Introduction: Wooden Radio

Picture of Wooden Radio

A Radio, which can be positioned and used in two ways. On the one side as a sculpture and on the other side
as a radio.

Discovering and understanding are two typical human acts which belong to the development and education in life. Men are curiously striving for knowledge and if they don‘t find any solutions it makes them anxious. Among its function, the radio “bola” is also a sculpture which does not give any hints to reveal its use. First of all, the observer of “bola” does not know anything about the use of it in the first way. He needs to find out by trying. For switching the radio on and off, setting tune, and to change the volume, the radio has two rotatable rings lying upon another. The round base is the speaker and to use the radio it has to be turned around. Then the radio finds a new stable position on its own through inner weight distribution. Except the electronic pieces, the radio “bola” is completely made out of wood. The case consists of many wooden layers, which are different in their thickness and sort of wood (obeche, balsa, linden, mahogany). If “bola” is not in use as a radio, it can be turned around again to stand on its speaker, which integrates itself as a sculptural object into the interior space.

Step 1: The Design

Picture of The Design

After long time of researches, scetches and brainstorming I finally found my idea of a wooden radio. I found a method how to place the tuners for setting them by rings, not by buttons. In my pre-model you can see the axial position of the pencil, which shows the middle and the idea to place the tuners in one line, up to each other, not next to each other.

Step 2: Choose the Wood

Picture of Choose the Wood

I decided to take different sorts of wood, in my case it got mahogany, obeche, balsa and linden. When I knew what kind and thickness I could buy in the modelling shop, I started to plan the layers, what part I give what wood for. After planning I started sawing and cutting the layers, piece by piece.

Step 3: Build Up the Hollow Part

Picture of Build Up the Hollow Part

After cutting it's all about bringing them clean and parallel together.

Step 4: Shapening to Final Form

Picture of Shapening to Final Form

With a turning lathe I finished the form. In one second I was not concentrated enough, so I broke it. It exploded into more then 20 pieces, but I was lucky and could find every little piece to bring it back together.. so take care, this shocking moment is nothing I can recommend :)

Step 5: Add the Electronics

Picture of Add the Electronics

In the last step comes the meaning of the radio... the radio! I bought a simple buiding set, which includes just two bottons, one for setting the volume and one for the channels. The "start"-botton is included in the volume controller.

For the inside I builded an extra mount for the electronics, which is sticking by clicking in the hollow part. With this mount it's possible to place the controllers stacked. Here the upper one is for the volume, the lower one for the channels. To shape them for more grip to the wooden part I took a metal saw and rasps.

When all pieces are prepared, shaped, sanded and brazed, you finally can bring them together, there's no more glue neccessary, just stick them into each other. The profile on the controllers and in your controlling rings need to fit into each other, that there's just one (or two) possible positions. If everything went fine, your radio is done, ready, willing to be used!

Wish you a lot of fun trying it! You can check my technical drawing, but I'm pretty sure every radio would be unique, depending of the wood, the set and apperance.

Thanks for watching / reading, I'm courious and excited about your comments!




hummingbird2002 (author)2016-01-04

Cool project I am doing this in class!!

Izzypup (author)2015-05-04

Hello again! Months ago I commented on your radio and (stupidly) asked how much you'd charge to make one for me. (I've done crafts for years - decades really - and have often explained to those who ask why I don't make a living doing it that there is so much time involved, nobody would pay for the time involved - even at minimum wage!) But now I have another, possibly equally stupid question. Would it be feasible for you to assemble the insides - the radio part - for a price? And, if so, how much would that cost. My reasoning - I am completely, hopelessly ignorant regarding anything electronic but LOVE working with wood and am sure I can accomplish the build if the exterior. I can do the wood build to fit the interior you create.
I simply LOVE what you've done and an grasping at straws in an attempt to have one if my own! Give my idea some thought and let me know what you think!

helmuel (author)Izzypup2015-06-22

Sorry for the late answer, I've sent you a message and some pics here, I couldn't add to the message:

(Some wires already broke, don't open it too often ;P )

Izzypup (author)helmuel2015-06-22

Okay, so I stupidly asked how much you would charge to make one of your rolling radios for me. (I do crafts too and I know how time consuming they can be - hence the "stupidly".) But I still want one! (Feel free to read that in a whiny voice) I'm admittedly grasping at straws here but what is the possibility (and price, if it is possible) of you putting together the electronic bits? As I said before, I'm electronic-stupid and wouldn't have any idea where to start, no matter how good the instructions are. I'm a visual learner. I MIGHT be able to do it if I watched you and mimicked each step.

The wood is a different matter. I LOVE working with wood and am at least 95% sure I could pull off the housing for the radio.

As I said, grasping at straws. But I HAD to try!

owatson (author)2015-03-20

this is cool. I want to make a stereo Bluetooth speaker that looks like this

jjmorrison4 (author)2015-02-08

Where did you get the radio kit?

helmuel (author)jjmorrison42015-02-17

I bougth it in an electronic store.. you also can find it in the internet, check the links in other comments!

Porda (author)2015-01-30

I love the minimal design. Great work!

PowellMade (author)2015-01-29

Nice work fitting that all inside!! Loved it.

