Frequently Asked Questions About Custom Wood Shift Knobs

Will these knobs fit my car?

These knobs are different than most aftermarket knobs because a custom fit mounting is made for each knob.  This involves careful measurements and use of correct threading, close tolerance set screws, or both.  Many of these knobs were made to fit all BMW and new Mini shift levers that accept a push-on knob.
 This covers most manual transmission models from the mid 1980s  through 2004.  With proper measurements, a mounting can be made for most other makes.  Please refer to the section on shift lever measurements.
The BMW manual shift lever is 14mm in diameter, 59mm tall, and these knobs will fit any lever of the same dimensions.  For other makes, please measure the diameter and length of your shift lever for a custom fit.

How big are they?  
A stock BMW knob is 88mm tall with an oval top 46 x 55mm.  The dimensions for each knob are listed next to the picture.  A shorter knob gives the feel of a short shifter with reduced shift motion.  There are longer ones that give greater leverage and less effort, as well moving the knob top closer to your right hand on the wheel.  The tallest ones permit a full-hand grip not possible with short knobs.
The average hand seem most comfortable with a knob 45-49 mm in diameter.  Bigger than that would be good for larger hands.

Does the shape matter?
My experience with different knob shapes suggests that the "lightbulb" shape, with a concave area below the equator of the hemispherical top gives the best ergonomics for the hand.  I have a few "anatomical" knobs, with a pronounced rounded ridge on the front for the fingertips to get a better grip.  There are a couple of tall versions of this, which allow for a full hand pistol grip, as well as the positional advantage of a tall knob, making it a shorter reach from the steering wheel.  These knobs require a lot of hand-shaping, while the round ones are turned on the lathe.
I gave some of the knobs a "skirt", along the lines of some metal aftermarket knobs.  This feature extends the knob material over the top portion of the boot, completely covering this area.

How are these knobs secured?
The knobs shown here have a brass insert bonded with epoxy to the base of the knob.  The knob has a slip fit onto the shift lever, and is fastened with a 10/32"  stainless steel set screw, using a small hex wrench.  No additional mounting devices are needed.  The stock BMW knob has a plastic collet that engages a groove machined into the base of the shift lever, and a molded tab that fits an anti-rotation groove at the top of the lever.  The set screw in my knobs provides retention and anti-rotation.  The brass insert is set flush with the base of most of the knobs, but some have some brass protruding as a polished smooth collar or hex.
For shift levers with threads, I can provide internal threading.  The wood itself can be tapped, which will provide excellent retention, while the set screw prevents unscrewing and helps center the pattern.  The brass insert provides threading for the set screw.

Knob cross-section

What are they made from?
Various hardwoods are used, and the knobs are listed by wood type.
    Bubinga is a tropical hardwood that is reddish in color with an interesting and irridescent grain.
    Cocobolo is a dense, heavy hardwood with a black and reddish-brown striped grain used for knife handles and gunstocks.  It has natural oils that allow the     wood to be polished without a surface coating.  It is naturally water-resistant, and too dense to float in water.
    Teak is an exotic hardwood widely used in shipbuilding.  It gives some of these knobs a nautical feel, like a ship's wheel.
    Walnut is an attractive hardwood widely used in furniture making, as well as decorative veneers in car door and dash accents
    Ancient Kauri is prehistoric preserved wood that comes from peat bogs in New Zealand.  While nearly extinct today, these trees were abundant 50,000       years  ago, which is the age of the carbon dating on this material.  This was the age of Neanderthal in Europe, and woolly mammoths, long before any                 
recorded history.  As a conversation piece, this oldest workable wood on earth is hard to beat.  The wood has a shimmering opalescence and a beautiful             grain.
    Ebony is the blackest wood available.  These knobs have a subtle grain, and give an almost stock appearance.
    Birch is not exotic, but I have made a couple of knobs from birch that look just like little baseball bats.
    Bird's-eye Maple
has characteristic circular marks in lighter colored hardwood than most of these knobs, and may be a refreshing change in an all-black interior.
    Cherry has a warm rosey glow, and is a popular wood used in interior decorating.
Some knobs are laminated from woods of contrasting color for a striped appearance.

What about the finish?
Most of the knobs are finished with several layers of hand rubbed and polished marine spar polyurethane varnish, a tough and attractive coating.  Some knobs are polished dry, using their natural oils.  The knobs only require an occasional wipe with any mild, non-abrasive cleaner.  Wood is a natural material, and as such has minute flaws that are non-structural and add to the character of the grain.

What about the shift pattern?
On most of these knobs, I have inserted a 5 speed pattern disc, typical of the 5-speed manual gearboxes in many BMWs.   Some of the discs are a tight press-fit, or inserted in a precision-cut recess, giving the look and feel of a precision inlay. There is a hole behind the disc that allows the disc to be popped out with a blunt stick. I have inserts for other 5 and 6 speed patterns.  Some have spun stainless steel discs inserted.
 Some custom knobs are available as solid wood, with no pattern.  Please remember that some states require a shift pattern visibile to the driver, or the car may fail inspection.  Either get a knob with a pattern, or keep your stock knob around for inspection.  Please contact me to discuss different inserts.

Can they be illuminated?
I have made illiminated knobs.  One is listed under "Bubinga", stained to match BMW "Nutwood" interior trim.  I installed an LED lamp under the shift pattern disc, and I can do the same with the other knobs listed.  The illuminated knob comes with wire leads that must be spliced into console wiring.  Please add $70 to add this feature.

Contact and ordering information

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