This is one of my COVID-19 videos where I filmed ten full-length (rather long but still interesting) videos to encourage everyone to make with hand tools only. Really, it goes with the plane tote handle video I put up a couple of weeks ago as many people have no lathe, no turning tools, and no knowledge of how to turn on the lathe. But I also wanted to stretch things. If you can make this, you make all kinds of cabinet knobs and handles and this opens yet another machineless world of real woodworking for anyone and everyone.

There is no question that turning knobs is very fast when you have all the equipment and skill. The costs mount up quickly if you are not interested in turning, which I am not, but did do for three decades. Many of us like challenges though and taking a rectangular block to make the knob is very interesting. Turning a knob is not much of a challenge–carving one is!

You can watch the video on woodworkingmasterclasses here for free or on YouTube here.

For the plane tote, the rear handle, go here.


  1. Steve P on 10 August 2020 at 2:36 am

    That is quite impressive! I feel that if I tried it, mine would be all oval and oblong and look more like the end of Gandelf’s staff. Maybe I’ll give it a try for the challenge.

    • Vidar Fagerjord Harboe on 21 August 2020 at 8:50 am

      “the end of Gandelf’s staff”

      That sounds…. AWESOME! 😀

  2. steve on 10 August 2020 at 9:02 am

    Hello Paul,
    I noticed you used yew for the handles. We have a very old apple tree that has to be removed and I am thinking of drying some of it. Is it any good for tool handles ?

    • Andrew on 10 August 2020 at 5:05 pm

      As I recall Paul has said that most any hardwood will do for plane handles. You can even use some highly figured stuff that would be too weak for other applications.

      Besides, if it breaks you can always make another!

    • Jeff D on 10 August 2020 at 8:40 pm

      I know from making archery bows of wood that the fruit and nut trees are suitable for the flexion and compression of archery within the limits of the wood itself and design so there’s no reason a midweight hardwood like apple wouldn’t work from my perspective.

  3. François Pernod on 11 August 2020 at 4:15 am

    Apple tree used to be one the best wood for tool handles. But like all fruit woods it needs to be dryed carefully. I was given a few apple trunks from an orchard years ago, I cut them in 80cm long pieces, quartered them on the bandsaw and heavilly coated the ends with parafin. they haven’t split and are still drying in my shop.

  4. Canny Scot on 11 August 2020 at 2:17 pm

    Wonderful. Many thanks for sharing this Paul.

  5. Ermir on 12 August 2020 at 10:43 am

    This is yet another degree of freedom! I don’t need a plane knob today, but this allows me to modify turned legs, to make handles, to make round sections anywhere I like, practically. Awsome video!!

  6. Colin on 15 August 2020 at 6:01 pm

    I think I’ll have a go at this … at least to understand just how difficult it really is to get a decent result.
    But I can’t help wondering if there’s a middle ground way of turning a small item like this without a lathe. Perhaps with a drill/driver held in a clamp? Maybe just for the final stage after already getting (say) 90-95% off by hand? A ‘Poor Man’s Lathe’ if you like.Or maybe there’s a good reason not to try?
    Dunno…just wondering if it might be worth investigating.

    • Paul Sellers on 15 August 2020 at 11:25 pm

      Maybe you are overthinking the simplicity of it to make it complicated, Colin. In the process of doing it you just lose yourself in the challenge. That’s the amazing bit you might just be missing!

  7. Wood Ship Kits on 7 September 2020 at 11:44 am

    That’s really interesting post. I appreciate your skills. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Wooden Ship Kits - Ages Of Sail on 11 September 2020 at 8:02 am

    Yes I agree with you François Pernod. It seems you have have deep knowledge.

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