Wood Ball Without a Lathe

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Introduction: Wood Ball Without a Lathe

About: i love making jewelry and whatever other craft and also i have a passion for woodworking and small wood projects. powertool carving and the sort.

I wanted to make a wood ball, but I didn't have a lathe or a fancy router jig. I decided I would carve one then sand it a lot to get the final shape. This is my first instructable so bear with me.

I know this wont be perfect but it doesn't require any fancy tools either.

Step 1: Materials and Tools

you will need.

-Some type of wood. I am using a honey locust branch.

-Bowsaw.

-Knife.

-Sandpaper. (Up to 1500 grit gives it a nice shine even without finish)

-Some type of oil to finish it with, if you want it finished.

-Optional heat gun for finishing.

Step 2: Beginning Carving

On a scrap piece of wood make a cut into the wood, then carve a curve on one side of the cut. Cut the groove deeper, then recarve your curve.

This was just a test I did before I started so I wouldn't mess up on my ball. My dad had me go buy a Bowsaw for trimming, and I wanted to try it out in a project. So I decided to make a ball.

Step 3: Starting the Ball

To begin carving the ball draw guide lines on the branch the same distance apart as the branch itself. Then saw these guide lines down a little bit all the way around the branch. Start carving the curve of the ball on the insides of the lines. I just eyeballed it.

Step 4: Keep Carving

Continue sawing and carving until you have it mostly round. Saw one side off and then start sanding that end while you still have a handle.

Step 5: Releasing the Ball

After some sanding with a low grit. Around 80 or 100. Release the ball using the saw. After that, start sanding.

Step 6: Sanding, Sanding, Sanding.

The most important sanding in this process is the low grits, to actually get the desired round shape. After this just progress through the grits. I finished sanding with 1500 grit.

Step 7: Finishing.

Oil or some kind of finish will bring out the grain and give it a shine. I just used coconut oil because I absolutely love the smell.

(this is optional) I use my heat gun to heat up the wood and expand the pores in it. I then melt the coconut oil and let it seep into the wood. This makes the finish penetrate much deeper, and even after it loses some of its shine you can just work the ball in your hands a little to bring some of that oil back to the surface before you show it off again.

Again I know this isn't perfect or the only way to do it, but a lot of people don't have fancy tools so i thought i would see how it went.

Please vote for me in the "on a budget" contest.

Thanks for reading and please leave a comment below with thoughts or suggestions.

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    64 Discussions

    Thanks Corinbw, for taking time to share these hints. This was just the inspiration I needed to start messing around in the shop again. I have few projects that I want to try to do within the next month for my piece of mind as gifts I drew plans for. some times the small and simple things bring on light bulb ideas. Hope to reference your project in my own instructable later. So I am making this a Favorited for future reference." Chief Gr8 T Wolf"

    Seems labor intensive,but came out beautifly

    Brilliant little instructable, I was wondering if you could tell me anything about the weight and strength of such a ball? I've got an idea to make my own pool set with wooden balls.

    This is exactly what I need for my current project. Other options were 1) ask my brother to make me one on his lathe (and hope he does it before one of us dies of old age or drive to craft store to but one. Neither was acceptable because I didn't make it. Thank you for a well thought out instructable. You qualify as an Inatructable Pro now!!

    This is job you do for the journey, rather than the outcome.

    No one could afford to buy this from you.

    The tactile experience of handling something like this, knowing you have mad it with basic hand tools and sanded it to 1500, would be great.

    I hope it becomes a family heirloom.

    My only suggestion is that, if you want to enhance the grain further, you give it a couple of coats of Tung oil. in between coats give it a rub with 0000 steel wool, which is equivalent to about 2400 grit

    4 replies

    thank you. I had no idea that the 0000 steel wool was actually that fine. I have been leaning away from using steel wool because I thought it couldn't be very fine.

    Be sure you use 0000 steel wool, you will get it in a hardware place, not a supermarket. steel wool comes in many grades, I think 0000 is the finest.

    This grade of steel wool, is what French polishers use between coats of French polish to ensure a smooth surface for the next coat. A light rub is all it takes.

    okay. Thanks guys. I have another question if anyone could answer. I want a finish that penetrates but then hardens,but i want it to be food safe, what should I use? Epoxy isn't food safe right.

    You can use walnut oil, tung oil or flaxseed oil. These all penetrate and harden. Flaxseed takes many months to dry, but it is nut-allergy safe. You can blend them with beewax (recipes online) in a ratio that leaves you with a paste that you spread on your wood, let dry, then buff to a shine.

    That is really great.

    Thanks, thanks everyone for helping me get to the finalists spot in the on a budget contest. Thanks for the traffic and all the kind comments and ideas. I couldn't have done this without all you guys.

    Great ible,well done.Thats a lot of patiences ..

    loving your Aloe Vera little puppies, I'm growing my baby a few weeks now

    1 reply

    Here's a way to get the ball round after you have roughed it out. Get 2 pieces of steel pipe about 2/3rds the ball diameter (can be electrical conduit, or iron pipe). Cut the ends of the pipes square if not already. File teeth in one end of one of the pipes. Clamp one pipe (with smooth end) vertically in vice, and set the ball on top of it. While holding ball in place on pipe with fingers from side, place toothed pipe on top of ball, press pipe down on ball, rotate on its axis, and swing it around so it abrades all over the upper half of the ball. It will knock down the high spots, and leave the low spots untouched. Keep repositioning the ball on the lower pipe so you work all around the ball. A piece of thin rubber between the ball and lower pipe will help prevent the ball slipping. A glove on the holding hand will prevent getting your hand nicked by the cutting teeth. You can use a circular hole saw (the type used to drill holes in doors for lockset installation, or for drilling large conduit holes in sheet metal, that has a toothed blade all around) if the teeth are fine, and the center drill is removed, instead of the home-brew saw made from pipe. Do this by hand only for safety. The pipe can be covered with sandpaper for further polishing up.