Wooden balls have many uses. Some people use them as decorations in wicker baskets or turn them into holiday ornaments with paint and ribbon. Others use them in outdoor games like nine pins or croquet. Still others use round wooden craft balls as heads for statues and dolls or finials for curtain rods and bed posts. You may also need wooden balls for centers in homemade baseballs. Whatever your reason for making wooden balls, have patience. This project requires some special tools and a little more skill than other lathing projects. Work slowly and carefully and you will get a good round ball in return for your effort.
Things You'll Need
- Wooden block
- Face mask
- Angle-nose chisel
Choose a wooden block about twice as large as the planned size for your finished ball. For instance, to make a 3-inch ball, choose a 6-inch square block of wood. Blocks twice as wide and three times as long also work well. In this case, the block would be 6 inches wide and 9 inches long.
Put on your goggles and face mask. Balance your block of wood on one edge so that another edge sits parallel with the running jigsaw blade. Saw off this parallel edge, leaving a flat surface. Repeat this process until your block becomes an octagonal column.
Saw away the edges of the block's flat ends so that your octagonal column becomes a three-dimensional polygon with 18 faces: one eight-sided flat face on each end surrounded by eight more faces and eight faces in the center of the block.
Center one end of your polygon against a lathe brace and screw the other brace fast into the other end of the wood. Start the lathe and hold your angle-nosed chisel flat against the right end of the wood. Pressing gently, move the chisel from the end of the wood to the center of the wood in a half-circle motion. Continue until that side of the wood is perfectly smooth.
Repeat the latter part of Step 4 on the other half of your wood. Once both sides are smooth, step back and look at your ball. If it looks somewhat flat in the middle, more like an oval than a circle, shave off more wood on either end, pushing harder to create a deeper angle.
Sand the body of your ball as it turns on the lathe, using coarse, then fine sandpaper.
Stop the lathe, remove the ball and cut off the stubs of wood on either end with your jigsaw. Sand the ends smooth.
- Photo Credit red wood ball image by ErgÃ¼n Ã--zsoy from Fotolia.com
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