My first turned item - A sphere

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Established Member
9 Dec 2015
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Well in the spirit of this recent encouragement to show more work, here is the first thing I turned.
Before Christmas I was avoiding the workshop while trying to let an elbow injury heal, but I got so desperate to get in there and do something that I decided to have a play with the cheap mini lathe that my brother had palmed off on me. My thinking was that standing still while holding a gouge would probably be alright on the elbow, which it was.
I used an unknown piece of firewood from my dad's woodpile that had mostly light wood with a dark centre that I thought might look interesting. There was a ton of rot on the outside, the original piece was probably 8 inches around and the finished sphere is under 4 inches!
The tiny lathe was awful with no torque at all, pretty much a child's toy and the set of included tools were possibly worse, but I really enjoyed the process. I only had centres or a screw plate thing to work with so I turned a shallow cup shape that I mounted on the screw plate and made another cup to sit over the tailstock centre. (I'm playing fast and loose with technical terms that I know very little about, I apologise) With 2 cups I could keep altering the orientation of the sphere, the best tip I heard was from Frank Howarth who said to just take the high points off before changing orientation, it's almost uncanny how a sphere appears! I got a LOT of catches, probably a combo of low speed, blunt tools and soft, partly rotted wood, and there is evidence of a couple of catches on the finished thing, I just couldn't bring myself to make it any smaller! In fact I took the last coupe of millimetres off with sandpaper on a block, held like a turning tool. It made a lot of dust and i'm sure is entirely frowned upon but with the tools at hand it was the best I could manage.
I finished with a bit of danish oil, it being the only thing I had to hand.

Unfortunately 2 days of living the high life in a centrally heated house caused this:

But regardless I gave it to my dad for Christmas (it was from his log pile after all) in a little box made of offcuts and he loved it. The box was designed to be broken apart for kindling but he liked that and kept it too!
The end result was far from perfect but I enjoyed making it so much that I went straight out and bought a proper Axminster lathe from a user on here!
I'm looking forward to getting some half decent tools and having some more fun!
What a great start on the journey of turning, the result is pretty darn good with the equipment you describe, things can only improve with the better lathe, tools and technique, bet Dad is proper chuffed with the sphere, which as anyone who has tried knows, are not an easy project. Keep it up.

Well done on the sphere. You have already found out the problem about partialy dried wood and then taking it into a centrally heated house. The Oak vase I just posted was from a tree cut down in November last year and was soaking wet still when I turned it, but by turning it thin to the finished item it has moved a little.
I(f you want to make bowls from wet wood then rough turn thicker than the finish item and seal the outside(that is my method) and leave for 1 year that way you can turn it quicker than if it was say a 3" thick piece which would take 3-4 years to dry.
By the sound of it you had a great time. You will soon want to get something bigger and as you say better tools, don't forget the sharpening system.
Carry on enjoying this great hobby and keep posting you end results
As said sphere's are [for most of us] difficult, yours is very good.
Also, the crack due to drying is good experience, but IMHO it can enhance the look of some pieces. I think it looks good on yours.
Great effort, not many turners would be willing for their first efforts at turning a ball to public scrutiny.

Don't fret about using abrasive for final contouring if this is what is needed, it's a cutting tool, nobody will be any the wiser once an item is finished.
As time goes by you will get nearer you desired shape and finish without using so much of it but in the mean time it's more important to get lathe time under your belt.
You will be pleasantly surprised at the difference between using your cr@p lathe / tools and quality kit. Now you have had a taste of turning you will probably find there's no ( turning ) back
Wow, thanks for all the positive comments, it's much appreciated!
I wasn't going to post anything about the sphere as I didn't think it was anything special but it's great to get so much feedback about it. :D
I'd be proud to have turned that today let alone as my first attempt. Well done.
There's nothing you can do about the cracking, it's just a fact of life.
If you are feeling brave, you could fill the crack with coffee grounds & superglue & turn the excess off using cup centres but spheres are notorious for warping & not running true when remounted.
That's what I like to see Dan. Someone wot starts with the easy stuff :shock: :shock: :shock:

I am very impressed with it and the crack just adds a bit more character, besides which you knew and planned for that didn't you :roll: Well done mate!

Try a sphere in a cube. It isn't as difficult as it looks, but the finished job looks amazing. This is one that I prepared earlier


You will find that turning is a very slippery slope and difficult to get away from, I hope I don't anyway!!
Jonzjob":8znqi7ga said:
Try a sphere in a cube. It isn't as difficult as it looks, but the finished job looks amazing.

Well that's my next turning project planned then! Unfortunately I'll have to buy a bit more hardware to be able to do it, what a shame...
Sheffield Tony":3q07h9q6 said:
That unkown wood wouldn't be some kind of Eucalyptus would it ? Very prone to splitting whatever you do.

It could be, it was from a pile of firewood that I didn't split so I've no clue as to it's origins and I don't have the first clue when it comes to identifying wood!