Turning Archive 2008

Small spheres with a tube gouge *PIC*

John K Jordan
>As per the discussion on spheres, I tried making a small tube gouge from a piece of steel pipe. The pipe was about 0.36" ID (9mm). I ground a bevel on the outside leaving a sharp edge on the inner diameter.

I tried making some small spheres from a variety of woods as shown below. Turned out they were very quick and easy to make. The spheres in the photo are more or less 1/2" (about 12mm) in diameter. I used a small detail gouge to make rough beads close to the right size then turned them into nice spheres with the tube.

Things I learned:

--- The tube acts more like a scraper than a gouge. I first tried my Termite tool which has the bevel on the inside of the ring and it was a disaster. It kept trying to cut into the sphere.
--- The edge on the tube needs to be as smoothly honed as possible, otherwise it will put deep scratches on the sphere. (Duh) After first attempting to sharpen in on a grinding wheel, I chucked the tube up on the lathe and while it was spinning I ground the bevel with a rotating sanding disk. I then honed with a diamond hone. I sharpened both ends so I could switch when one end got a little dull. I cleaned up the inside of the tube with a round file.
--- The sphere must be somewhat larger than the tube ID or it will catch and bind and break the sphere from the supporting wood.
--- With the cutting edge of the tube in contact with the wood, swing the back end back and forth to shape the sphere. It was a little easier to hold the tube against the tool rest, but not absolutely necessary.
--- It worked a little better if I rotated the tube (around it's long axis) while working it back and forth over the surface of the sphere. I'd like to try spinning the tube slowly in an electric drill.
--- Little wood spheres will roll right off a bandsaw table and get lost in the shavings around the lathe!! The five shown below are what I have left after making eight!
--- It was FAR FAR easier to turn a decent sphere with the tube than to try to get it spherical with a skew or detail gouge.

The little spheres in the photo are black cherry, cocobolo, ebony, holly, and pink flame, all more or less 1/2" in diameter.

Good clean fun!


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