Ball Turner

Some time back I watched a video on you tube of someone turning a ball on a small lathe, what a novel idea but never considered making one until recently. I can see some benefits other than turning balls so I began looking for some sort of print to build one. No prints that I could find so I decided to build one on the fly using elements of what the internet offered in pictures. I have a friend that has his own machining business and I get his bar ends so with free materials in hand (if it doesn’t cost anything it makes it that much better) off we go. I have to mention that I lost some pictures so some operations won’t be shown; I tried to clear them up but was unable.

I had saved the original cross slide from my S.B. which came in handy for measuring and fitting the dovetail portion of this ball turner, shown in the pic is what I started with, sorry about the pic being blurry but it is the best I could do.

Raw materials

I guess the next major purchase will be a power hacksaw, you will see why as we go, the stock is pretty good size and requires a lot of turning to get to this point. I contemplated using a ball bearing in the base but scrapped that idea and went with a metal to metal shielded base instead, just keep it well oiled.

The two main pieces of the body

The next pic I took a 4 ½ inch round, turned it to ½ inch thick then began to whittle away. Slice a piece off with a hacksaw, mill it flat, and mill one end to square the bottom with one side. Rather than using the hacksaw for the rest I decided to cut it out with the mill until I ended up with this L shaped piece for the cutter bar, this was copied from several different designs.

Beginnings of the cutter bar

Shaping cutter bar

Roughed out cutter bar

This is where I lost some pictures, this is the only one that turned out is after the ½ inch slot was milled thru the center, the side milled off so it can be drilled and tapped for set-screws to hold the cutter bar. The handle needed to be drilled and tapped at what I determined a 5 degree angle up so when turning your hand isn’t hitting the cross slide. I made a mock set-up of how I accomplished that, 2 pieces of aluminum opposite of each other to wedge the turret in the vise at an angle, it took some tinkering to find what would give me a 5 degree angle.

Slot milled, machined turret so the holes for set screws could be drilled/taped

 

Shims to drill hole at 5% angle for handle

How I accomplished holding the work at 5% angle

Next I had to find my centerline so the inserts could be milled at center height; I marked the cutter bar with a center in the tail stock, milled it and rechecked, marked the hole locations, drilled and tapped for screws. Next the relief for the inserts was milled on the cutter bar; I did this last so I could adjust for any misalignment from drilling/tapping the insert holes. This may not be the correct way to do things but working without dimensions and a print it sure is much easier.

 

Establishing center line

 

Inserts installed ready for contouring

 

Contouring

Finished contour for cutter relief

Here are all the parts that make up the Ball Turner, I did drill an oil hole in the cutter bar slot so the base doesn’t have to be dissembled to lubricate. I am still experimenting with what lube to use between the mating surfaces, but so far 30 weight oil seems to work quite well.

 

All components

The first turning, at this point I am impressed on how it cuts, better than what I had expected.

 

Trial run

Last item on the agenda, seeing that rusting is a problem in most environments and storage is a problem for all the parts it really needs a case. I had just enough scrap Walnut to put this box together, a rusty piano hinge and a couple discarded latches. In the bottom the 2 rods are mandrels that were made, one for ¼-20 thread and the other 3/8-16, these were in another pic that I lost.

 

Fitted case

Completed project

Thanks for looking……… 

 

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2 thoughts on “Ball Turner

  1. Wow Rick, thought I had read all your posts/projects. THis one is way cool and I gotta love your anal retentive approach to these projects. You definitly believe in doing it right the first time. Awesome tooling job..

    Rod

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