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Making Wood Control Knobs?


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I've never had any success in making wooden knobs as I don't have the right gear so I can't speak from experience, only from common sense which in my case tends to lean towards over-engineering. :D

I imagine that as Wez suggests, fitting a metal tube would be the best step for a good secure fit. If you could find metal tube of a significant gauge which has walls thick enough to take a good tap for inserting a grub screw (2mm-3mm?) then you have your securing sorted also.

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That's a grub screw alright. You just need enough thread inside the (knob) material you're mounting it in to provide more force than the point of the screw bears against the shaft, otherwise the grub will thread inside the knob before the knob is secured. I think most woods are too weak at such small thread gauges to support grub screws, hence why my thoughts go straight to overengineering by adding aluminium or brass into the equation somewhere ;-)

Edited by Prostheta
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You could use a threaded brass insert which has a bore slightly larger than the pot's shaft, although i'm only seen them to M6 in the places i've looked. Wez is on the ball for the simple solution, whereas i'm on my usual sledgehammer to crack a nut path ;-)

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i think i wasnt very clear the first time around.... so far with any wooden knobs i have made i have not left a metal insert in the knob.

i drill the wooden knob to be a snug fit on the shaft, i then drill a small hole in the side for a grub screw. it works great apart from the few times i drilled the side hole too small and the knobs cracked open when inserting the grub screw

i start my knobs by drilling out the round shape with a hole saw - usually from an offcut of the body

then i drill the shaft hole and this is were the metal tube comes into play. I mount the knob onto a metal tube so that i can put it in a drill and turn the knob to its final shape using the drill. the tube also comes in handy for holding the knobs when finishing them

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You shouldn't have any problems with just drilling a corretly sized hole in the wood. Too tight, the wood will split, too loose and the knob won't stay on. Aim for a nice snug fit that you have to press on with some pressure. The same fit as a neck joint. Tight, but not so tight as to cause damage.

The set screw would help if you had a tendency to be rough with it. Normal use shouldn't be a problem.

I've made knobs out of ebony pen blanks, it wasn't a problem at all.

-John

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Yeah, wood all the way for the knobs, no insert. I've done it on only one guitar so far, but it's been played profesh for a couple years now and no problems. I don't have a lathe either, but I rigged up my drill press to make the knobs. Also, I drilled a 1/4" hole off center in the top which I inlayed a contrasting color wood 'dot' for position. Looks keen-o.

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