Wednesday 18 November 2015

How To Make Turn Buttons

This week I will show you how I made some turn buttons for my new table.

Whenever it comes to fix a table top to a table frame, turn buttons are my choice.
Let me show you how I usually make mine.

It all starts with a piece of wood from my scrap box, or if I can't find a fitting piece I've got some stock for such purposes.

Stock from the scrap box

The piece was long enough to get 4 turn buttons out of it. I only need three, so I will have one as spare part.

Define a length

The stock had already one end square so I could start from that end. I came in about 8 cm and made a pencil mark.

V groove for sawing

I made a knife line and a little groove for registering my saw.

Cutting to length

And then I tried to cut down as square as possible. I use such tasks all the time as a training opportunity. Making turn buttons is not exact science. No need to be pretty precise. As mentioned, use it as a training opportunity.

Slightly off

I'm slightly off. I will shoot it anyway. Just to see how good or bad I am.

Make marks from both ends

Now then. That piece cut and shot, I came in 3 cm from each end.

The basic layout 

Next step was to draw a line all around the piece at both marks. I'm slightly off again. That's because of the new magic pencils. I have to adjust them better ;-)

Scribe a line....

Now make a scribe line between the two pencil marks. The distance depends on the thickness of your stock. In my case the material thickness is 3 cm and I wanted to have 8 mm thick tongues. So I came in 2 cm.

....and a second one 

Flip the piece around and do the same thing from the other side.

Make a knife line around 

When you have done your scribe lines start to make a marking line around the piece. Starting from the lower scribe line and ending there on the other side of the piece.
Do this action from the opposite side again.

You have to mark it from both opposite faces

You will end with something like this.

Saw down from every face

Now saw down to the lower scribe line. Once from each face side.

Position it on an edge

Done!? It should look like in the picture above. If it looks like that, then position your piece on the edge of your bench hook for example.

Don't hesitate :-) 

And now, give it an encouraged whack with your hammer. You will see that it will split apart.

Freshly splitted

It will come out somehow like this.

Split the rest away

Split the rest of the material away with a chisel.

Turn button blanks

Nearly done. This are the turn button blanks.

Make a cross like this and mark the middle with an awl

Make a cross like you can see in the picture and pre drill a small hole with an awl.

Grabb you hand drill

Grabb a drill and bore a hole. An important point. This hole has to be big enough so that your screw won't bite into it. They shall just slide through it.

Countersink the hole

Countersink the hole.

Test fit

And here we are. The new turn buttons.


One last thing. Remove the marks. I've done two strokes with a #4.

They are pretty easy to make and provide a nice possibility to mount a table top.

Hope you like that write up. Let me know what you think about it.


  1. Nifty, never seen done that way. The hammer wack sound like a fun thing to do :-)

    Bob and Rudy, having family visit this week

  2. Perfect! I'll be making some today to mount a japanese screen onto the wall. I coundn't find anything which would do the screen justice. I'll ebonise mine to go with the lacquer. Thank you