How to make an eight-ball out of stainless steel and brass

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All we need now is a jug of wine.


$25 of materials. $25,000 of shop equipment.

This is like an episode of Norm’s New Yankee Workshop. Deeply wonderful to watch, while knowing at the same time I’ll never have the same level of equipment (or skill) to replicate. Still, I love that you guys keep posting makers who work in such a wide range of mediums with vastly different tool sets.


His restoration videos are awe-inspiring. That and the whole thing of “These screws are no good. I make new ones” instead of a trip to the hardware store, just turns a new screw (or set of screws) on the lathe to match what the old ones looked like. (which is even more of ‘using several tens of thousands of dollars worth of machine tools to make fifty cents worth of parts’.)


You don’t need a universal milling machine to do this, or a 25k$ shop.

You need patience, a good set of calipers, the metal, a simple lathe, a rotary table (maybe 300$ one) tilted at a nearly 45 degree angle on a normal mill. You might be able to do this on a good drill press with the rotary table cutting the almost sphere with a fly cutter, but drill press isn’t meaning to take side thrust from cutting forces. It would probably work though, but for the play in the quill bearings on the drill press.

A lathe for 800-1000$, or less if you look, could get you the lathe needed. Mills are usually more, so get a beefy drill press. 50$ arbor press and 20$ heat gun both harbor freight.

You can do this if you have none of this with maybe 2k$ in decent old manual tools if you look hard.

Manual equipment is coming up really cheap now due to pandemic, its a good time to get into it.

Cheapest route- join your local hackerspace or makerspace- and use their equipment.

This technique he uses is called milling a sphere with an inward turned flycutter and rotary table. Don’t bother trying to find a universal milling machine (the kind where the table tilts like that), they are hard to find, and even harder to properly set up.

This is an awesome video, first time I’ve actually seen someone use this milling technique on video, it’s in 100 year old machining texts on my shelf, just never saw anyone actually do it!


What you said: “Detailed instructions on how to do this relatively inexpensively, with alternative methods for producing the same result as added bonus.”

What I heard: “You still ain’t going to do this.”

But thanks for clarifying! :slight_smile:

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Come to Pittsburgh, find Hack PGH. I’ll show you how to make this personally if you’re serious. The turners cube on their main page was a class I did a few years ago.

This is doable in a home shop- he just used nice equipment.

Too many people find machining intimidating, I try to fix that however I can.

Now if ya wanna make a watch from scratch, that’s another story entirely…


I’d probably have used my oven for this (it traps the heat so it’s more efficient), and popped the inserts into the freezer for good measure.

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You are AWESOME for offering, but no I’m not serious about wanting to do this. I’ve got little enough time for the interests and hobbies I do have, and I keep signing up for volunteering activities. But keep doing the great work you’re doing, you all have much respect from me and others. I love watching these videos, I find them a relaxing distraction from (waves hand at the world).


Huh, when I saw them rough out the ball shape, I figured the next step would be a pivoting sphere turning jig, like I’ve seen on wood lathes. I didn’t expect the tilted rotary table/fly cutter solution. I assume that’s easier, given they’re machining stainless and not aluminum. I guess I’ve seen too many Clickspring videos, with hand tools on soft metals chucked into a lathe.

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That machinist is behind all this.

Or you could start with a bucket and hair dryer and build your Gingery foundry which will let you make your Gingery lathe, shaper, and milling machine…

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Here’s one of my new favorites from him. His removal of a de-slotted slotted screw, the fabrication of a small ball bearing, and fabrication of a new wooden handle all brought me joy!


Yes, but I’ve yet to see anyone actually do it all from scratch.

It’s easier to just join a makerspace :smile:

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I made my foundry and lathe before makerspaces were a thing. I stalled out on the shaper and never finished it.


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