Making Walnut Radio Knobs - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 5 Old 04-24-2009, 01:04 PM Thread Starter
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Making Walnut Radio Knobs

I restore vintage radios (1925-1940) both electronically and wood cabinet wise. During the l930's, Zenith manufactured their knobs commonly from walnut and they are very difficult to find and rather pricey. I have set up the necessary jigs to make these knobs using a combination of my lathe and router but I have a problem with the front of the knob. It is slightly curved and has a "relieved" capital letter "Z" which is referred to as a "lightening Z" by collectors in that the lines of the letter are not straight but "zig-zagged". A close examination of these original knobs indicates that the "Z" is part of the knob wood rather than being an applique.
I have considered making a metal template and trying "sand blasting" or possibly a laser. Please let me have your thoughts on this as I would like to go into production and make 100 knobs or so. Tom.
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post #2 of 5 Old 04-24-2009, 02:02 PM
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Cheaper and probably faster to hand chisel them with a template.

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post #3 of 5 Old 04-24-2009, 09:26 PM
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Lazar engraving will work extremely well and is affordable. It leaves a burned emblem however. Sandblasting will work great if the wood is very even grained. Otherwise it leaves a lump where the winter grain is harder than the summer grain. Stamping would work if you have a stamp made. It will dent the wood down and not leave it burned or lumpy.
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post #4 of 5 Old 04-25-2009, 04:54 PM Thread Starter
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Having a "stamp" made?

Thanks for your reply. I have since further examined the original Zenith knobs and I believe they used a stamping process or a "pressing" operation. Do you have any idea where I could get a steel stamp fabricated?
Since the area surrounding the Z on the knob front is releived about 70 mils this leads me to belive that a laser would render this area "burnt" and not very attractive post finishing.
Sandblasting would require a "template" and the "Z" would require support from the perimeter since it is a raised letter. I have reservations about this type of operation but it is attractive in its simplicity. What are your thoughts on this John?

Last edited by eeprof; 04-25-2009 at 04:58 PM.
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post #5 of 5 Old 04-25-2009, 08:37 PM
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Maybe I misread your first post. You say the Z is raised? That's tougher. You might need to find someone with one of those new Craftsman carving machines. It would probably carve out a bunch in a few minutes but I don't have any idea about the quality of the finish. I do raised letter hand mirrors but I carve away most of it with a router and then do the final carving by hand. Takes a while to do but if you only needed a few it wouldn't be that bacd.
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