Making A Shifter Knob From Old Skateboards

Do you have a car? Does that car have a manual transmission? Do you want to beautify your shifter knob, while simultaneously gaining mad street cred, yo? Well, you’re in luck, because all of that can be done for the low, low price of a couple old skateboard decks, a lathe, and a lot of glue.

This project, from [basiltab] illustrates how you can use old skateboard decks to create really cool looking custom shifter knobs. The process starts with cutting the decks up into uniform strips, which are then glued and clamped to form small planks. Sections of the decks were alternated, to create a visually interesting pattern. The planks are then sanded so that they’re smooth and flat, and then glued up in a jig to form blocks with a threaded aluminum insert in the center. Optionally, aluminum can be used for some of the layers to add a little flair (2-part epoxy was used in place of glue for the aluminum).

After the glue has dried, the blocks can then be turned on a lathe to create the desired shape of the knob. As you can see, the results are pretty darn nifty. And, they certainly have a little more artistic credibility than the giant acrylic shifter knobs you normally find at your local auto parts store. Don’t worry, if you thought this article was about shift registers, we’ve got you covered there too.

19 thoughts on “Making A Shifter Knob From Old Skateboards

    1. This looks like a neat project but it is worth mentioning that in the present form, the epoxy resin being used here contains Bisphenol A (also known as BPA). Now, epoxy resin is physically a very strong adhesive but has some potential health implications and it’s considered to be hormonal in how it impacts the human body, meaning doses as low as fractions of a µg/kg/day are relevant to human population models.

      While this is not a food application, it is probably best to avoid putting this material on something that you are going to be frequently operating with your hand for long periods of time while you drive around, shifting gears. It is also relevant to be aware of if you decide to fabricate these as many (but not all) skateboard decks themselves contain epoxy resins and thus BPA.

      One could always just do a clear urethane coating afterwards? That would probably help to physically protect these parts as well as make them glossier if you desired such a look.

    1. Ah, yes. My father used to tell me about “knuckle buster” knobs when he was a younger driver. Used to be classic hot rod accessory. Would love to try to make some of the cool things I’ve seen made from decks but have no idea where to start to find “used” ones, I live in the metro Detroit area and I sometimes get the impression that some materials like this get monopolized by certain production artists who make their whole “thing” about one recyclable material or another and take an attitude that if you want to try something even slightly similar, your stomping on their turf.

      1. I have them on the CAT loaders we operate at work, but when I was driving a truck, I asked if I could use one of those knobs, and was declined. Some trucking companies don’t like them.

        1. While they are legal in every state, OSHA has a rule though I’m not sure exactly what it means.

          Scroll down to 1926.602(c)(1)(iv)

          “Steering or spinner knobs shall not be attached to the steering wheel unless the steering mechanism is of a type that prevents road reactions from causing the steering handwheel to spin. The steering knob shall be mounted within the periphery of the wheel.”

          1. As a note the reason they don’t want these knobs attached to steering wheels is because if the vehicle gets out of control that wheel will spin like a mofo, with basically as medieval mace on the end of it. Suffice to say a flailing mace during a wreck is not a safety approved device.

  1. As a skateboarder of 35 years I’ll pass on a tip on how to go about sourcing the materials. Go hit up your local skateboard shop (not Zumiez) and ask if they got any broken boards or if they wouldn’t mind stashing a collection for you. Explain your intent and you’ll get a hook-up. The way the shops tend to work is someone will break a board, buy a new deck and set it up right there in the shop. Tossing the old one. An accomplished street skater will go through a few decks a month so there will be plenty to work with.

    Read this statistic recently:
    According to Chasing Green, over 100,000 decks are produced in the USA every month, with the vast majority made from Canadian maple wood. These trees take 40-60 years to mature to the point they are suitable for processing into skateboards, and at the current rate of deck manufacture the unsustainability of this practice is fairly self-evident. It is of little surprise to discover that the skateboard industry is the number one cause of deforestation of maple trees in the world, even outpacing the furniture industry.
    That’s a staggering number of boards made and note that it says in the USA, a lot of boards are made in China too.

  2. People with a shoulder injury should look into these steering knobs.
    I have never heard if a steering setup where the road doesn’t talk to the steering wheel. That would be the most boring drive on the road, like a video game.

      1. What not said, but it doesn’t have to be especially large, some tractors, backhoes, fork trucks etc have hydraulic only steering.
        On my 7t 3ciii jcb backhoe which is based on a leyland tractor skid, the steering is by hydraulics only, so you can sit in the cab with the engine off and the steering wheel does nothing except rotate endlessly. Start the engine and build hydraulic pressure and it works the ram on the axle that steers it and you have no fixed position the wheels will be in reference to to the steering wheel itself. Of course it also means if you loose hydraulic pressure you have no steering, but its still legal for the road I’d guess because its flat out at 30mph in top gear. A very terrifying underbraked almost out of control 30mph…
        The steering wheel is pre-drilled for a spinner knob out the factory.

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