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  • Ball turning question.

    This question came up, how to turn balls, and I have never turned just balls as such, but have turned balls as part of other objects, like scoops that are hollowed, where the ball has to be correct and only a small area is not turned away, like these, but no they are not true balls,

    Click image for larger version  Name:	scoops.jpg Views:	0 Size:	28.9 KB ID:	1281218Click image for larger version  Name:	scoop.jpg Views:	0 Size:	28.8 KB ID:	1281219 .
    I would make a jig, something like these if I wanted to turn a bunch of balls, where these are held between centers, I would hold the blank in a chuck so that I could go around the end, and only have to cleanup or turn the other end after parting that off, held between two cup like driver and center pieces it is easy to turn the stub off.

    Click image for larger version  Name:	ballturn jig.jpg Views:	0 Size:	51.9 KB ID:	1281220Click image for larger version  Name:	ballturnjig.jpg Views:	0 Size:	36.3 KB ID:	1281221

    I could purchase one, and the best one around is the Vermec sphere turning jig, and yes not cheap ;-)), a video to go with it helps for sure.

    It shows the positioning of the jig is important, where the jig sits right at center under the wood, and the cutter is exactly at center height.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoTsNwxD0uc

    Click image for larger version  Name:	The Vermec sphere turning jig.jpg Views:	0 Size:	21.5 KB ID:	1281222

    And then there is the hard way, or maybe not really, just some practice, good luck.

    https://www.docgreenwoodturner.com/turnspherefour.html

    And then if you like more choices, just Google “Ball turning jigs” and there are all kinds to make or buy.

    For those that have been turning balls, input is asked for, Happy turning
    Last edited by Leo Van Der Loo; 05-02-2020, 01:19 AM.

    Have fun and take care
    Leo Van Der Loo
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  • #2

    Re: Ball turning question.

    Leo, you've probably seen this already -- it's kind of a YouTube classic by now. This fellow's simple ball turning jig would be pretty easy to replicate in a home shop.

    https://youtu.be/gNCT7Yu-oRc

    My Wadkin RU from the NRC in Ottawa came with both convex and concave radius turning jigs -- big ones -- that they fabricated in the shop, plus a massive 4' long cross-slide extension for huge workpieces. I haven't tried them yet, but I will someday. I think they turned airfoil mockups or something like that with it. Theoretically I could turn a 3' diameter sphere on the thing if I drank sufficient courage beforehand and had a need for the world's biggest bowling ball. But whatever the size the setup is pretty basic.

    I don't have a very good eye for shape while I turn, but a few weeks ago I was goofing around with a block of firewood on my General 260 and this little guy, duly christened "Pandemic Piggy", appeared between centres, a gift for a little girl who'd come out the other side of a bout with Covid-19. The few times I've turned spheres freehand and wanted them good or consistent I've used one of those cheap plastic contour gauges. Not very efficient, but helpful. Anyway, it's something I want to get good at.
    beachburl and Coop42 like this.

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    • #3

      Re: Ball turning question.

      This guy does demo on utube http://www.armadillowoodworks.com/index.html Go to his demos, I have found it good to have a vacuum chuck although if you get down in wall thickness it sucks the air through the wood
      Last edited by bkrits; 05-03-2020, 08:48 PM. Reason: my quality spelling

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      • #4

        Re: Ball turning question.

        Originally posted by Greg_Hansen61 View Post
        Leo, you've probably seen this already -- it's kind of a YouTube classic by now. This fellow's simple ball turning jig would be pretty easy to replicate in a home shop.

        https://youtu.be/gNCT7Yu-oRc

        My Wadkin RU from the NRC in Ottawa came with both convex and concave radius turning jigs -- big ones -- that they fabricated in the shop, plus a massive 4' long cross-slide extension for huge workpieces. I haven't tried them yet, but I will someday. I think they turned airfoil mockups or something like that with it. Theoretically I could turn a 3' diameter sphere on the thing if I drank sufficient courage beforehand and had a need for the world's biggest bowling ball. But whatever the size the setup is pretty basic.

