How To Achieve Knurling On A Flat Surface

Knurling is a popular way to finish handles of tools and other hardware, with a pattern of crossed lines rolled into metal to provide better grip and an attractive finish. It’s most commonly done on a lathe to round stock, but it can also be achieved on flat surfaces if you have the right tool. Of course, you can make one yourself.

The build is simple, and is based around by creating a special carrier out of a solid piece of steel. It’s a long bar has a space milled out to hold two wheels in the middle. A pair of off-the-shelf knurling wheels are then installed in the bar, with socket head bolts serving as axles.

With the tooling complete, it’s then a simple matter of installing the carrier bar in a lathe and running it back and forth over a flat workpiece. The workpiece is rolled back and forth to allow the wheels to do their work, while also being shifted horizontally to allow the entire flat surface to be worked over.

A nice knurled finish really can elevate the form and function of any tool or other piece of metal craftsmanship. We’ve explored how to create your own knurled knobs before, too.

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Replacing Knurled Thumb Screws


[Pete] bought himself an old South Bend lathe, but unfortunately some of the thumb screws were missing from this fine old machine. Originally, the lathe had knurled thumbscrews, and with a thumbscrew from Ace hardware the lathe itself was functional, but by no means looking its best. With a lathe you can make just about anything, so [Pete] decided he would make his own knurled thumbscrews and bring this lathe back to life.

Knurling is a diamond or linear pattern of indentations usually found on fancy metal knobs, flashlights, and other equipment that needs a good grip. While there are knurling tools for lathes, [Pete] decided to use his knurlmaster – a handheld device that looks like a pipe cutter – to cut a few knurls into a steel bar.

As for making this knurled bar into a proper thumbscrew, [Pete] shows us two methods: the first is tapping the knurled steel, putting in the right screw for the job, and securing the parts with Loctite. The second method involves cutting the threads on the lathe, an excellent example of how a lathe can make just about anything, even parts for itself.