Perfect Wooden Sphere





Introduction: Perfect Wooden Sphere

About: My name is Troy. I'm a Mechatronics graduate studying Mechanical Engineering. I like to make things and spend time outdoors (especially SCUBA diving). I am a Community Manager for Instructables.

Wooden spheres can be helpful for an entire range of crafts, decorations, and even art. This project was mainly for practice for an upcoming instructable, but also a proof of concept for the process.

A sphere is a three dimensional object where every point on the surface is the same distance from the center. With this elementary knowledge, the process shown below for turning a sphere on a lathe makes a lot of sense. As the sphere is turned on the lathe through all three axis, all the points on the surface become the same distance from the center.

This project is simple enough to complete in a few hours. I recommend trying it out if you want to learn a new technique for your wood turning.

Step 1: Tools and Materials



Step 2: Glue Hardwood Mounts

Cut scrap wood into a blanks that measure 4 x 4 x 3 in. and 3 x 3 x 3 in. when glued together. Glue and clamp until dry.

Step 3: Turn Drive Cup

Mount the blank to a face plate using turners tape and tailstock. Once round, drill a 7/8 in. hole. Tap the hole using a wood tap that matches the threads on the spindle. Cut a relief in the threads and mount on the spindle. Turn the cup round once more and cut a 1/2 in. deep cove. Sand smooth.

Step 4: Turn Tailstock Cup

Mount the tailstock cup between a faceplate and tailstock. Turn round and cut a cove matching the drive cup. Reverse the drive cup and mount in a a nova chuck. Cut a clearance hole in the back of the cup the size of the live center for the tailstock.

Step 5: Apply Plasti Dip

Using painters tape, mask off the cups. Apply between five and eight light coats of plasti dip spray. This will give traction to the cups.

Step 6: Turn Firewood Round

Mount a piece of wood between centers. I used an old piece of firewood. Turn until round. Using calipers, measure the diameter of the wood. Transfer that diameter lengthwise on the wood.

Step 7: Turn Rough Sphere

Using the marks from the previous step, turn a rough sphere. Cut the sphere from the lathe.

Step 8: Mount Rough Sphere

Mount the sphere in the cups and turn the high points down.

Step 9: Turn Sphere Round

To perfect the sphere, find some recognizable marking on the sphere that will help you orient it between the cups. There are three main axes to turn the sphere through. Orient the sphere on the first axis and remove only the high points. Do not cut into the sphere past any low point. Loosen the tailstock and reorient the sphere to the next axis. Repeat the same process as before with removing only the high points. Finally, reorient the sphere to the final axis to remove the last high points.

Repeat this step if not perfectly round. Remember to only remove the high portions of the sphere. If you cut into the sphere further then that you will remove too much causing more and more material to be removed.

Step 10: Sand Sphere

Once round, sand the sphere smooth by following the same pattern of orienting the sphere through the three axis.

Step 11: Apply Finish and Admire Your Work

You can apply any finish you like. I used spray lacquer as it was easier than most anything else.

What are your favorite finishes? What tips and ideas do you have for making things out wooden spheres? Anything I missed?

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    18 Discussions

    It looks like a gas giant if you look closely.

    Beautiful! The fact that you included how to create the cups to make the job possible makes this 'ible even better!

    Great ideas! I love the geometry in a sphere, so simple yet so complicated! A bit of a mind-bender as well. I came across similar challenges when I was casting inside a sphere!


    Great job, thank you for sharing.


    21 days ago

    Gorgeous work :)

    If i had to guess, I'd say this must be for some type of puzzle or impossible object...

    2 replies

    Funny that you say that, because I've had an idea for making another interestngly useless wooden impossible object, this time with a wooden ball. I need to be able to make one without a lathe though. Wooden balls on eBay are expensive!

    Not a puzzle or impossible object actually. But it will definitely be in the 'play' category. :) Unfortunately I'm away from the shop for the next two weeks. So it'll probably be around three weeks until it's finished and published.

    An interesting way to make a sphere. If you wanted to make smaller perfect spheres you could try the sharpened tube way of finishing it to round. I am not sure what diameter sphere is the largest to try.

    2 replies

    The "sharpened tube way of finishing it to round"? Where can we find out more about this, have not heard of it. Thanks.

    I wish I had a lathe...very nice work sir!

    I don't own a lathe but enjoyed your process. There's something about a smoothly turned wood sphere that intrigues the eye.



    23 days ago

    I like this. I have to give this a try. Thanks for the post and helpful ideas.

    Nice one and clever technique;) I will definitely make some of those soon. Thanks for sharing and good luck on competition!

    I have such an admiration for the photography in your instructables! keep up the amazing work!