Truncated icosahedron, uh, soccer ball, nightlight

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Project by LiveEdge posted 10-14-2014 03:26 PM 3883 views 6 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A few months ago I built a TARDIS nightlight for my son who is a fan of Dr. Who (see projects). My daughter, knowing her birthday was coming up, asked for a soccer ball nightlight. I laughed and told her that would be almost impossible to build (knowing that I had seen some balls built on Lumberjocks). Well, I undertook the challenge and I can say it was very difficult. I chose quaking aspen both because it is soft and easy to work and because it is very white. I decided to leave the pentagons out so as to allow the light to shine through. The light is a LED that has a remote which lets you control the brightness, color, or patterns of color change.

I basically started with a ring of hexagons at the bottom. The tough thing is you don’t know how accurate your cut is until you try to put together five of them in a ring. It took me three attempts before I got the angles to a precise enough degree to let it go together without custom cutting one of them. I found the best technique was to print a hexagon on paper, tape it to the wood with double sided tape, then scribe the hex with a knife and straight edge. I would then cut the hex out on the chop saw. I then cut the bevel of each edge on the table saw. After lots and lots of fussing, the ball came together nicely until the very top when I had to custom cut two of the last hexes to make it all fit together. I then sanded, painted the black rings, and finished with some poly. She gets it in ten days. :)

9 comments so far

View dakremer's profile


2742 posts in 3542 days

#1 posted 10-14-2014 03:31 PM

very cool! Do you plan on painting it like a soccer ball?

I can only imagine the amount of hair that was pulled out during the build! :)

-- Hey you dang woodchucks, quit chucking my wood!!!!

View InsideTheBox's profile


123 posts in 2124 days

#2 posted 10-14-2014 03:32 PM

Wow, very cool. When the kids say “when am I ever going to need Geometry in the real world…” —THIS IS WHY!!! So you can amaze your friends!!

I’m trying to figure out what the glue-up must have looked like. I have enough trouble with straight edges.

-- There's no such thing as a mistake; only a quick change of plans.

View LiveEdge's profile


600 posts in 2070 days

#3 posted 10-14-2014 03:33 PM

No. That’s it for painting. The black rings along the edges of the pentagons and the lightness of the wood are enough for me to make it look like a soccer ball. I’d hate to hide the wood with white paint.

View Mr M's Woodshop's profile

Mr M's Woodshop

422 posts in 3517 days

#4 posted 10-14-2014 04:02 PM

Oh my GOODNESS. This is a wonderful project and exquisite craftsmanship. Your daughter should be ecstatic!

How hard is it to change the LED?

Love this project! If only I had the patience to do this kind of detail work! Maybe when I’m mature enough I’ll develop the patience required.

-- Henry Mowry, Santa Clarita, CA,

View LiveEdge's profile


600 posts in 2070 days

#5 posted 10-14-2014 04:03 PM

Henry, I got mildly lucky in that the LED fits perfectly through the top pentagon. You have to do a little wrangling from both sides with your fingers to screw it in, but LEDs should last 25,000 hours so I think I’m good. ;)

View deon's profile


2522 posts in 3476 days

#6 posted 10-14-2014 06:07 PM

Great work!

-- Dreaming patterns

View StLouisWoodworker's profile


67 posts in 4426 days

#7 posted 10-15-2014 02:28 AM

Nice idea and well done. Maybe taking a look at my blogs on cutting hexagons and polygons on a table saw would relieve some of the fussing. Not sure about that, but I’d be interested if they would help in that way.

-- Don Snyder (38.6N, 90.3W)

View LiveEdge's profile


600 posts in 2070 days

#8 posted 10-15-2014 04:06 AM

Thanks Don. I read many blogs first. It’s one thing to know the bevel has to be at 20.9 degrees for hex to hex joints, but another to coax your table saw into making those cuts with precision and repetition.

View Pim's profile


1 post in 1294 days

#9 posted 02-02-2016 09:44 PM

Very nice and very unusual idea, first time I have seen such as a lamp. I have seen another such similar “thing”, meaning symmetrical and with many facettes, essentially spherical in shape but it was a masterpiece of welding and the maker made the pattern of the facettes to stand out by using the welding material in the joints of another material than the facette/side material. I have seen nothing such like in wood though. Excellent and very, very nice!

I have a question: You mentioned that you used a LED-light inside which you could adjust, amongst other, the color of. Would it be possible for you to give some details regarding the model/maker of the LED-light? Where did you found that particular LED-light you used for your project?

I am working at a workshop where they do advanced things (prototyping very often of design ideas) in wood and also in metal. I am located in Stockholm, Sweden and have never seen any LED-lights of that type/size/design that you describe here in Sweden before (LED-lights that are adjustable in so many ways). To buy such LED-light from abroad for me is no problem, but where to find? I am planning to build such a “nightlamp” myself but would have to get an idea of the LED-light’s size first to decide what dimensions the final assembled “nightlamp” could have.


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