Wooden Beads in the Heat of the Night

  • Advertise with us
Project by ToddHolmDotCom posted 07-17-2012 05:49 AM 3728 views 22 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Like much of the US I have been sweltering in high temperatures for the last few weeks. My garage is not air conditioned and by noon it is in the 80s and stays well over 90 until about midnight. So I have been missing out on a lot of woodworking opportunities during the summer. So I decided I needed to either be able to do woodworking in an air conditioned environment, or in the middle of the night, or work in the shop without actually being in the shop. Surprisingly, I found a way to do all three. I had seen posts about wooden beads/balls and how to make a machine that would make them with various grits of sanding pads (Check out these projects/blogs and and and and this is an interesting and much simpler design that I hadn’t seen before using a drill press . So I did some table saw work in the wee hours of the morning to make the carcass, rounded up a few supplies (ever-bolt, a 1/6 HP motor, pulleys, a drive belt, U-bolts, etc) and built it in my living room.

It does a pretty good job. I cut a bunch of scraps (like those in the first picture but scraps of lots of different kinds of wood, Osage Orange, Paduak, Walnut, Maple, Black Palm, Cedar and even a couple of little chunks of plywood) to 3/4 or 1 inch squares (or roughly square). Then put them in the canister on top and put the lid on. When I have the vacuum on it doesn’t need to be tied down. But when that’s not running I use a bungee cord to hold the lid on. I start with a 36 grit sanding disk I picked up at Harbor Freight Tools and work my way up to 220. I initially over stocked it and had to pull a few out until they were spinning well. I also found I could run it at a higher speed than I initially thought. I think with the speed at about 900 RPM I can run the 36 grit for about an hour (while I am sitting in an air-conditioned house) then they should be pretty rounded, then each of the other grits for 20-30 minutes (again, in the AC) and then I put a wool bonnet (clear in one of the pics) on it, add a little Linseed Oil and spin it for about 10 minutes and I am done. They look cool. They are kind of like a wooden river rock.

I picked up a few tips from others along the way. Several of the posts on previous designs talk about how loud they were so I lined the inside of the container with an 1/8 inch foam pad I got from Wal-Mart. I added a 2.5 inch Vacuum connection for $5 and built the frame out of 3/4 plywood so it would have plenty of weight to it so it would walk around while spinning. I am going to add a light switch to it so I don’t have to stop and start by unplugging/plugging.

All in all a good time and a good use for small shop scraps of expensive woods. I think I will display them in a tall narrow glass vase like the last picture but with a smaller diameter.

-- Todd "I am just a teacher and a carpenter, that doesn't mean I have a God complex. But I am complex."

8 comments so far

View Wolffarmer's profile


407 posts in 3385 days

#1 posted 07-17-2012 12:23 PM

Great beads. I saw a video of one of these spinners a while back and might build one some day. Have you ever drilled a hole in the beads before you spun them to make a thread able bead?


-- That was not wormy wood when I started working on it.

View DaddyZ's profile


2475 posts in 3188 days

#2 posted 07-17-2012 01:08 PM

Nice Project !!!

-- Pat - Worker of Wood, Collector of Tools, Father of one

View drbyte's profile


806 posts in 4209 days

#3 posted 07-17-2012 01:21 PM

Very nice!! Been aiming to try this for a while now. We need more pics/blog on how you did it!! What is your drum made of? What size is your shaft and bearings? What size are your disks and bonnets? What kind of backer disk to the sanding disks did you use and how is it attached to your shaft? Please give us hungry LJ’S more info!!!

-- Dennis, WV

View ToddHolmDotCom's profile


94 posts in 2947 days

#4 posted 07-17-2012 05:13 PM

Dennis—A blog would be a fun idea. I will see if I can carve out the time to do that. Let me give you some of the information you asked about. The drum is actually the bottom half of a small round trashcan. I cut the top off at a point where it had a radius about 3/4 of an inch larger than the hole I cut for the sanding pad. Then I cut a recessed groove in the top of the carcass to help hold it firmly in place and lined the inside with foam to keep the noise down and then when it is spinning I line the inside with sandpaper. The shaft is 1/2 in ever-bolt and obviously the bearings are designed to receive a 1/2 shaft. I used two nuts wrenched together to serve as a stop above the lower bearing. Then during a test run the shaft started to rise up so two more went below it to hold it in place with a slight gap. I went with the biggest disks I could find, 7 inches. I picked them up at Harbor Freight Tools. Some were hook and loop so I have Velcro on the disk (tacked/stapled in place because there is no way the adhesive back would have held up) that is attached to the shaft (that disk is from 3/4 in plywood with an extra block attached to the back side so I could recess a nut and washer on the top without protruding above the plane of the surface). Then I cut some discs from hardboard and either put Velcro on the for the hook and loop discs or glued the sanding pad to the disk. The bonnet is also a 7 inch bonnet and slips over a hardboard disc with Velcro and just barely fits inside the drum.

Like I said I will try to get a blog up with more details if people are interested. It is just a little something fun to do with left over nuggets in the shop. I think I might try drilling holes in the next batch so they could be used for jewelry or something like that. Really the next step needs to be figuring out what to do with them. they look nice just sitting in a wooden bowl but I worry about them as a choking danger for small children.

-- Todd "I am just a teacher and a carpenter, that doesn't mean I have a God complex. But I am complex."

View Paul Lajoie's profile

Paul Lajoie

136 posts in 3251 days

#5 posted 07-17-2012 11:32 PM

What speed are you guys running these at? I’ve got a motor I could use but not sure if it would be to fast! Great way to get rid of all the small cutoffs from turning pens. Now if some one can think of a way to do this with the plastic/acrylic pieces.


View ToddHolmDotCom's profile


94 posts in 2947 days

#6 posted 07-18-2012 03:12 AM

The motor I use runs at 1750 RPM but i put a one in pulley on the motor and a 3 inch pulley on the drive shaft so if my math is right that makes it about 580 RPM. I think that was a little too slow, so I bumped it up to the 1.5 inch pulley which should put it at about 875 RPM (and those are rough estimates based on approximate pulley size). That seemed to do a little better job.

-- Todd "I am just a teacher and a carpenter, that doesn't mean I have a God complex. But I am complex."

View Philip's profile


1277 posts in 2686 days

#7 posted 07-18-2012 03:38 AM

That is amazing.

-- I never finish anyth

View Brandon Whelan's profile

Brandon Whelan

13 posts in 2293 days

#8 posted 07-22-2012 03:21 AM

Very nice was to use up some scrap pieces

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics