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Turning drawer pulls


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I would like some input on metal turning for drawer handles. The type of drawer pull that I would like to create is pictured below.  IMG_0553.jpeg.c998cd6b295682fa0c90e34844ab7615.jpegIMG_0553.jpeg.c0e065b396d957af8f8c2531e7df3941.jpeg

These are full size handles from Horton Brasses. The plate could be etched and Dr. G at Dr.G’sBrasshole might do these for me, but the teardrop shaped handle would need to be turned and a thin wire could connect the 2.

I have a lathe and am moderately proficient with it, but have never turned brass. Do I need different tools or a different tool rest? Any specific chucking advice? Any and all suggestions would be appreciated.

Let’s see if any brass turning experts are on the Forum these days!


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Martha, I'm so glad that you are considering this, I'm guessing this is for the Wm & Mary Sideboard class from Guild School 2023? 

If we are talking about the tear drop. ...  I would use the lathe to turn the drop part, but the square part at the top of the teardrop requires a milling attachment.... or a really cool 5 axis jewelers saw and some good metal files.  I am suggesting Normal files from Nicholson not our fine swiss files that most of us are really fond of.  I have normal size files from Nicholson and I even have a smaller set of standard coarse files from Stanley and use these all the time.  

Buy a real one, or find a real one in an antique shop and ask to measure it.  Peter Acquisto indicated in one of his videos that he actually puts the item on a copier.

It is pretty easy to measure the teardrop with calipers, then draw it life size and reduce it on a copier, or do the math to reduce it to 1/12th scale.

I can't remember if you purchased the Sherline Lathe or Taig Lathe?

Brass will be fine, use 260 brass, and you can most likely source it at retail, hardware or big box store and 1/4" will be easily available.  You can cut the 1/4" brass to a shorter length with a hack saw or jewelry saw.   At 1/2 diameter I will use a hack saw.  

I'm guessing Duplicating can be done with a duplicator, even if it is brass?  but then you need to set up your template.  I've not been very successful using a duplicator in life size or miniature.  I do own a Vega Duplicator for my Jet mini lathe and not very impressed with its cutter.  I should probably grind my own profile and attempt to work out the kinks in that experience.

If you have a sherline, you can use the compound slide, but the angles do have to be measured and completed accurately to get xx of them to be similar.

You can always practice in wood.... I would recommend Cherry.  I practiced in Rosewood for the Needlework stand, and was optimistic, until I collected a sandwich bag of rejects.  It was an expensive use of a beautiful piece of rosewood, so I hope my admission of a "duh" moment helps you.






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In addition to our Swiss miniature and micro files, this is the "normal" size set that I purchased many years ago.... 2018?   Cut and paste into an ebay search.

Nicholson 22062NN 6 Pc 4" Premium File Set Bastard Taper Round Half Warding

This is the set of mini files that I purchased and I have a set in my toolbox and on my workbench... Search on Amazon...

Stanley 22-316 5-1/2-Inch Hobby File Set, 6-Pack

Both of these are handy for metal working.  If you don't have the right file that is coarse enough, you will be filing for a long time when working with metal.

P.S. for what it is worth, you don't want to use your metal files on wood... you don't want any metal from the last time you filed metal in your wood table legs when you go to finish.   If multiple sets of files are not an option, you will want to clean your files before using them on wood.  



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I considered doing that and then got too lazy.   But I have a couple suggestions for you.   I think the H-24 pull would be fairly easy to do, with the right tools.   

You could turn the pendant.   Skip the square portion (it's going to be super tiny) and just make a round bulb instead.  The whole pendant is only .167" long!   Regardless of what size you intend to end up with, your brass stock needs to be 1/8" diameter or it will tear off.    You might possibly get away with 3/32" but that's iffy.  If you have collets that would be better, but if not you can use your chuck.    You are going to have to get real close to the chuck to turn this - the further it sticks out the more it's going to flex.   

First thing to do is to drill the hole before you turn the pendant.    You will need a V-block or similar to hold the round stock and then drill it in your mill or drill press or equivalent.   Obviously centering the drill bit on the stock is critical.    You need to either use a center drill to get the hole started or file a small flat where the hole will be or else you will break your tiny bit (and since the stock is still full diameter and will be turned down, the flat will get turned off). 

After drilling the hole, put the stock back into the collet / chuck with the hole toward the tailstock end and turn the shape.    You can use jewelry gravers to turn this.   (EDIT:   If you have a nice sharp 1/8" tool bit for your carriage/cross slide you should "rough" the pendant portion to its largest diameter before hand turning with the graver).  Assuming you have the wood turning tool rest, you don't need any special tool rest.   Turn the head bulb, which should be closest to the tailstock, then never touch that section again.   Turn the "neck", then never touch that section again.  Finally turn the large drop portion.   Part it off, and then start again by drilling another hole. 

For the rosette, you could punch a disc out of thin brass using a disc cutter, and then drill a small hole in the center.   You can dome it using a dapping block.  Or you could ask Dr. G for a quote for custom rosettes. 

I would use a short piece of very thin wire (34 gauge?), thread it through the pendant, bend it in half, then pass both ends of the wire through the hole in the rosette (and presumably a hole in the drawer).    Trim the wire ends a little and fold both ends out. 


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Why not use square brass stock?  Wouldn't it be easier to drill, and then mount it in a 4 jaw chuck?

You can always machine the square stock to xx diameter that fits any collets you own. 


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  • 2 weeks later...

Oops, use 360 brass alloy, not 260... sorry for the typo.

K&S is a common model brass supplier in our hobby world and I've purchased and machined it.  I have also purchase Hillman 360 brass at Lowe's and Menards; never found it at Home Depot, but haven't needed to look.  Currently using Hillman brass in the lathe right now, they are labeled 360 brass.


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