Wooden Magic 8-Ball




Introduction: Wooden Magic 8-Ball

About: My name is Troy. I'm a Mechatronics and Aerospace Engineer. I make things out of wood and electronics and spend time outdoors (especially SCUBA diving).

The Magic 8-Ball is a fortune-telling toy that was first released to the public in 1950. To use the ball, you ask it a yes or no question while holding it with the window faced down. Upon the completion of your question, rotate the ball until the window is face up to read your fortune. The reader features a floating white icosahedron with 20 fortunes to help you predict the future.

This Wooden Magic 8-Ball features the same fortune-telling accuracy housed in a classy segmented walnut sphere. The sphere is comprised of 58 pieces of walnut that surround the classic Magic 8-Ball reader.

If you want help predicting the future and want to look classy while doing it, make your own Wooden Magic 8-Ball with these instructions.

Step 1: Tools and Materials



Step 2: Cut Magic 8-Ball in Half

I started to cut the magic 8-ball in half using a hacksaw. After a minute or two of that, I quickly switched over to the band saw. Either option will work, but the band saw was much quicker. The magic 8-ball reader is what we are after. Once the ball is cut in half, it slides right out.

Step 3: Design and Make Segmented Rings for the Ball

I made a very detailed instructable on making perfect segments on the table saw. The process used there transfers directly here. First, design your ball. I decided that I wanted a ball 5 in. in diameter. Draw it on a piece of paper with a compass. Decide how thick each segmented ring is going to be and how big you'd like the hole to be in the middle. The tube from the magic 8-ball is 1 3/4 in. at its narrowest point. I opted to design for the holes through the center to be 1 1/2 inches to be safe and allow for some slight misalignment.

I decided to have 8 segments on each ring. I thought it was fitting for a wooden magic 8-ball.

Step 4: Prepare Rings

Once the rings have all been glued up and dried, sand each face flat. I used a belt sander for this, but disc sander would work just as well. Sand both faces of each ring. Cut end caps for the ball. These caps measured 3 x 3 in. each.

Step 5: Glue Half Circles

Using the clamping jig I made in step 8 of my Brick and Mortar Bowl instructable, glue together each half of the ball separate. My ball had seven rings, so one half had four rings glued together and the other half had three. Once each set of rings was dried, I cut the corners off the end caps and glued them in place. Use f-clamps until the glue dries.

Step 6: Turn the First Half

If one half of your sphere is larger than the other (like mine) cut the hole for the magic ball reader in the larger half. First attach the half to a face plate with turners tape. Then apply a healthy amount of hot glue around the edge. This will keep everything attached securely to the faceplate.

Turn the exterior of the ball mostly round and cut a hole through the middle. Be sure to not enlarge the hole more than 1.5 in. Hot glue a scrap piece of wood in the hole with about a half inch sticking out. This will be needed for a later step.

Step 7: Turn the Second Half

Remove the first half from the faceplate. A simple way to melt the hot glue is to use a metal putty knife heated up with a torch. Press it against the faceplate and into the hot glue to pry it off.

Using turners tape and hot glue, attach the second half of the ball on the face plate and turn roughly round.

Remove from faceplate once finished.

Step 8: Attach Two Halfs

Attach the two sphere halves together using turners tape. Be sure to offset the pattern for a continuous segmented look.

Step 9: Turn Ball Round

Mount the egg shaped piece between a nova chuck and tailstock cup from my Perfect Wooden Sphere instructable.

Once round in this direction, rotate the egg shaped piece between the two cups. Make sure that the center of the sphere is centered in the cups. Following the same pattern outlined in my previous instructable:

To perfect the sphere, find some recognizable marking on the sphere (for this I used the white oak cap) that will help you orient it between the cups. There are three main axes to turn the sphere through. Orient the sphere on the first axis and remove only the high points. Do not cut into the sphere past any low point. Loosen the tailstock and reorient the sphere to the next axis. Repeat the same process as before with removing only the high points. Finally, reorient the sphere to the final axis to remove the last high points.

Repeat this step if not perfectly round. Remember to only remove the high portions of the sphere. If you cut into the sphere further then that you will remove too much causing more and more material to be removed.

Step 10: Split the Ball

Remove the ball from the lathe. Draw some registration marks around the ball and split it into the two halves. From the inside, push on the scrap wood removing it from the hole.

Step 11: Mount Sphere on Faceplate

To simplify mounting a sphere on the faceplate, turn a cove in the faceplate. Press the larger half of the sphere in the cove and apply a healthy amount of hot glue to secure it in place.

Step 12: Size Hole for Reader

Turn the hole for the reader slowly increasing in size until it fits. The reader has a slight taper to it making it easier to place. Cut the lip deeper than you think (and shown here). The final sizing of this hole will be done in the next step while attached to the nova chuck for better final adjustments as it will be easily removed from the lathe and sized from the outside.

Step 13: Mount on Nova Chuck

Mount the half on the nova chuck to finish cutting the hole from the outside of the ball. Remove and test fit the reader as may times as you need to until the final fit looks good. Cut a chamfer on the edge of the hole and sand the inside of the hole smooth. You won't have access to sand this section later.

Step 14: Test Fit Reader

Insert the reader and verify that it all fits. Return to previous step if it doesn't look how you like.

Step 15: Cut Clearance for Second Half

Mount the other half on the headstock with hot glue. Turn clearance holes for the amount of the reader that is sticking out. Using the first half with the reader in place, check the clearance for the second half.

