How To Make A Box For Turning

In the last posts, I outlined the method of mounting and turning  a hollow wooden ball.  Going backwards a little, these are the basic order of events that I use to make the box for turning.

I just finished a run of 8 balls made out of woods of different thicknesses. Using the proportion formula that I came up with (see last post), I made a list of the finished box size for each one. I sanded the interior face of each board to 220 grit and gave it 2 sanded coats of Seal Coat shellac followed by paste wax. I also gave the exterior face a seal coat to help keep the board as flat as possible. Using a glue joint rip blade, I sawed a 45-degree bevel along one edge, leaving the width slightly wider than the finished box. I like to keep track of the pieces so that I can align the grain when I glue up the box. Each board was numbered and then square rough cut to length on the miter saw.

From there I go to the table saw with a dedicated sled for 45 degrees. It is very important to be on the money with the bevel angle as there is no fitting done after the sawing. Each piece gets an adjacent bevel cut as shown in the right hand pile above. All the different boxes get this first cut on the sled. After this is done, a stop is set up and the other 2 cut are made for each box size. Accuracy is key so make sure all cuts are true 45 and square to each other.

Assemble the pieces in order, buff out the waxed face and sign one of the interior faces at this time.

I then layout 4 of the 6 pieces in order face up and tape their edges together, keeping them lined up against a straight edge. Flipping over this grouping, I use a toothbrush to apply glue (Titebond III) to all the joining edges. Since I align the pieces with the grain, these joints are all end grain so make sure you don’t end up with a dry joint. I coat them once and then go back and apply a light coat again. Fold the box closed and press and tape the last joining edges together, making sure that the top & bottom edges align. Glue the top and bottom in using the same procedure and taping in place. Do not press either piece in to hard, as they will wedge the box apart. I orient the grain of the top and bottom in the same direction. I start with 3 quick action clamps, tightening each one a little in turns so as not to spread the other joints. Look over your joints carefully and add opposing clamps as necessary. Remember that only a small amount of the gluejoint will remain in the end, the most important part being at the short point of the miter. I don’t touch any of the glue squeeze out on the interior of the box as it pops out later after turning.

Some of the balls from this run in the finish room.

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18 Responses

Your Comments
Hi,
I am very interested in trying to make one of these square balls… would you help me in telling me a good size to start off with? and some pointers in the process..

thank you so much,

Pastor Gary

Gary, If you look at the post on Ball Geometry, there are 2 formulas for the size of the ball based on your material thickness or viceversa. 3 – 4″ would probably be a good place to start. You may want to turn a ball out of a solid piece of wood first, laminated for size, to practice the method. Start with a square piece of wood and locate the exact centers to mount your lathe attachment points. Locating and setting of the attachment points are critical. When you are doing a hollow ball. if you are off center the holes will not be even. The initial turning on solid wood is like spindle turning but on a hollow box, you have both long grain and face grain as you turn the cylinder to rough ball form. Adjust your techniques accordingly.. When you change the orientation of the centers for the 2nd turning, it is really important to accurately recenter in relation to your pencil line center as shown in the photos in the ball method post. I used a dial indicator to center. Measuring off the steady rest would be another way. When doing a hollow ball, I used cabinet shelf liner, a rubber pad, to put between the cup centers and the ball to help increase the friction for holding the ball. The glue joints in the hollow ball at this pint are very small so you can’t apply much pressure with the tailstock or you will break the ball. Sharp tools and light cuts to get rid of the bump at the original mounting points is important as it is easy to have a catch and either knock it off center or blow up the ball.. After turning as close to round as you can, make a felted curved sanding block to fit your radius, start sanding with 80-120 grit depending on the wood and your level of roundness. Not knowing your skill level it is hard for me to know how much information to give you so try it out and send me some specific questions and I will try to help you out in a timely manner. Practice, practice, practice and have Fun!
Jeff

05.20.11

Your Comments
Jeff,

Just to let you know.. I have a 12X36 Jet lathe, I have made solid balls before, and have done pretty good..
I have a 8 inch sears table saw.. with a carbide blade, I made a box with out a sled, it was just against the rip fence.., and turned it round.. My joints are not that great.. so I will follow the directions better next time..

I have a friend that has a delta 10 or 12 inch and it is very acurate. So I will try to have him cut some for me and try that..

I belong to the local Woodturners group and have been learning a lot from the other guys..

I really like projects like this.. it challenges the mind..

Thanks for your help.. I think if I get my joints better.. I will do better..

Pastor Gary

05.20.11

Hi Jeff,

Other than the 45 degrree angle, I am close.. but I am not seeing or getting any Triangles or openings… My wood is 3/4 inch and I am making them out of cherry wood.

Can you share what I am doing wrong? and could you share some of your research on wood thickness, and a good way to get and check out the angle on my saw??

I have a 45 degree triangle, also I have one of those small boxes that electronicly tell you the angle of the saw blade..( But so far.. neither one is producing the right angle.

Thanks for you help..

The Student..

Gary

05.20.11

Your Comments

Jeff,

I think I forgot to tell you.. the balls are coming out with no holes, and or triangles.

They are just solid other than the cracks at the joints… but that I believe is due to the angle of 45 not being quit right..

