Turning Archive

Re: $20 each? Might have mentioned that earlier

I have made several hundred wood spheres over past few years used as molds for the pyro industry. The smaller spheres I make out of solid laminated pine wood, the larger ones I usually make in two halves and hollow the pieces and put them together prior to final turning of the outer radius. A sphere is fairly easy to turn if your lathe centers are accurate and aligned. The basic turning method is locating (3) axis centers on the wood billet prior to turning. As you rough the billet on the lathe you rotate between the different axis centers to balance the piece and fine tune the roundness of the sphere. When you alternate between the axis centers you can observe the hallow effect of the wood portion that needs to be removed while the piece is rotating between centers. As you turn the sphere to the desired circumference you usually need to drill your centers deeper as you go along to prevent losing each of the reference points for each set of center points. On the larger wood billets I usually cut the billet into an octagonal shape on a table saw to remove the bulk of the wood needing to be removed in the roughing process. Setting the table saw blade at 45 degrees and cutting all of the corners off of the piece leaves you with an octagonal shape that gets you close to a round shape and minimizes the roughing effort on the lathe. You can also make a radius template to check the shape of your turning to help determine the roundness of the piece as you are turning. You can also use a cloth measuring tape to measure the outer circumference of the sphere as you are turning between the centers and determine how accurate the roundness of the sphere is. There are several video's on YouTube that demonstrate this tried and true method used on a wood lathe.

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