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Carving a ball on the end of a stick

7064 Views 7 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  Sean
I'm thinking of carving my own ball on the end of a stick. I've never tried anything like it, and so I'm trying to think through the steps before hand.

It seems to me that the first thing would be to demarcate the top (easy) and bottom of the ball. Then I'd probably want to saw a groove at the bottom of the ball close to the depth I want.

I'd then start taking out material from the "equator" of the ball up and down towards the "poles".

It seems like I'd want to take small bits off while continuously rotating to help ensure it's even.

I'm I thinking about this correctly? Anything I'm missing? Anything I should keep in mind? Tips? Tricks?


What's I'm actually thinking of doing is starting with a much thicker stick, carving the ball, then cutting it off the big stick, and attaching it to a thinner stick for a walking cane.
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You plan sounds pretty good.

Here's what I can offer. After the stick is smoothed to a cylinder, trace the top. transfer the circle to some card stock. Cut it in half, and then cut out the half circles to form profiles that can be used to see how close the wood shape is getting to round as the carving progresses. After that, to save some time, I cut the top to half an octagonal profile. From there, I remove smaller amounts. I haven't sawed into the bottom, for fear of going to far, and so the bottom portion is mostly just chipping away.

On my first attempt, when I was still working thru how to seal and season the stick ends, I was about half way done when the splits opened up at the top. Since then, I've tried to have enough extra stick that I can cut the ends away before I start finial work.

Hopefully I won't have to worry about checks and splits. The wood has been sitting inside for a few years now. It was the too thick end of the maple tree I used to make my Dad's cane. It's about 2.75" in diameter. Should make for a good sized ball.
You are welcome.

I spent a good while looking at your blog today. If your sticks turn out as well as your workbench project, they should be quite fine.

I'm amazed how nice your spare bedroom/shop was. At best, my work spaces tend to look like a dump that at least had a broom taken to it, and all the tools more or less in a pile.

I've been cutting thicker sticks, a few maybe even 2.75" diameter. I like that I have enough volume for more sculptural carving. Altho. littleknife's link to D. Stehly's work, where he used logs big enough that he could cut coiled snakes that joined the remaining stick is well beyond what I think I will attempt.
I started to work on it last night, I actually got some shop time, miracle of miracles. The trunk is rather oval in shape, so I'll be shooting for an oval sphere. We'll see how well it works. All I was able to do last night was clean up my bench a bit, cut the stick where I wanted to work (trim off a knot at the end), de-bark a bit with a draw knife and mark the lower limit of the ball.

I might even get to work a bit tonight, and if so, I'll start with taking off the corners to start getting a rounded shape.

I don't have any carving tools, but I do have some nice sharp bench chisels of various sizes and a couple of rasps: rough and cabinet. That should be enough to at least try it. We'll see if I can get some pictures of the process in case any one's interested.
got to a pretty good state. Still more smoothing and shaping to be done, but it was actually pretty simple. Altogether I've put in about 3 hours. I put up some photos in a gallery including one with the tools used so far.


My next steps will be to figure out what I want to do below the ball. Do I want to finish carving and cut it off and add to the top of another stick, do I want to actually use the rest of this stick (a lot more work) or just leave this as a trial version and try this on an existing stick?

it was a lot easier than I thought. It feels quite good, but there's still work to make it look as good as it feels.
Looking good. I'm sure it was pleasant to get back into your shop. I suppose your decision about cutting the ball off and placing it on existing stick vs. finishing the whole of the current shaft will depend a lot on time. If the unfinished portion of the ball stick is long enough, at least 36", after the ball is off, you will still have stock ready to go when you find more time.

At present, I find that I can get a lot of works done just w. rasps, files and rifflers. But I find that a few of my small hand gouges come in very handy quite often.
Good luck with it, looking forward to seeing it finished.
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