Circular Saw Cuts Balls… Wooden Balls, Don’t Worry

Wood Sphere made with circular saw

Ever wonder how wood spheres are made? Normally they are made on a wood lathe with some fancy jigs and fixtures. [Izzy Swan] set out to bring wood sphere manufacturing to the masses by designing an inexpensive machine that uses a standard circular saw to carve a block of wood into a sphere.

Here’s how it works: a piece of wood is held in a wood fixture and spun using a hand drill. The fixture and drill are mounted to a wooden ring that rotates about a perpendicular axis. The user manually moves the entire assembly back and forth about that second axis while spinning the drill. Meanwhile, a circular saw is moved closer and closer to the soon-to-be-sphere, nibbling away little by little. After most of the material has been cut from the block of wood, it is removed from the fixture and spun 90 degrees to cut the two remaining nubs. The end result is a pretty nice looking sphere.

Wood Sphere Finished

There isn’t much to this machine’s make up except stuff the average DIYer has kicking around the shop. If you’d like to make a wooden sphere but don’t have a circular saw or desire to lose a finger, no prob, check out this method that uses an orbital sander.

44 thoughts on “Circular Saw Cuts Balls… Wooden Balls, Don’t Worry

    1. I would expect a sander or grinder to be used in this setup, it’s quite odd to pick a circular saw seeing the sideway force and all – and the danger of the blade.
      Mind you if you used a grinder it would also pose danger and you’d have issues with the wood burning,, but you could use one with adjustable speed to fix that I tend to think.

    1. If you do not stick your fingers, or other body parts into spinning blades then you should stay fairly safe. Or you can go watch TV and leave using power tools to those of us who can handle it.

      1. That’s the dumbest thing I’ve read today – if you think your reflexes can save your fingers/hand/arm from a kickback, you’re either stupid or delusional.

          1. Proof that you’re lucky.

            Multiple, redundant safety features are the only way to keep you from having any accidents in the first place. Motor skills are not enough.

          2. Everytime i hear of a woodworker accident, it’s always older people that has bad habits like you. You are too confident. I may have half your age but I’ve learned to trade some confidence for respect, specially knowing so much people without all of their ten fingers. I hope you don’t take this as offensive and realize that it’s not about self-confidence.

      2. Ego issues? Eventually everyone makes a mistake. All it takes is one.

        It is okay. You are not less of a man if you accept your own physical limits. Oh, and isn’t it about time you backed up your files too?

      3. Sources of harm, electrical, mechanical, thermal, radiant etc.. to the human body can be avoided with three main prevention strategies 1) persuasion/education, 2) legal obligations (laws/standards), or 3) automatic mechanisms, such as machine guarding.
        Unsurprisingly, 3) is the most effective.
        I presume that you removed your unnecessary airbags, seatbelts, home ground fault interrupter, earth stake, hot water tempering valve and furnace flame out arrestor?

      4. …right up until the blade fractures and half of it flies off in a random direction at high speed… there’s a lot of energy in these rotary tools when they are powered up.

        1. When exactly has that ever happened to you? What kind of cheap off brand blades are you using anyways? I use cheap off brand blades sometimes myself and I’ve still never had it happen to me, or even ever heard about it happening to anyone else for that matter. I got 2 table saws, a radial arm saw, and a half a dozen circular saws too. So if it happened with fair frequency I certainly have plenty of opportunity for it to happen here for me.

          The pussies on this site never cease to entertain me I swear!

          1. It’s one thing to bravely confront risk to life and limb yourself and thumb your nose at gub-ern-mint safety regulations while at home, but the safety bar should be set higher if something like this is being set up in a hackerspace or public place where anyone, including someone’s kids, could potentially walk up to it and use it.
            It should also be pointed out that even in the absence of blade failure, tungsten carbide tips can come off or fracture.

          2. @pcf11: By your statement–that it never happend to you–I should, then, think that it would impossible for me or anyone to make a millon dollars, since I’ve never made a million dollars.
            Furthurmore, just because you use a tool does not make you an expert on said tool–regardless of how many years you’ve used it.

  1. I think HAD should just stop posting anything with a saw in it. Every single saw hack I’ve seen on here is so insanely dangerous… And this is coming from someone who does some pretty dangerous hacks.

  2. If everyone is concerned about educating the masses, how about citing specific examples of what he did unsafely; why it’s unsafe; how it could wrong; and perhaps provide suggestions on how to do it correctly, without using the “buy a mill” cop out. Without specific critiques, it will be tough for the inexperienced person to tell what parts were unsafe, i.e. surely everything he did wasn’t worthless to them…if the goal is to educate of course.

  3. I think something like this is best left to a woordworking lathe, and the “jig” would move a
    chisel tip against the spinning dowel–rather than moving the spinning dowel against a
    circular saw.
    Using a woodworking lathe, is/should be the defacto standard when you need to carve some
    special pattern in wood while it spins. (eg when carving a decorative lamp/table leg, or balls)

  4. Moreover, if you wanted to use Rich Bremer’s design (as is) — you could replace the circular saw with an appropriate woodworking lathe chisel–which would negate some, if not all of, the safety issues of high rpm saw blades.

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.