        I don't have a very good eye for shape while I turn, but a few weeks ago I was goofing around with a block of firewood on my General 260 and this little guy, duly christened "Pandemic Piggy", appeared between centres, a gift for a little girl who'd come out the other side of a bout with Covid-19. The few times I've turned spheres freehand and wanted them good or consistent I've used one of those cheap plastic contour gauges. Not very efficient, but helpful. Anyway, it's something I want to get good at.
        Not familiar with that turner Greg, but it is a very similar way of turning balls, The Belgian billiard ball makers from Ivory did this for a long time, though not anymore of course.

        I love that pandemic Piggy, and I see I’m not the only one , I have always turned the sphere parts by hand/eye, and use callipers to get close, and then finish just by eye, it takes practice to not make ovals and the callipers help to get there, it is all fun and a challenge, it does keep turning fun

        Have fun and take care
        Leo Van Der Loo

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        • #5

          Re: Ball turning question.

          Originally posted by bkrits View Post
          This guy does demo on utube http://www.armadillowoodworks.com/index.html Go to his demos, I have found it good to have a vacuum chuck although if you get down in wall thickness it sucks the air through the wood
          He Bob, thanks.
          It must be a challenge if all your wood has splits and parts missing , but that good Dutch name turner with a Perfect Large Oneway Lathe does make some nice and interesting turnings that’s for sure.

          Bob I do have a vacuum pump and made some chucks, but never use it, when I rough turn wet green wood I don’t need it, and when I return the dried pieces, it’s too much of a hassle to try center and mount the warped bowls as it just won’t seal, plus the wood leakage problems, I have developed a different way to hold my turnings and am used to doing it that way, kind of set in my ways I guess .

          These are two pictures from when I did a trial run with the Thomas pump and held a small bowl, it worked but I’ve not needed to use it, so it’s stashed somewhere in my shop

          Click image for larger version  Name:	Thomas pump.jpg Views:	0 Size:	46.3 KB ID:	1281533Click image for larger version  Name:	it worked.jpg Views:	0 Size:	53.4 KB ID:	1281534
          Last edited by Leo Van Der Loo; 05-03-2020, 11:20 PM.

          Have fun and take care
          Leo Van Der Loo

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          • #6

            Re: Ball turning question.

            Originally posted by bkrits View Post
            This guy does demo on utube http://www.armadillowoodworks.com/index.html Go to his demos, I have found it good to have a vacuum chuck although if you get down in wall thickness it sucks the air through the wood
            I slap some quick-drying finish on the side/area where I'm not working to seal it better. For my bowl turnings, a vacuum chuck is all I ever use now but like everything else in turning it isn't the only way and it doesn't work for everything.
            After truing up the warped inside, I use a Oneway adapter on my live centre to mount the chuck with the bowl still attached for easy centering.
            billh

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            • Thread Continues Below...

            • #7

              Re: Ball turning question.

              I too have never done more than the odd sphere and as Leo says, incorporating into a spindle. The berceau or cradle at the link below had part of one (more or less) on the end posts. I was going through some spindle stuff I have downloaded and archived and came across something from Jon Siegle, a respected turner in New England. Went to his website and found this article. https://static1.squarespace.com/stat...2/inSearch.pdf The process does include an element I have not noticed before by any turner. He does not picture his final holding jig but not too difficult to figure out. Dick Gerard, one of the founding members of the AAW has been posting spheres or more commonly called balls for years. They are a popular item for turners that sell through galleries as a basic income item.
              Last edited by Mike Brazeau; 05-08-2020, 10:47 AM.
              Mike
              www.picturetrail.com/mikebrazeau

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              • #8

                Re: Ball turning question.

                Thanks Mike, I had a look at and downloaded the article for future examination. I am making new walnut, cherry and brass vise handle ends for my workbench because I was never satisfied with the old ones. Once the new ones are made and the vise hardware is painted, I will show some pictures of "the board pile" as I came to call it as I was making it.

                I think that I have sufficient ideas now to get it done! Thanks to everyone who contributed.

                Ken
                Last edited by KenL; 05-08-2020, 12:34 PM. Reason: Typo

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