Shift Knob Reproduction

The Lotus Elan sported two different Shifter Knobs.  The S1,2, &3 had a reverse tear drop, or egg, version and the S4 had a round ball, both made from wood.  There may have been some later S3's with the round version and all Europas had the ball as well.  The emblem was usually a tiny Lotus logo or on later cars, the 4 speed shift pattern.  

Finding a 4 speed shift pattern emblem proved futile, but I did find someone who had 0.5" diameter tie tacks which was just about the right size on ebay.  So I bought 5 of them to test out.  I also found these pre made Maple wood balls and eggs on an online wood crafts supplier.  For the threaded part, I found these Brass inserts from the same wood craft store.  They thread into the wood with a .5" hole, but the Maple was so hard, that I had to open it up a bit to screw it in.  I tried two types of stains, one was a Gun Stock Walnut color that looked great on the sample chip, but once on the Maple ball, it looked way too dark.  I opted for a Golden Pecan stain, which again looked way to orange on the chip, but stained nicely on the Maple ball.  

  Holding the ball and trying to center it was the biggest challenge.  I had metal base from old vise that had a hole that I could seat the ball in, but trying to center it was very frustrating.   Went through a few balls before getting close enough.  With the ball centered, I drilled a 1/8" pilot hole through the entire ball.  Then using a 1/2" Fostner Bit I drilled the hole 1/4" deeper than the length of the threaded insert.  On the opposite side I drilled a 1/8" pocket using the same bit for the emblem.  

The brand name of the threaded inserts I used are called EZ-LOK and had a tool available to screw the insert into the wood.  This is a very handy tool and necessary if you want half a chance of getting these things seated straight and tight.  With the insert seated, I used a pair of throw away Japanese restaurant chop sticks and screwed it into the threads as a handle to stain the ball.  I first used stain prep, which opens the grain and prepares the wood for staining.  With the chop sticks, I just dipped the entire ball into the tin of stain and stood it up using a lump of clay.  I had to do this several times to get the color I wanted.  Once the color was achieved and stain dried, I glued in the emblem logo into the pocket on top.  I dipped the ball into the tin of Acrylic polyurethane and let dry.  I wanted a deep glossy shine, so I did this about 8 times, adding layers as I went along. 

  Overall, I made 5 knobs, two eggs and three balls.  The hue was a nice golden pecan and the grain showed nicely.  The only thing I would change in the process would be the Acrylic Polyurethane clear coat.  The stuff is water soluble and I guess environmentally more friendly, but while drying clear, it has a milky white appearance and it does not build up as fast, nor gives the appearance of lacquer or the old marine varnish. Once I go through these knobs, I may try that the next time lol