Tuesday , February 20 2018
Home > Lathe Projects > Free Metalworking Project Plans: Ball Turning Toolpost (Lathe, Mill)

Free Metalworking Project Plans: Ball Turning Toolpost (Lathe, Mill)

radiusturner3

Material: Steel
Units: (in)

I’ve seen many ball turning designs as I read through the back issues of Home Shop Machinist and Projects in Metal, but I’ve never seen one as simple and effective as Steve Bedair’s Ball Turning Toolpost.

Steve runs a website dedicated to 9 x 20 lathes and it’s full of great information. If you’re interested in this project, be sure to check out the other projects Steve has listed on his site.

Note: Because this project requires both a lathe and mill to complete, I’m listing it under both categories.

Here’s an image of Steve’s Ball Turning Toolpost in action:

steves-in-action

And here’s a YouTube video clip of the toolpost in action:

Excited yet?

Here’s the link to the plans so you can create your own! If you want a detailed walkthrough of the process, be sure to visit Steve’s site.

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About Tyler

Tyler is a hobby machinist and 3D printing aficionado. He teaches computer programming and web development at Highline College near Seattle. Tyler founded Projects In Metal in 2008 because he was frustrated by the lack of free plans available for hobby machinists.

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27 comments

  1. Very interesting, I have wanted a ball turning tool for ages. With the details I am finding on the web I’m sure I can make one.

    Kind regards

    John King
    New Zealand

  2. Excellent! When you finish yours send me a picture and I’ll post it here. I found another design for a ball turner a few days ago. I can post it if you like.

  3. Hi,
    I’m very pleased to see Steve’s plans on another site.
    I found them over 2 years ago and built my toolpost (the one in the video) shortly after….. Best tool I’ve ever made!

    I also made a mini version for a 7×12 chinese lathe for a forum friend who had no mill.

    I’m glad that youtube insight lead me here…. I’m quite enjoying wandering around your site.

    It’s going into my favourites.

    Ralph.

  4. Thanks for the kind words Ralph. So I take it you’re the author of the YouTube video? If so, excellent work. I’ve had other comment on how helpful it’s been to see Steve’s ball turner in action. I’m glad you’re enjoying your visit, and thanks for adding projectsinmetal.com to your favorites!

  5. Hello again,

    Yes, that’s my video. I sent Steve the link to make sure he was ok with me posting it.
    He was not only ok with it, he placed a link from his site to it…. Very happy me!

    My most hit video!

    I’m glad to hear that it has helped someone, it was originaly made to demo the tool to a few other people thinking of building one.
    With the double headed toolpost it can be used to make all sorts of shapes, some of which I have also posted in film.
    The tips I used are – Sandvik VBMT 16 04 08 (VBMT 11 02 04 in the 7×12 size one I made) just incase anyone wants to know?

    I’ll leave upto you if you want to show any details of the forum I listed in the ‘website’ box.(I’m just a member there) There are details and pictures as to my mounting method for the tips.

    I’ve seen some projects on here I would really like to try when I’ve cleared my backlog….

    Thank you for making them available.

    Ralph.

  6. Ooops… I put the wrong address in! Hope it has now changed?

  7. Are you talking about this link?

    http://madmodder.net/index.php?topic=741.0

    Feel free to share any additional info/links for this project. At the moment the ball turner plans are the most downloaded of all the plans on the site, so it’s obviously a popular project.

    Also, if you have plans for any other projects that you’ve made, please consider uploading them. I really like the projects I’ve seen of yours on YouTube – feel free to share plans and links for anything that you think visitors might enjoy. That’s what this site is here for!

  8. By the way, if your forum allows it, maybe you could post a link to this site so others interested in building the ball turner can find a copy of the plans (if you do that though, be sure to also post a link to Steve’s site, I’m certainly not trying to steal his thunder!).

    Anyway, a link on your forum would definitely help spread the word about projectsinmetal.com, which I would greatly appreciate!

    Just a thought … :)

  9. Hi,
    I’ve posted a couple of links there (got permission first)
    It’s only a small site at the mo’ but it’s growing. The post of the link has had 35+ views already and I’ve posted it on the ball turner posts I did there too….

    Hope it sends a few your way :-)

    Ralph.

  10. Hey Ralph, thanks for the plug on MadModder.net – I’ve been noticing a few hits from that URL over the past several days so I checked it out and saw your posts. Thanks for the Kudos! It’s resulted in several hits. In fact, MadModder.net is the 7th largest incomming link currently, so I guess the forum isn’t as small as you might think, or maybe you just wrote such a compelling plug that it’s getting a 100% clickthrough from everyone who reads it :)

    Have you been working on anything else lately? I’d love to feature another project if you’ve got the plans to go along with it. Let me know or feel free to submit via the “Submit Your Plans!” tab at the top of the page.

    Thanks again for the kind words, you’re helping the site grow by spreading the word.

    Tyler

  11. Oh, and the ball turner plans are still the most highly downloaded of all the plans (with nearly 1000 downloads after just 1 month), and I’m sure its due to your video. That should make you proud!

    Tyler

  12. Hi Tyler,

    I think that MadModder has quite a few “guest” hits…. Just that only a few like to join and share!
    Glad the link is sending some your way too (even the Mad boss himself! ;-) )

    I’ve got a few things of my own design I have made but the plans are either not drawn up properly or (most of the time) there never were any! I make a lot of things on the fly.
    If I use someone elses plans then they’re always listed or linked to.

    Lately,I’ve been making a couple of small fun engine type ideas, all from my head, inspired by others though :-) None of them finished yet…. need to get myself back out into the cold workshop!

