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DIY: Do It Yourself
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Old 08-16-2017, 11:03 PM   #1
YoungBuck4
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Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: Georgia
Posts: 7
My Ride: 1999 328i e46
DIY ZHP Woodgrain Knob

The ZHP knob is a very common upgrade in our cars. I love the feel of it and looks much better than the OEM knob. The only issue is that it only comes in black leather. I have a car with tan interior and woodgrain trim so a black leather knob would very out of place as I have seen in others pictures with the same interior as my car. So I decided to get crafty and create a ZHP knob that looked woodgrain. I used an old ZHP knob, DAP plastic wood filler, Varathane Kona and American Walnut wood stain, and Varathane Polyurethane Gloss spray coating.


First, I bought an old beat up knob off Ebay for $25.

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The knob was very beat up with the leather torn half way off and emblem pealing. This was good for me because it was cheap and whoever mistreated the knob had done half of the work for me. I tore off the rest of the leather and the emblem and sanded the knob a little to rough it up for prepping it for the plastic wood filler. Then I put tape around the silver base to protect this from any plastic wood or stain to come.

Second, I started to apply the plastic wood to the knob.

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I had to do this in layers. The first layer, I put a lot on it as a base coat. I put on a lot because I figured with sanding it down and sculpting ahead, I needed to have a good base layer so I don't go all the way to the knob. I let each layer dry for about an hour before going back to sand it. I know that it sounds fast for it to dry but I went back so quickly because the plastic wood would be dry enough to hold but not dry enough that it sets. That way, I could rub off with my hand the extra plastic wood and manipulate the shape so that there was less sanding to do with the sanding block. I found this to be more beneficial because then the shape is closer to what I want without having to sand so much. I did this with each layer until I was happy with the shape of the knob. The hardest part of sculpting this knob for me was the top. It was hard to sculpt the top of the knob to fit the shift pattern logo perfectly. I had to use the old emblem to help me sculpt it to the perfect dimensions of the shift pattern sticker so that the new sticker would fit tight as it looks originally. I had to be very careful lifting the emblem off so that I did not mess up the soft layer of plastic wood and not let the plastic wood dry too long where it hold onto the emblem.

Third, it was time to stain. I originally used the Kona stain but this looked WAY too dark compared to the other wood trim in the car.

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I sanded off most of it but left some because I felt accents of the darker stain made the knob look like it had real wood grain. So looking back, I was glad I accidentally picked the wrong stain color.

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I then went and got the American Walnut stain and went back to staining. Between each layer, I used 1000 grit sand paper to take off some of the stain before adding the next layer of stain.

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Fourth, it was time to add some protection to the stain. I used the Polyurethane spray to protect the stain; this not only protects the stain but also gives it the glossy look like the rest of the veneer trim. I put 5 layers of the clear polyurethane gloss coating. Between each layer, I used 2000 grit sandpaper to get the next layer of clear coat to stay.

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Overall, I think the knob came out great! There are some blemishes in it but that is just a little homemade character the knob has. I think this is my new favorite thing about my car and I LOVE how it looks and how it feels when shifting.

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The process takes place over a couple of days and anybody can do it with spare hours here and there. I am one proud owner of a custom “Wood Grain” ZHP knob!
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Old 08-17-2017, 05:58 PM   #2
YoitsTmac
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I love it but I think it'd be 10x better with the "M" cross in the middle. You should sell these! This is gorgeous!


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Old 08-17-2017, 11:34 PM   #3
YoungBuck4
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Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: Georgia
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My Ride: 1999 328i e46
Thank you very much. Took a lot of patients waiting between coats. I can always make them for anyone who wants one! Just need to source out more beat up ZHP Knobs. The original knob had an M logo on it, but since my car is not an M car I didn't want to have the logo on it. That is one of my pet peeves is when people have M logos on a non-M car.

Last edited by YoungBuck4; 08-17-2017 at 11:43 PM.
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Old 08-17-2017, 11:50 PM   #4
YoitsTmac
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Join Date: Apr 2015
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If I ever get my mother an E46 (possible soon), I will absolutely get one of these. You should advertise this in the classifieds - no joke. Say custom work. It's absolutely beautiful. If I wasn't planning on changing my wood trim, I'd grab one. I'm a professional photographer. If you plan on selling these, ship one to me and I can take good photos of it for you. Seriously, seriously beautiful.
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diy, shift knob, wood knob, woodgrain, zhp knob

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