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STEFANG'S CHINESE BALL QUEST #9: Having a Ball (or at least making one)

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Blog entry by stefang posted 886 days ago 3529 reads 3 times favorited 25 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 8: Learned Something New Today? Part 9 of STEFANG'S CHINESE BALL QUEST series Part 10: Started the new ball today with some changes »

You might guess that I wouldn’t have a new ball ready so fast after the last fiasco. Well, I did get out to the shop long enough to turn a new one today.

I used a new method to turn this ball, and I think it is the best one I’ve done so far. Nothing original about the way I did it, but new for me. It could be that many of you out there aren’t interested in turning Chinese balls, but I would think most turners would like to try their hand at doing a ball sometime, so I thought I would share this method with you. It’s mostly photos and not too much babble, so I hope you will have a look.


The workpiece


Mounting the workpiece between centers


Turned down to the finished diameter and marked with the ball’s diameter and a centerline.


A spigot is turned to fit into my 4 jaw chuck.


Mounted in my 4 jaw chuck and with the tailstock brought up and locked in to ensure stability and accuracy. I have also turned it down to make the 25mm axles (left thick for stability).


Here you can see the template and that it fits the circumference of the workpiece.


I have partially turned the ends at 45 degree angle and you can see what is left to turn by the template. I used a wide round nosed scraper up to this point. It doesn’t really scrape, it cuts. You can get A nice smooth cut without have to worrry too much about cutting too much off as you might with a gouge.


I have been using a gouge since the last photo because I can cut closer to the axles. You have to use good technique on these cuts to get them smooth and consistence since you are working more or less on vertical surfaces. A check with the template indicates that we are getting closer.


continuing with the gouge and also using the scraper again on surfaces closer to the centerline. Not far to go now.


Almost there! Note that the axles are turned down. Be careful with the axle on the headstock side because you will need it to be strong enough to eventually turn the ball without the tailstock in place.


Ok, this is pretty close. I think it will be easiest, safest and quickest to start sanding from this point.


The template shows that it is perfect. Now I just have to get those axles turned off.


The tailstock end is parted off and you can see the nub.


The toolrest is brought up and the nub turned off.


A little sanding and a check with the template, Bingo! Take your time with this. It’s not overly easy to get that nub off and even with the rounded surface of the ball.


The ball parted off from the chuck. Now the last remaining axle nub has to be turned off.


The ball is mounted in my ball chuck and the last nub turned off and sanded smooth. If you don’t have a ball chuck, you can just turn a cup with the same radius as the ball, place the ball in the cup and bring your tailstock up and lock the ball in place, turn off as much of the nub as possible, sand and then remove the ball from the lathe, cut the remaining tiny nub off with a chisel and then sand by hand.


And here it is, the finished ball.

Some helpful tips
1. Take extra care to get your diameter right when you rough down the workpiece so you know exactly what it is.
2. Very important to keep your tool cutting edges as close as possibel to the horizontal center-point of the workpiece
3. Make sure that the length of the workpiece between your marks is exactly the same as the diameter and that the centerline is truly in the center.
4. When you reduce the diameter of your axles make sure you don’t cut too close and make the end of the ball flat. It is easier to do than you might think.

5. After the initial roughing of the ball you have to stay focused as it is easy to cut to much off, especially with the gouge. Keep an eye on the ball profile as you turn and take light cuts and check often with the template. Some turners use a water glass or other round container to check the ball’s roundness with, but that doesn’t tell you if are at the right diameter, so I prefer the template.

Thanks for reading and I hope you find something interesting here. Below are links to this series.

http://lumberjocks.com/stefang/blog/27858 #1
http://lumberjocks.com/stefang/blog/27938 #2
http://lumberjocks.com/stefang/blog/28079 #3
http://lumberjocks.com/stefang/blog/28240 #4
http://lumberjocks.com/stefang/blog/28512 #5
http://lumberjocks.com/stefang/blog/28536 #6
http://lumberjocks.com/stefang/blog/28866 #7
http://lumberjocks.com/stefang/blog/28905 #8

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.



25 comments so far

View patron's profile

patron

13001 posts in 1967 days


#1 posted 886 days ago

i never knew how any of this was done

great tutorial mike

you are on the ball today !

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View shipwright's profile

shipwright

4899 posts in 1423 days


#2 posted 886 days ago

Thanks Mike. To we non-turners this is very good info. It will be filed.

Thanks again.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fiberglass trees. http://prmdesigns.com/

View stefang's profile

stefang

12873 posts in 1960 days


#3 posted 886 days ago

Thanks David and Paul I had to do this work anyway and I thought it would be fun to share it. There are lots of Youtube videos showing ball turning, but I haven’t seen any that I felt were very useful or instructive for the average guy with the average lathe.

The problem here is that I can’t show any tool use as I only have two hands, but experienced turners will find that part a no-brainer. I’m glad to get away from the ball cutting jig. I didn’t really like it much. It was slower and less accurate than this method. On the negative side, this is my last piece of Maple, so I hope I can take this one all the way!

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View 76winger's profile

76winger

151 posts in 1743 days


#4 posted 886 days ago

Great article and thanks for sharing with everyone.

-- Dave, See some of my creations at: http://www.etsy.com/shop/76Winger

View stefang's profile

stefang

12873 posts in 1960 days


#5 posted 886 days ago

Thanks Dave.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View grizzman's profile

grizzman

6917 posts in 1929 days


#6 posted 886 days ago

when you started this project i had no idea it was going to be this small, its very intimidating to me anyway, but i have all the confidence in you that you will pull this off..no doubt what so ever…

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View John  Powell's profile

John Powell

2 posts in 1422 days


#7 posted 886 days ago

Nice shoots on how you did this.

-- JWP

View stefang's profile

stefang

12873 posts in 1960 days


#8 posted 886 days ago

Hi Grizz, yeah, close to 2-1/2” diameter. Thanks for your confidence. I too think I will succeed, especially since I plan to continue until I do. I feel that everything is coming together with this project now.

Thanks John.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Dave's profile

Dave

11149 posts in 1465 days


#9 posted 886 days ago

And we have started our journey again. Nice roundositty (Roy Underhill’s term for round things) Mike. I wish you well on your journey. Try, try again. Thats how we succeed.
And Mike I have a video on the sash. I just can’t get YouTube to act right. I will post as soon as I can. My sash journey was full of lessons. Four of them, each corner.
Keep us tuned in.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are." http://chiselandforge.com

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

14721 posts in 2301 days


#10 posted 886 days ago

Seems like there is more waste than ball!! Looks like a simple way to do it, but then I’ve never turned anything yet.

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View stefang's profile

stefang

12873 posts in 1960 days


#11 posted 886 days ago

I’m looking forward to that video Dave

Ya Bob there is extra, especially on the headstock end. you need the extra long axle on that side to get in there with the turning tools, otherwise the chuck jaws gets in the way. After the ball is drilled and hollowed out I imagine only about 20-30% remains and less if you count the waste from around the axles. Most turnings like bowls, hollow forms, etc. typically lose up to about 80% of the wood.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

14721 posts in 2301 days


#12 posted 886 days ago

Maybe turnings should be all fruit wood or alder so the waste would be good for smoking fish ;-))

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View stefang's profile

stefang

12873 posts in 1960 days


#13 posted 886 days ago

Not a bad idea Bob.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

14721 posts in 2301 days


#14 posted 886 days ago

My claim to fame is the best smoked salmon in the world!

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View lanwater's profile

lanwater

3076 posts in 1560 days


#15 posted 885 days ago

Thanks Mike.

Now I know how they are made; I was always wondering.

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

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