Polymer clay bead rollers seem a bit expensive to me. Plus they only make them in one size and a set of shapes. So I thought I could make a quick and simple one for cheap! First off I should make the disclaimer that "I made it at TechShop", so I had a lot of great tools at my disposal. One of the other members in the shop had some clay that he used for a project that had gotten plaster and dirt in it so he was going to throw it out, so I rescued it to make slingshot ammo out of. I'll be writing an instructable on making a slingshot soon!
The basic concept is you have a cylinder sawed in half lengthwise to give you two half cylinders. You put a measured amount of your medium (clay or polymer clay) into the center, rub the two halves together and you get a perfect sphere.
Now you can use these for making polymer clay beads for your jewelry project. You can use these to make perfect little spheres of fish bait, the English call these "Boilies". We in the States just call them dough bait balls. I also used this to make perfect ammo for my slingshot out of clay. It's biodegradable and non-toxic.
I should also mention that I have plans for other ways of making bead/ball rollers so I will be adding to this instructable in the future. One of the issues with this method is that it only does one ball at a time. I want to make a tray so that I can roll multiple balls/beads at once! And I'm working on ways to do just that.
1/2" PVC pipe, you only need a 2-3 foot length of this. This makes beads/balls about 15mm in diameter. You can experiment with other sizes.
Saw, I used a band saw with a thin blade
Sandpaper, I used a belt/disc sander
Clay or Polymer Clay
Kerf is a word I'm going to use, and many people may not be familiar with the concept. Basically it's the amount of material removed by the tool you are using to cut with. We could just cut our PVC pipe and use the two halves, but then we would end up with a more oval shape because the two halves wouldn't be perfectly semi-spherical. So the most important part of this project is that we want to adjust for the kerf. My solution is to cut just shy of center and throw one piece (the smaller piece) away.
Actually I cut just shy of the center line of the tube, and then sanded the good half down on the belt sander to get a somewhat perfect semi-sphere. This also gets rid of some of the bits and pieces that stick around after cutting.
Now the other important issue is that we want a straight cut. We don't want the tube to rotate at all while we are cutting it. So to alleviate this issue, I glued the pvc tube to a spare piece of wood. I used Gorilla glue because it foams up and makes more contact with the round PVC tube. I let this dry overnight and picked the project back up the next day.