Gary

Gary, In the post on ball geometry there is this formula that I developed by trial and error that gives the relationship of wood thickness to ball diameter and vice versa. If your wood is 3/4″ in thickness (.750″) then according to the formula (wood thickness /.173 = ball diameter). So .75″/.173 = 4.34″ or 4 5/16″. What size is your ball? Conversely. if you want an 8″ ball. then your wood thickness would have to be 8″(.173)= 1.38″ or 1 3/8″ +-. As for cutting accurate 45 degree mitres. It would be helpful to have a blade that will cut both with and across the grain and be very sharp. A straight cross cut or rip is not the best options. When I prep the original material I use a glue line rip blade and then switch to a thin kerf miter saw blade. I cut my pieces with a crosscut sled dedicated for 45 degree blade angle. The best way I have found to check the angle is to cut 2 test cuts on separate pieces and check to see if they form a 90 degree angle when held together. Adjust a necessary regardless of what any of your angle finders say. Your cuts on the real pieces need to be sawn at the right pace for your blade and material with no hesitation and your energy directed at keeping the piece flat to the sled or saw table. Look carefully at your cuts to make sure that you have no saw marks from the back of the blade. There are many little details along the way that are important. Keep after it and let me know how you are doing. Jeff

Gary, I forgot to add that even if the miter angle is right on 45, your pieces need to be right on square for the program to work. Another detail to pay attention to. Carry on. Jeff

05.20.11

Your Comments
Jeff,

So, my wood is 3/4 thick, which is .750
So you take .750/.173= 4.335 or 4 5/16th right?

Maybe that is why I do not have any triangles…

let me know..

How would you figure for just a 3 inch ball??

Gary

Gary, according to the formula, ball diameter X .173 = wood thickness. 3″ X .173 =.519″ or approx 1/2″. That will make a ball with big triangles and small glue lines. be careful in your final stages of turning as the ball does not have much strength.
Good Luck Jeff

Your Comments
Jeff,

Sorry for not getting it before.. I am seeing it better now..

Would it be better to go with 5/8 wood instead of 1/2 for the 3 inch ball?

I will try it.. this week end..

Will let you know..

Thanks again..

GAry

05.20.11

Your Comments
Jeff,
how did you come up with .173 just wondering.

Gary

Gary, The first ball I made the holes were very small so I looked at the relationship between wood thickness and ball diameter as per the drawing in the post on ball geometry. The next one I made the holes were about right so i found the proportional relationship between the wood thickness to the ball diameter. That number, by trial and error, turned out to be .173. That number allows for slight overturning and sanding, all of which play into how big the holes end up being. These are all hand made and they all very slightly. As for making the ball out of 5/8″ material instead of 1/2″, your holes will be smaller. According to the formula, 5/8″ / .173 = 3 5/8″. Maybe split the difference and make the ball approx 3 3/8″. Good luck and carry on. Jeff

05.20.11

Jeff,

Well, I tried to make a box/Ball 2.5 inch.

I got it made and than the ball came apart when I was about to go to sanding.. God it to hot and the glue got soft..

I also think that that size is to small to do it..

I took 2.5inch X .173= .4325 I went with 1/2 inch thickness of wood.. (I still did not get any diamonds IN THE CORNERS..), it was solid..

When You said to use a GLUE JOINT SAW BLADE.. ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT A PLANNER TABLE SAW BLADE..???

LEARNING THE HARD WAY…

GARY

Gary, I made a ball that is 2 3/4″ and the material thickness measures about 7/16″ and the holes are pretty big. If you are not getting holes, make the ball sized as per the formula for the wood that you have. As you wrote, 2 1/2″ X .173 = 7/16 (.433″) so you can see that the smaller the ball, small changes in material thickness have a greater effect then if the ball were larger. What glue are you using and do you let it cure for 24 hrs before turning? The ball should not get that hot in the turning process. Did you have a catch when the ball came apart? What type of lathe tools are you using to turn with? When you are sanding you definitely have to be careful of heat build up. Carry on and keep after it. You will only fail if you give up. Jeffrey

05.20.11

Jeff,

I am using Titebond glue. and yes, I let the glue cure for at lease for 24 hours. No catches, the ball just got hot.. I am using crapper, and ball making jig on my lathe. I was just to the sanding stage when It came apart..

I will try it again and go with 1/2 inch wood thickness.. So with that, I will see if it works..

Please tell me about the Glue Joint saw blade.. is that a planner blade for the table saw???

My angles are a lot better..but, maybe I should be doing something that I am not doing..

Gary

Gary, A glue joint rip blade has a special grind that gives a smoother cut than a normal rip. Most of all the planer saw blades I remember were HSS hollow ground blades. I don’t know the answer to that question. I take it a “crapper” is a scraper and if so try taking very light cuts and make sure you keep it sharp. Make the ball 2 7/8″ for 1/2″ material. Carry on and keep turning. Jeffrey

05.20.11

Your Comments
Jeff, thanks for the come back.. I am Trying my best to understand, and make a ball or two with the holes in them.

I was wondering if you would cut out a box/ball for me and I will pay you and the postage to send them to me.?? So I have something to look at.
let me know what the postage is..

Sorry for being a problem child.. But I think these are so neat that I would like to make one.

Thanks again..

Gary

05.20.11

Your Comments
Jeff,

Got the Link… thanks..

will try to do a bigger one… will let you know.. \

Gary

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