Introduction: Unique Homemade Volume/potentiometer Knobs

Picture of Unique Homemade Volume/potentiometer Knobs

For all those FX pedal, cool looking synths and other wacky machines that require control with any kind of potentiometer! This isn't an exhaustive list of solutions, don't hesitate to use your imagination and post pics of your own creations! I got sick of trying to find potentiometer knobs that looked good, I'll still buy some, but for those more wacky, funky and cool knobs here are a few ideas!

Step 1: Materials & Tools

Picture of Materials & Tools

You'll need the following:

Tools (Tools needed will vary according to the technique you decide to use) :
- Cutter / knife / scalpel / blade (watch out it's sharp!)
- A tile (any shape size and color)
- Screw driver
- a potentiometer (preferably the type you will use the knob on) mine is a 16mm split shaft
- Marker pen
- Needle file

Materials (again, they'll vary) :
- Polymer Clay (FIMO in my case)
- Glue / silicone / electrical tape
- Tube lids, caps and things of the sort

Again, don't worry if you are lacking some of these tools or materials.

Step 2: First Technique : Polymer Clay

Picture of First Technique : Polymer Clay

So you need to take your polymer clay, any color you want, get it nice and soft.
Shape it approximately to the shape you want it to be in the end.
Push your screw driver into the bottom of your future knob, this should leave a small hole. Don't have it sticking out the other side!
Now fit your polymer clay knob on to the potentiometer you will be using, continue to shape it from here.
Gently take it off the potentiometer without squashing it or changing the shape of it.
Place on your tile ready for cooking.
Put in the oven for the time it take for your type of polymer clay to harden. (should be written on the packaging of your clay)
Once it is out, leave it cool down for a bit.
After a while, try fitting it on to your potentiometer. 
If it fits, great!
If not you can either file it inside with a needle file, or a add a layer of electrical tape on the shaft of your potentiometer to make it thicker.
If it doesn't hold and just turns on its own, you can glue it to the shaft of the potentiometer once this one is mounted, but I don't recommend that.
If you do, use some light weight glue that can be forced off later. 

You could potentially use SUGRU as a substitute for polymer clay, plus it doesn't need a trip in the oven.

Step 3: Second Technique : Random Lids / Caps

Picture of Second Technique : Random Lids / Caps

I used a couple of caps off a tube that held a (not so) fancy pen. Light plastic / metal they seem like a good choice for some big knobs. I filled them inside with some silicone seal for the seams in the bathroom. Once it is dry I'll dig out a hole of the appropriate size. 
With the marker pen I then drew a little line as an indicator for the pots position.

I also have my eye on some caps of lotion tubes, and the cap of a tube of toothpaste, caps of pens and other things. You can obviously paint these to your liking, just wait 'till the toothpaste tube is empty before taking the lid! 
Again, adapt the size of the hole or of the shaft of the potentiometer as in the previous step.

Step 4: Third Technique, More Recuperation.

Picture of Third Technique, More Recuperation.

For this technique, you'll manage better if you have a drill press.
Take any old or broken tool that has a round butt end to it. Or any end that you fancy for what it's worth.
These tools can be old unwanted or broken screw drivers, drum sticks and anything else. 
With your drill press you can then drill a straight hole of the right diameter without going all the way through. 
And once again, size of hole / potentiometer shaft can be adapted to fit properly. 
The bullet example won't need any drilling, just cutting the metal to the right lenght. 

Comments

electronut (author)2014-11-29

Great ideas - thank you!

playinmyblues (author)2013-01-06

These are some awesome ideas for knobs! Not only are you saving money but, (more importantly) you are reusing what is normally going into the landfill. Every little bit counts. While reading your Instructables.com I realized I can use all those milk carton and juice carton caps as knobs. I was thinking about using some of them to make a snake-like robot but, now Ihave.two uses for them.

playinmyblues (author)2013-01-06

These are some awesome ideas for knobs! Not only are you saving money but, (more importantly) you are reusing what is normally going into the landfill. Every little bit counts. While reading your Instructables.com I realized I can use all those milk carton and juice carton caps as knobs. I was thinking about using some of them to make a snake-like robot but, now Ihave.two uses for them.

playinmyblues (author)2013-01-06

These are some awesome ideas for knobs! Not only are you saving money but, (more importantly) you are reusing what is normally going into the landfill. Every little bit counts. While reading your Instructables.com I realized I can use all those milk carton and juice carton caps as knobs. I was thinking about using some of them to make a snake-like robot but, now Ihave.two uses for them.

pfred2 (author)2012-04-09

Could you please explain a bit better your technique for centering the knob shaft hole in the knob. I don't like knobs that spin crooked.

gavox (author)pfred22012-07-07

It's with the tape (or anyting that'll solidify) and with needle files that you basically have to adjust the knobs so that they don't spin crooked.

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Bio: I am a musician, I mainly play drums but I love to play many other instruments. I make various instruments, from alternative experimental instruments that ... More »
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