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Ball in a Ball

Discussion in 'Tutorials and Tips' started by hockenbery, Feb 20, 2020.

  1. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

    Apr 27, 2004
    Location (City & State):
    Lakeland, Florida
    Home Page:
    A ball in a ball is great fun. People try to figure out how?
    In the demo video I show how to turn a ball, hollow it to receive the smaller ball and then pop the smaller ball through the hole. There are also links to handouts I use in demos.

    dogwood large ball about 3”

    I got the idea for doing a ball in a ball in some conversations with David Springett and after thinking it over for 2-3 years I did one in 2005 two Osage orange balls.

    I haven’t found anyone doing this before 2005. However since the principle is the same as the mortis and tenon joint the bodger used in their green oak chairs, it seem likely someone would have done it. The small ball is pinged through a hole slightly smaller than its diameter just like the bulbous tenons of the bodgers were knocked into mortis drilled by a spoon bit which makes the mortise wider than its opening.

    Lower left is my first attempt from Osage Orange. Other two are camphor.
    A golf ball is a good choice for the small for your first attempt. You know it is round and it has a skin that slides through the hole nicely.

    I find lots of logo balls at flea markets.

    Most hardwoods work well. I have used pecan, cherry, red gum eucalyptus, bottle brush, Cuban mahogany, maple, and sweet gum as well as the Osage orange, dogwood, and camphor shown above.
    I finish all the balls before hollowing and assembling usually 3-4 coats of Waterlox . When I do 3 I put the smallest in the middle sized one then put the middle sized one in the largest. I use a Fibonacci ratio for sizing the balls like 1, 1.5, 2.5 Or 2,3,5. This ratio looks good to me.
    A straka chuck works great for holding the balls for hollowing. I also hollow the larger balls held a vacuum Chuck-got to be in you game - get to aggressive and you get a lesson in humility as aggressive hollowing can pull the ball off center in the vacuum Chuck.

    Turning a a ball hand out notes


    Turning the ball in a cup detail

    http://swat.hockenbery.net/turning the ball in the cup.pdf

    Ball in a ball Handout Notes

    http://aaw.hockenbery.net/A ball in a ball handout.pdf

    Simple way to make a Straka Chuck

    http://aaw.hockenbery.net/Making a straka Chuck.pdf

    Demo video - turning a ball and hollowing the ball to make the ball in a ball
    B&B Demo 2010 AAW symposium -
    View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmCvOP2Mpmw

    This video has been published with the permission of the American Association of Woodturners (AAW). The AAW and its journal, American Woodturner, are the foremost advocates for woodturning in the world. AAW members include professional woodturners and wood workers, amateurs, gallery owners, artists and collectors, and wood and tool suppliers. To learn more, visit AAW's website at:


    This video was first published on the 2010 techniques DVD made by
    Phil Pratt and produced by AAW.

    Last edited: Feb 21, 2020
  2. RichColvin


    Mar 13, 2016
    Location (City & State):
    Dublin, OH
    Home Page:

    Thank you for sharing your wisdom. I really appreciate it.

    One question: do you have a bunch of Straka Chucks for the sizes you need, or, as with jamb chucks, do you resize them as needed and make a new one when that can’t work?

    Kind regards,

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