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Playing with the sphere tool (Read 440 times)
 
Robert Hayward
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Playing with the sphere tool
Sep 7th, 2020 at 8:41pm
 
In the box with the pen blanks the other day were four 3" diameter hard maple rounds/dowels about 12" long. These were from an original large flat rate box full of them. They were cutoffs from a production shop. He had hundreds of them for the cost of a flat rate box. Wish I would have gotten a bunch more. I have made a bunch of tiny birdhouses and lidded boxes.

Had not used the Vermec sphere jig in ages and people just love to hold these finished balls and spin/turn them in their hands. They end up about 2 3/4" diameter. I need about 4 1/2" of the rough round to chuck it and have clearance for the Vermec. So I can get only two balls out of one dowel.

The one in the pictures has some tiny tear out so I going to shellac it and start sanding again. This before I thin the neck and part it off.
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Mike Peace
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Re: Playing with the sphere tool
Reply #1 - Sep 8th, 2020 at 7:28am
 
I have a jig but prefer turning spheres without. Doing a workshop for a few members of my club on turning these as the sphere is the President's challenge this month.
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Ed Weber
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Re: Playing with the sphere tool
Reply #2 - Sep 8th, 2020 at 8:25am
 
If you're doing one or two, turning freehand is fine,
If you need to make several for a matched set like croquet balls, then a sphere tool is the way to go.
JMO
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Robert Hayward
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Re: Playing with the sphere tool
Reply #3 - Sep 8th, 2020 at 2:26pm
 
Mike those are nice looking spheres. I like the little bases you have for them.
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robo_hippy
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Re: Playing with the sphere tool
Reply #4 - Sep 9th, 2020 at 11:09am
 
Well, I will disagree with Ed a bit here... I have a friend who makes a bunch of the smaller diameter ones, about 1 to 1 1/2 inch diameter. He can turn them faster than the set up time involved with the jig, and for sure, practice makes for perfect, or at least a little better... I would expect that if you want exact perfect size like for tournament croquette, then maybe a jig is the way to go.

Mike, on your bases, one thing I discovered by accident, if you make the arc of the base just a hair more shallow than the arc of the sphere, then the sphere can spin in place. I was at a show and some one asked me, 'how come this one spins, and the rest don't?' Accidents make for interesting inventions. Too shallow and they might spin off...

robo hippy
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Ed Weber
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Re: Playing with the sphere tool
Reply #5 - Sep 9th, 2020 at 1:17pm
 

I agree with you Reed, if you turn spheres, practice makes perfect and a jig may be more problematic to use.
My point is that from what I've seen, the majority of times in sphere making is the final shaping/sanding to get the perfect shape.
A perfect circle or perfect sphere is difficult for most people to achieve freehand, whether it's drawing or cutting or whatever. A jig can get the rough work done quickly and accurately so that the only thing left to do is the smoothing. If I had to make a matched set or a high number I would opt for a jig.
Also, most people are one side dominate. Turning the right half of the sphere may be easy but the left side may prove more difficult (kinda like throwing a ball)
There are lots of different methods/techniques and jigs for turning spheres.
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Mike Peace
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Re: Playing with the sphere tool
Reply #6 - Sep 9th, 2020 at 2:32pm
 
Robert Hayward wrote on Sep 8th, 2020 at 2:26pm:
Mike those are nice looking spheres. I like the little bases you have for them.

Thanks, my younger granddaughter loves spinning them on the base.
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robo_hippy
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Re: Playing with the sphere tool
Reply #7 - Sep 10th, 2020 at 11:27am
 
One interesting thing I learned about sphere turning, from my friend Rudy, who sold me my first lathe, was that when he turned between cup centers, he would spin it by hand first to check for how true it was running, and gently tap it into a better centered position before turning up the speed. Makes sense because mine never seemed to center close to perfect all by themselves. I would expect it to be necessary when sanding as well.

Best sphere I ever saw was one that Alan Batty did. It was out of ivory. He did about a 2 inch diameter hollow sphere with 12 holes in it, like the spots on a soccer ball. On the inside of that sphere was a threaded ivory sphere box....

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Ed Weber
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Re: Playing with the sphere tool
Reply #8 - Sep 10th, 2020 at 12:01pm
 
robo_hippy wrote on Sep 10th, 2020 at 11:27am:
One interesting thing I learned about sphere turning, from my friend Rudy, who sold me my first lathe, was that when he turned between cup centers, he would spin it by hand first to check for how true it was running, and gently tap it into a better centered position before turning up the speed. Makes sense because mine never seemed to center close to perfect all by themselves. I would expect it to be necessary when sanding as well.


That sounds a lot like how I see the Japanese turners true up their pieces before turning. You'll see them lightly mount and tap here and there before "setting" the piece in the jam chuck.
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Robert Fischer
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Re: Playing with the sphere tool
Reply #9 - Sep 10th, 2020 at 3:39pm
 
Mike Peace wrote on Sep 8th, 2020 at 7:28am:
I have a jig but prefer turning spheres without.

Which reminded me of your video a few years back demonstrating this: Multimedia File Viewing and Clickable Links are available for Registered Members only!!  You need to Login or Register
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Ed Weber
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Re: Playing with the sphere tool
Reply #10 - Sep 10th, 2020 at 5:17pm
 
I actually make many sphereish shapes when making my Xmas ornaments.These pieces are all stand alone and don't have to be geometrically perfect for their use. Many times you don't want them to be perfect for reasons of proportions and esthetics. I don't use a jig for this reason. As Reed mentioned, you can do it without a jig but practice makes perfect.
In the photo, the birch globe on the right is a perfect sphere, the others are obviously not.
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Don R Davis
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Re: Playing with the sphere tool
Reply #11 - Oct 13th, 2020 at 7:44pm
 
Ed, they sure are pretty.  Cool
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Ed Weber
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Re: Playing with the sphere tool
Reply #12 - Oct 13th, 2020 at 8:58pm
 
Thanks Don, just showing what else you can do with spheres
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John Grace
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Re: Playing with the sphere tool
Reply #13 - Oct 15th, 2020 at 10:14am
 
Ed Weber wrote on Sep 10th, 2020 at 5:17pm:
I actually make many sphereish shapes when making my Xmas ornaments.


I really like what you've created there.  Question...do you hollow out the spheres or leave the 'solid'?
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Ed Weber
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Re: Playing with the sphere tool
Reply #14 - Oct 15th, 2020 at 12:04pm
 
I hollow them out. I usually attempt to get them down to 2 oz, or as close as I can.
They do still need to be handled, packed away each holiday, so making them too thin (fragile) isn't a good idea. IMO
My 2 oz rule was really only for live trees, as not to weigh down the branches. These days with artificial trees, weight isn't much of an issue, though I still try to keep them as light as possible
In the photo the center one is 2 oz and the end two are 2 1/8 oz each
I use modified wooden cole jaws to hold them when hollowing.
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