    Happy that the vid’ is helping, glad to see more projects being listed since I first found my way here. I’m going to have a good look through.

    Very, very good site you have here :-)

    Ralph.

  13. Hey, great site! I’m very excited to find your site… I plan on “cutting my teeth” and doing some of your projects to better my skill on the lathe. (Rather new to it) I’m thinking that this ball cutter tool could be used to also cut domes in metal by facing the cutter outward. This will be killer for modifying and making cylinder heads on scooter engines. Thanks for the great site! When I find the time, I’ll also post a link on my scooter forum. (http://forum.scooterinvasion.net)

    ~Josh

  14. Hi Josh,

    Glad to hear that you liked the site. My hope is that people new to machining will find simple, yet useful (and hopefully somewhat inspiring) projects to “cut their teeth” on. Eventually I’d like to expand the site a bit to include a few instructional videos that walk you through the project step by step. Even with a set of plans, someone completely new to machining would still have trouble getting started with even the most simple of projects.

    Let me know if I can be of any help along the way as you start to hone your skills on the lathe. Good luck and have fun!

  15. Liked it so much I bought the soundtrack!

  16. Barry the Machinist guy

    This is an excellent design. I have been thinking of adapting this design to my Atlas lathe for some time. Way to go Tyler.

  17. Many thanks Tyler,  he did an excellent job with this…Laugh

  18. I made one of these about a year ago.  If you haven’t made one, do it!  It is very cool watching the ball form, and you can make them very quickly once you learn to set it up correctly.

     

    I made some changes to the design, because I’m lazy.  I eliminated the step on the bottom of the body, and the coresponding pocket in the base.  I also shortened up the base, but that was to make use of material on hand.  In order to facilitate smooth action, I added a thin sheet (.010″) teflon beteween the body and base.  I also used a washer of the same teflon sheet under the head of the screw.  For the screw, I used a brass pan head, and after tightening, I staked over the thread where it comes up through the body.  Smooth turning, and no chance of loosening.  Turns very nicely, with only fingertip pressure.

     

    Also, on the side where the 3 screws tighten onto the slide, I added a .06 brass shim.  This prevents the screws from marring up the slide, and making it hard to adjust.  Not my idea, but stolen from someplace on the web.  It works well.

     

    I used a 1/4″ round carbide bit, because that’s what I was given.  But it cuts so easily, that I wouldn’t hesitate to replace it with HSS if the need arose.  Making balls is quick, easy, and a surprising amount of fun.  I’ve made them in aluminum, brass and stainless, and they all cut quite well, with hardly any effort.  This is an excellent beginner project; highly recommended.

  19. Tyler said
    radiusturner3

    Material: Steel Units: (in)

    I’ve seen many ball turning designs as I read through the back issues of Home Shop Machinist and Projects in Metal, but I’ve never seen one as simple and effective as Steve Bedair’s Ball Turning Toolpost. Steve runs a website dedicated to 9 x 20 lathes and it’s full of great information. If you’re interested in this project, be sure to check out the other projects Steve has listed on his site. Note: Because this project requires both a lathe and mill to complete, I’m listing it under both categories. Here’s an image of Steve’s Ball Turning Toolpost in action:

    steves-in-action

    And here’s a YouTube video clip of the toolpost in action:

    Excited yet? Here’s the link to the plans so you can create your own! If you want a detailed walkthrough of the process, be sure to visit Steve’s site.

      Ball_Turning_Toolpost_-_Complete.pdf (225.4 KiB, 6,675 hits)

     

    Thanks Tyler;

    I own an engineering/manufacturing business in AZ, Were into some high end medical equipment among other things.  This is by far the best ball turner design i’ve ever seen, i’ll definitely be putting one together for my shop in the near future and i see no reason to change anything except adapting dimensions to another lathe.  Please accept my compliments on a wonderful piece of engineering.

  20. Hi Bromac, thanks for the kind words. Although I can’t take credit for the design (it’s Mr. Bediars design). But the kudos are appreciated just the same!

    When you get around to making yours, please post some pictures here. I’d like to see your finished project.

  21. IMGP5509.JPGImage Enlarger

     

    Okay, finally had some more time to tinker on some of my own projects so here’s my version so far.  Still have to order a bronze thrust washer to go between the mounting plate and main body and then it will be ready to use.  Set it up to use a 3/8″ HSS ground tool bit which will clamp in the slot at the top of the tool holder.  Range will be 0 – 3″ diameter external and i should be able to machine up to 120 degree internal concaves as well. 

     

    LOL, won’t use it that often but when i do it will be useful :)

  22. Very nice Bromac.

    Sammy

  23. Looks like a “humdinger”! I must make myself one of these. Love the background music in your video too! A big thank you for the plans! Cool

  24. Turning balls is fun.  You’ll understand when you make your first one.  Then you try to find places for knobs, just to make more.

  25. Wow! That’s quite the design! Is it your own or are there plans somewhere? I like the way it looks. How well does it work?

  26. IMGP5552-2.JPGImage Enlarger

    Tyler said
    Wow! That’s quite the design! Is it your own or are there plans somewhere? I like the way it looks. How well does it work?

    Tyler, here you go.  It works beautifully, rock solid, no chatter whatsoever.  I ended up shortening the handle as i simply did not need the extra leverage, cutting is easy, very smooth.  My lovely wife cringed when i made reference to building a “ball cutting attachment” too. LOL.

    Unfortunately no plans, i just put this together off the top of my head using the existing plans here as starting point for the design, but i think the photos are pretty much self explanatory.  Just a matter of matching the size to the lathe it will be used on.