobs to trailer hitch balls?

- BlasterStumps

Mind Blown. [insert imagined gif here]

Also, I have my next silly project: decorative wood 2” hitch trailer ball.

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SMP

5313 posts in 1365 days


#5 posted 01-26-2022 05:03 PM



have you noticed the similarity in design for front knobs to trailer hitch balls?

- BlasterStumps

I’m gonna mount a hitch ball to one, maybe the extra weight will help. Hitch it up to a remote control truck and I can remotely plane surfaces while watching tv.

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MikeyBoyAz

14 posts in 278 days


#6 posted 01-26-2022 06:34 PM



Actually, which ever style/size fit YOUR hand best. And, HOW you grip the knob, too….

For a long time..Rosewood was the preferred wood for plane handles….

- bandit571

This is essentially where I was coming from. What I have found to be comfortable. The only deviation from norm that I guess I was addressing was the extended height. None of the other hand-toolery I know have delved into this customization, and figured it would possibly spark some thought.

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therealSteveN

9992 posts in 2033 days


#7 posted 01-26-2022 07:42 PM

have you noticed the similarity in design for front knobs to trailer hitch balls?

- BlasterStumps

I’m gonna mount a hitch ball to one, maybe the extra weight will help. Hitch it up to a remote control truck and I can remotely plane surfaces while watching tv.

- SMP

Don’t forget to put a motor on that will fetch you a beer while you watch the tube. Don’t wanna be missing any content doing tasks. Remember pouring a glass of wine, requires more functions, beer is a good choice here.

-- Think safe, be safe

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OSU55

3038 posts in 3449 days


#8 posted 01-27-2022 02:30 AM


Actually, which ever style/size fit YOUR hand best. And, HOW you grip the knob, too….

For a long time..Rosewood was the preferred wood for plane handles….

- bandit571

Most pertinent response so far. Its what the user likes, period. Keep the old ones in case you sell the planes. All of my 15 or so bench planes, Stanley, Fulton, and new LV planes, have custom knobs and totes made to my design by me. The tote designs are available in my blog – marked up drawings from LV.

For knobs I made prototypes based on some of the handplanes I had at the time and pics of various designs. My choice for most all the planes is a taller mushroom profile, because I use the knob to push down and pull up, and steer. The tote provides motive force, not the knob. I have larger hands and the taller profile gives more room. Dont have measurements of them, but you can see a couple of them here in my blog that has the tote dwgs. All of mine are made with walnut, most are claro walnut, but any decent hardness hardwood, including soft maple, with tight grain will work. Dont recommend open grain like oak or ash – hard on the palms.

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bigblockyeti

8530 posts in 3180 days


#9 posted 01-27-2022 03:09 AM

My hand is only slightly bigger, I too like a 2” ball, for heavier work 2 5/16” works a bit better.

-- “I never in my life thought I would have to say this, but the proper role of government is not to fund the distribution of crack pipes,” Lauren Boebert

View MikeyBoyAz's profile

MikeyBoyAz

14 posts in 278 days


#10 posted 01-27-2022 04:03 PM

Most pertinent response so far. Its what the user likes, period. Keep the old ones in case you sell the planes. All of my 15 or so bench planes, Stanley, Fulton, and new LV planes, have custom knobs and totes made to my design by me. The tote designs are available in my blog – marked up drawings from LV.

For knobs I made prototypes based on some of the handplanes I had at the time and pics of various designs. My choice for most all the planes is a taller mushroom profile, because I use the knob to push down and pull up, and steer. The tote provides motive force, not the knob. I have larger hands and the taller profile gives more room. Dont have measurements of them, but you can see a couple of them here in my blog that has the tote dwgs. All of mine are made with walnut, most are claro walnut, but any decent hardness hardwood, including soft maple, with tight grain will work. Dont recommend open grain like oak or ash – hard on the palms.

- OSU55

I love it. My next profile will most definitely incorporate a stronger mushroom top for my 4 1/2 and 5 1/2 sizes.


My hand is only slightly bigger, I too like a 2” ball, for heavier work 2 5/16” works a bit better.

- bigblockyeti

I love this too. Frankly I am even more excited for my next run of front knobs, and excuses to turn more shavings.

Mikey-

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Phil32

1752 posts in 1363 days


#11 posted 01-27-2022 04:50 PM

Probably the hardest thing on the hands is the unchanging shape of tool handles and knobs. What we really need is a knob that can adapt to our grip – expanding or contracting as needed, or even taking on a random, lumpy shape.

-- You know, this site doesn't require woodworking skills, but you should know how to write.

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HapHazzard

266 posts in 2327 days


#12 posted 01-30-2022 11:57 PM

I’m restoring a couple of planes and I’m making the knobs out of figured black walnut. I’m making them bigger than the originals to fit my big, faat hands. i’m also making the totes bigger—as big as i can make them and still fit under the cam levers, so I can get my fat fingers around them.

-- Unix programmers never die; they just > /dev/null

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Sylvain

1675 posts in 3959 days


#13 posted 01-31-2022 11:58 AM

Why a knob?
German wooden planes have a kind of horn.

-- Sylvain, Brussels, Belgium, Europe - The more I learn, the more there is to learn (and that is nice)

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HapHazzard

266 posts in 2327 days


#14 posted 01-31-2022 05:26 PM



Why a knob?
German wooden planes have a kind of horn.

- Sylvain


I imagine that comes in handy if you run into traffic while you’re planing. Beep-beep!

-- Unix programmers never die; they just > /dev/null

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Sylvain

1675 posts in 3959 days


#15 posted 01-31-2022 05:44 PM

funny.

I was referring to this

-- Sylvain, Brussels, Belgium, Europe - The more I learn, the more there is to learn (and that is nice)

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