STEFANG'S CHINESE BALL QUEST #5: Making a Wooden Ball - part 2

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Blog entry by stefang posted 02-27-2012 04:41 PM 15438 reads 1 time favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: Making a Wooden Ball - part 1 Part 5 of STEFANG'S CHINESE BALL QUEST series Part 6: Drilling the 22 constellation holes in the ball »

This is what I’m trying to make:

I hope you haven’t given up on me with this blog. My wife and I spent about a week moving my 92 year old MIL to an old folks home and then a few days recovering from the heavy lifting. We got her new place furnished nicely and my wife sewed some draperies. She seems real pleased with the change after living alone for the last 44 years. Now she has folks of her own generation to socialize with on a daily basis and she has all her everyday needs well attended to.

You might recall that we left off with the ball having been turned on the lathe as shown below.

Mostly finished ball on the lathe above

The next task was to sand off the axle nubs from parting the ball off the lathe. I like to use the disk sander for this because the cups used to hold the ball for the finishing up isn’t so secure when you turn off the nubs.

sanding on disk sander above

After removing most of the nubs on the sander I remounted the ball back on the lathe in some cup holders to finish turning the end grain part of the ball and to sand the whole thing smooth. Note that the center line on the ball which was in a vertical position on the original lathe mount is now horizontal in line with the lathe’s axis.

Ball in the cup holders on lathe above

The finished ball at last! It looks almost round too.

finished ball above

The last job is marking the ball up for drilling. There will be a total of 32 tapered holes in the ball, 20 constellation holes and 12 primary holes. The constellation holes are all drilled first at the same time. Each primary hole is drilled separately afterward and the turning of the 4 inner balls is done before moving on to the next primary hole.

The larger primary holes will be used to turn all 4 balls within the main ball (5 balls total), while the smaller constellation holes are used to help clear waste that can’t be reached by the turning tools.

The marking is done with a compass according to ball geometry to locate all the holes so that they are evenly distributed around the ball. Please note that you need to have an accurate sized ball and it has to be very round (near but not perfect) I’ve darkened the lines to make it easier for you to see.

The primary hole will be located at the center of each ‘flower’ while there will be 5 constellation holes surrounding each primary hole which you can see in the photo below.

The book “Woodturning Wizardry” by David Springett explains how to do the marking.

Marked up ball above

In the next blog I will show you how the 10 constellation holes are drilled while being held with the ball chuck. I hope you find this work interesting. Thanks for reading. The following links cover all the blogs in the series to date. #1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

16 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


118265 posts in 4825 days

#1 posted 02-27-2012 04:55 PM

This is a interesting process Mike thanks for the great blog.


View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4582 days

#2 posted 02-27-2012 05:20 PM

Thanks Jim. The blogs have been a little sporadic but I’m getting pretty close to finishing up now. I hope 3 more will do the trick. One for drilling the constellation holes, the next covering the primary holes/turning all the balls, and finally one covering nice little stand for it. The stand will be quite different than Yuri’s.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View SPalm's profile


5338 posts in 5130 days

#3 posted 02-27-2012 05:44 PM

I really find this so interesting. Thanks.

Nice to see you off of the porch,

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 4284 days

#4 posted 02-27-2012 06:06 PM

A different ball to Yuri’s as well. All curves looks a little more tricky.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View patron's profile


13722 posts in 4589 days

#5 posted 02-27-2012 06:31 PM

great blog mike

you really help to understand this process

thank you !

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

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4582 days

#6 posted 02-27-2012 06:38 PM

I miss that porch Steve. I can’t wait until we get good enough weather to sit on it again!

Yes Martyn, I think this ball may be a bit more complex, but I have no doubt that Yuri wouldn’t be too challenged doing this one either. He is very resourceful and an amazing craftsman. Mine will be a bit more difficult than the finished one shown above though. You will see the difference when I finish it, I’m almost quite confident that will happen. And BTW it hasn’t happened so far!

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4582 days

#7 posted 02-27-2012 06:47 PM

Thanks David, I hope others will feel the same way.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Schwieb's profile


1921 posts in 4709 days

#8 posted 02-27-2012 10:13 PM

Mike, You’re a really brave man to take this on. I find it very fascinating. I had to make a ball using a jig basically like your’s, just to prove I could. Thanks for posting.

-- Dr. Ken, Florida - Durch harte arbeit werden Träume wahr.

View Roger's profile


21055 posts in 4052 days

#9 posted 02-27-2012 10:18 PM

oh, I can see, yer gonna have a ball makin this

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4582 days

#10 posted 02-27-2012 10:32 PM

Good Ken. Did it come out ok? Hi Roger you right on the ball with that comment! It will be all good fun until I mess it up.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Dale J Struhar Sr's profile

Dale J Struhar Sr

522 posts in 4378 days

#11 posted 02-28-2012 12:10 AM

I find this very interesting and enjoy the craftsmanship. Looking for the next post.

-- Dale, Ohio

View Dave's profile


11435 posts in 4088 days

#12 posted 02-28-2012 01:18 AM

Great stuff Mike. I hope you recover from the MIL move. Now what I am waiting on is a demo of those handmade turning tools. The project process is very interesting and fun to see. Thanks for posting.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4582 days

#13 posted 02-28-2012 09:57 AM

Thanks Dale and Dave. Before the actual turning begins, I have to drill the the constellation (smaller) holes. I plan to do this today. I will be blogging the procedure and and the results if all goes well later on today.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Dave's profile


11435 posts in 4088 days

#14 posted 02-28-2012 12:03 PM


-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View Yuri's profile


55 posts in 4663 days

#15 posted 02-28-2012 01:33 PM

You are so good and thorough in making the ball and explaining the process. Your blog has way more sense compared with mine on HOW TO. I was never good with words, I should do the video on the next ball :)

Thank you very much for sharing!

-- Live to Learn

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