Tuesday, July 24, 2018

How to make a wooden sphere with random pattern on the lathe

This project is actually my entry for the sphere making challenge 2018. To make my sphere I used different spieces of wood I had in the shop. I used oak, maple, niangon, birch plywood, bamboo plywood and beech plywood. To make the sphere I used a technique I’ve seen in many you tube wood turners. But the first one I saw was in a video from Frank Howarth.

First of all, I roughly marked a 7cm radius circle on a piece of oak. I then cut the circle on the bandsaw. This first circle acted as template for the other pieces of wood.

I then jointed a piece of maple and a piece of niangon on the jointer. With one side flat, I passed the pieces through the thickness planer to get two flat parallel sides on my stock.

I then cut the rest of the circles on my bandsaw. 

To prevent the circles from moving around while glue up, I used a simple clamping technique. I tilted my table saw’s blade at 45 degrees and cut a V shaped groove on a piece of scrap wood. The idea is to clamp those blocks against each other while glue up. I then applied glue to all the touching surfaces and clamped them together. I let the glue set over night.

Using my center finder I marked the center of my blank and mounted it on the lathe between centers.

Using the roughing gouge, I turned the piece true at an average lathe speed. 

I then marked the center of my sphere, the ends and the middles of the hemispheres. With the bowl gouge I shaped the ends at first. Then I blended the ends with the hemispheres, until I had a rough spherical shape. 

Then I added an adapter on my lathe’s tailstock. And also added an adapter on my face plate. This way I could mount my sphere on the lathe.

Using a scraper, I lightly removed material. I just followed the ghost image of the stock and tried to remove the high spots. Then I added a marking line and remounted the sphere perpendicular to that line. I continued shaping with the scraper. After repeating that process several times, you get a sphere in the end. It’s actually pretty amazing. 

I then started power sanding with my angle grinder at 40grit. It is important to apply this rotating technique during sanding as well. I then moved to 120grit, then 220, 320, 500, 800 and 1000. I also added a cloth on my tailstock’s adapter to prevent it from leaving press marks on my sphere. 

I finished my sphere with Yorkshire grit abrasive paste. This is a wax based paste with tiny stone pieces in it. I set my lathe at it’s lowest speed, applied the paste on the ball and started the lathe. Using a piece of paper towel I polished my sphere.

I think my sphere came out really interesting. I made a few spheres in the past. This technique is so satisfying and the outcome is really impressive!

I hope you liked this project, I really enjoyed it!

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