Step 16: Seal Reader Tube

At the time of publishing this instructable, all magic 8-balls are pre sealed with a cap and o ring. However, when being shipped they come with a tiny bit of air trapped in the liquid. This air may have previously been dissolved in the liquid or it could be there for thermal expansion to prevent anything from expanding and leaking. Either way, I was afraid that having the air in the liquid would be problematic later when being spun at high RPM on the lathe. I removed the air by unscrewing the cap and adding a little bit of water. I used distilled water in hopes that it would be more sterile than typical tap water preventing anything from growing in the liquid. Once the air has been removed, replace the cap, and allow to dry. Once dry, I took one more step to prevent the liquid from escaping when being spun on the lathe. I applied a healthy amount of two part epoxy over and around the cap. I also placed a thin film along the seam between the clear and white plastic.

Step 17: Epoxy in Place

Cover the reader with painters tape to prevent it from being scratched later on. Ensure the inside of the hole is free from dust. Apply epoxy to the reader tube and slide in place. I didn't think about it at the time, but you can also scratch up the sides of the reader with sandpaper to give more surface area for the epoxy to hold onto. Allow 24 hours for the epoxy to fully cure.

Step 18: Glue the Two Halves Together

With the second half still attached to the lathe, apply a healthy amount of glue to the other half of the ball. using a scrap piece of wood and the tailstock, align the registration marks and clamp in place until dry. Once dry, remove from the lathe using the same hot putty knife method as before.

Step 19: Turn Round and Sand

Using the same technique as before, turn the ball perfectly round once more. There will not be much work needed here if the ball was perfectly round previously. This will remove any glue squeeze out along with any possible misalignment from gluing the ball together.

Once turned round, sand the ball rotating across all axes starting from coarse to fine grit. I used my bowl sander and it works great for this process.

Step 20: Apply Base Coats of Lacquer

I used a scrap piece of wood with three long screws to hold the ball for lacquering. Apply 3-4 base coats of lacquer with a half hour or more dry time between coats.

Step 21: Stand

I made a quick stack out of curly maple while applying the base coats of lacquer to the ball.

Secure a 2 1/2 x 2 1/2 in. square about 1/2 in. thick to a waste block with turners tape. Use the tailstock to secure in place while turning the square round. Cut a cove in the top face of the stand checking the fit periodically (when the lacquer is dry on the magic 8-ball). Once the fit is correct, sand smooth and remove from the waste block.

Sand the bottom of the stand and apply 3-4 coats of lacquer.

Step 22: Apply Stencil

The stencil (attached to this step) is for a 5 in. magic 8-ball.

Cut the '8' from the stencil. Use the eight segments around the ball to center the '8'. I had originally planned on using the circle from the scaled template, however it was very close to the size of the end cap (non-segmented portion) of the ball. If I had used the size from the template, it would have drawn unnecessary attention to itself.

Cover the rest of the ball to prevent any white paint from showing where you don't want it.

Step 23: Apply Paint

Apply 1-2 coats of lacquer to seal the edges of the tape. This will greatly reduce the paint from bleeding under the stencil.

Apply 3-4 light coats of white paint.

Step 24: Remove Stencil

Once dry, carefully remove the stencil starting with the '8' then the tape around the ball. I often use an X-Acto knife when removing stencils. If you see any white paint that bled under the tape, you can carefully scrape it off using a knife.

Now apply 4-5 more coats of lacquer. After the second of these coats, use fine sandpaper (600 grit or higher) to remove any rough spots.

Step 25: Make It Shine

After the last coat of lacquer has dried, apply a layer of Turtle Wax. This will really make the final coat of lacquer shine

Step 26: Final Thoughts

This was a great project that tested my limits. It had me thinking out of the box and I'm pleased with the results. The only way that I think this could be better was if I had access to a CNC machine. I think that making the painted white portion an inlay with maple would make the whole ball a lot more classy.

When I asked the Magic 8 Ball if you should make one too, it said: "Yes."

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    4 years ago

    That is super! Looks so cool. Well done!


    4 years ago

    Really enjoyed following this project through the Instructable. I don't have a lathe, but just seeing the process was fun! Also picked up some tips for the future, and it turned out awesome! Thanks for sharing!


    4 years ago

    This is really awesome. If I ever get a lathe the first thing I'm going to do after I get divorced because I got a lathe is to built this.


    4 years ago

    Nice Instructable, but I don't think step 16, topping off the liquid is totally necessary. The white cap on the jar contains a bubble trap, that captures bubble as the 8-ball is rotated from readout side down to up.


    Reply 4 years ago

    I'm sure that the bubble trap should work, however I've had magic 8 balls in the past that it didn't function too well. Since I was going to stress the reader further than it was designed for, I didn't want to risk bubbles being visible and wasting my time and materials. Below is the inside of an old magic 8 ball that I couldn't clear up the bubbles with. Better safe than sorry IMO.


    4 years ago

    Well that's an organised and clear Instructable. Voted for you bro!


    4 years ago

    WAY COOL DUDE! Impressive and nicely done.


    4 years ago

    I can see that you're growing fond on spherical wooden ball...nice looking ball!

    Kink Jarfold
    Kink Jarfold

    4 years ago on Step 26

    Wow, the magic 8 Ball. I was a kid when this came out in 1950. It's been around forever and still grabs the attention. You did a wonderful rendition of this.


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