Lathes are sure fun. Do you know what went wrong so others can avoid smashing their jobs? Chisel fell below rest or caught?

tomas75a (author)2015-01-25

This is awesome! Nice work! :)

stephen.coyle.503 (author)2015-01-24

Hats off to you for such an amazing piece of work! Keep them coming :)

aerohydro_nz (author)2015-01-24

This is a great Instructable. It's a lovely design, reminds me a bit of a wooden MP3 player that was mentioned on BoingBoing a few years ago. (

adamwatters (author)2015-01-22

really beautiful work!

hgaikwad (author)2015-01-20

Very beautiful
Do u have any simple design which as beautiful as this

helmuel (author)hgaikwad2015-01-22

thank you! I have a lot of different designs, but each one is about anything else and not even a real existing product I can share here :p

Izzypup (author)2015-01-20

So beautiful and elegant! I love things made of wood - and making things of wood. Unfortunately, I'm completely ignorant when it comes to the electrical parts. What are the chances (and what would the price be) for you to make one for me?!

helmuel (author)Izzypup2015-01-22

thanks! guess the price of materials and time would be a way to high ;) if I'd get the chance to produce it another way, you will hear from me!

jdenslinger (author)2015-01-20

If I put a blutooth receiver in it, can I call it the e-bola radio? Ok ok... that was lame
But Really awesome product! I almost wish I could buy one! If you find a manufacturer to (semi-)mass produce these, please share with us!

helmuel (author)jdenslinger2015-01-22

hehe, I guess it's a way too expensive building another single one, but if I'd get the chance to find any other chance to produce it professional I'll let yyou know.. that would be a dream :D

helmuel (author)helmuel2015-01-22

oh, about the single one, was ment to another comment xP

robolimbo (author)2015-01-21

I'll bet I could put one of those little radios in a hollowed out gourd! Great build!

cptully (author)2015-01-21

Well, I haven't read all of the comments yet, but this comment hasn't popped up yet:

1) Balsa is a very soft wood, in my experience I doubt that it would stand up well to turning on a lathe without first saturating it with epoxy.

2) The other thing you could have done to make the turning go better is to make your glue up as a solid, turn it and then drill out the interior. This is the more common approach to making hollow bowl shaped objects on a lathe.


helmuel (author)cptully2015-01-21

a) of corse balsa ist softer, but it's not the problem on a lathe

b) right, but I had not enough wood, too expensive

pepsiline (author)2015-01-21

Your creation is amazing. It is really beautiful ans oh so cool!

Congrats :)

wobbler (author)2015-01-20

i really like this, it looks fantastic.

As a development suggestion, you could use a cheap tilt switch to turn the radio on which is open circuit when the sculpture is on its end (e.g. )

You could leave it in series with the volume on-off switch so you could still permanently turn it off when transporting it about if you needed to, but at other times you'd just turn the radio over to turn it on.

astrong0 (author)wobbler2015-01-20

I was literally going to post a comment about a tilt switch but decided to look through the comments first.

wobbler (author)astrong02015-01-21

As the saying goes, great minds think alike! (Fortunately I can't remember the rest of it!)

wb7ptr (author)2015-01-20

My ham radio friends would get a kick out of this.

arex (author)2015-01-20

This is seriously cool...really clever and beautiful.

HawkeyeKane (author)2015-01-20

Very cool! I have a couple questions for you though. Could you shoot me an email? hawkeyekane at yahoo dot com.

Menneset (author)2015-01-20

Fantastic work! You have given me many ideas... For now I have to build a lathe!

LynxSys (author)2015-01-20

This is a beautiful piece of work, and the controls are simple, novel, and elegant. It's a wonderful first contribution to Instructables; I'm looking forward to seeing more of your work soon!

nikkkki (author)2015-01-20

wonderful design!

spylock (author)2015-01-20

Really cool design,I like it a lot.

Aristarco (author)2015-01-20

Did some search and found that the kit you used might be the Vintage Wireless Conrad 3779, Item number: 192214 - 62, Part number: 3779, EAN: 9783772337796


helmuel (author)Aristarco2015-01-20

haha, thank ypu! yes, it's it! I bought it at the conrad store ;) good work too!

Aristarco (author)2015-01-20

This is so awesome!! Wonderful, wonderful work! Gorgeous results. You have my vote. Wish you had written the radio kit make and model before throwing the package, though. :(


lgabriel5 (author)2015-01-20

Fantastic. Wunderbar!!! It's my dream construct an radio. Where buy the base radio kit?

helmuel (author)lgabriel52015-01-20

thank you :) you can find it in the internet or an electronics store.. down the comments I posted a link, how it's called

lgabriel5 (author)helmuel2015-01-20

Thank you. I'm exiting test your radio.

MichaelN (author)2015-01-20

It looks like you left the paper on when gluing the layers together? If so, this would explain why it broke. Even without the paper in place, I'd be tempted to use epoxy (the thin stuff used for laying-up fiberglass), as the extra strength would help.

helmuel (author)MichaelN2015-01-20

no, I removed the paper before gluing it.. it broke because I pulled the lathe tool too hard in it, so it got stuck in the model

helmuel (author)helmuel2015-01-20

maybe the paper you see on the lathe is double sided tape to fix the tuners on the body

Old cooper (author)2015-01-20

Beautiful idea and great work doing it. Thanks for the post.

pshankland (author)2015-01-20

great! what is the radio kit you used? Phil

helmuel (author)pshankland2015-01-20

thanks ;) it's a kit like this:

pshankland (author)2015-01-20

gorgeous - I just shared on FB. :-)

jtaylor115 (author)2015-01-18

This is the most amazing Instructable I have ever seen. it may be my soft spot for electronics, woodwork, and design all in one place but wow I am definitely try this. I must find a solution for the lathe as I do not have one.

helmuel (author)jtaylor1152015-01-18

thanks a lot! yes, had the same problem, planned to rasp it by hand with a lot of patience.. buut luckily I found a machine to use ;) I think it also would work by hand or a slowly selfmade construction.. the only difficulty is the hardness of the different lumbers..

3rdiii (author)helmuel2015-01-18

What is the approximate cost and labor hours

About This Instructable



Bio: Helena Mueller, Industrial Design student, Darmstadt Germany
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