How to Carve a Sphere out of Wood

Updated July 20, 2017

Carving a sphere out of wood can be done quickly on a lathe. Basic lathe knowledge is necessary. You will need to know how to trim a piece of wood and put it in the machine. Knowledge of woodworking tools is mandatory. The machine spins the wood quickly. Carving is made by hand using a sharp chisel. You will shave off a little at a time, a hemisphere at a time, until the shape is completed. Then, use sand paper to make the sphere smooth.

Sharpen your tools.

Make a circle jig that you will follow as you shape the sphere. Determine the diameter that you would like your sphere to be and find a piece a of wood that will accommodate it. Trace a circle with your compass on the Masonite and cut it out using your woodworking tools. Attach the jig to your workstation table using a clamp. It should be attached directly below the cutting area of your jig. A jig works as a guide as you cut. It is an advanced woodworking technique.

Attach your carving tool to a block so that the tip of the tool hangs over the edge of the block. One-eighth of an inch will do fine. All you need is to have the sharp edge exposed to cut the wood on the lathe.

Make a second jig by tracing a half circle on Masonite. Cut it out. This jig will allow you to check your sphere for roundness as you work. To do this, stop the machine and see how well the jig fits it.

Load the piece of wood into your lathe. Depending on your machine, you may need to drill a hole for the bit to grip the piece of wood. Once loaded, outline the boundaries of your sphere. Measure the diameter of your sphere and make a mark at both edges and also mark the halfway point between them. This will be the widest part of your sphere.

Turn on the lathe. It should spin evenly.

Begin in the centre and apply pressure as you carve. Go slow. Carve away at the wood. Push your cutting tool into the wood in a scraping motion, following the round jig that should be attached to the table. Push the block against the jig. Your tool will do the rest. Stay focused on shaping your sphere.

Pause as the wood becomes more round. Use the half circle jig to check your progress. For this, it is a good idea to stop the machine. Place the half circle jig on your work. A sphere that is not yet shaped will have a gap between the jig and your sphere. It means you will have to turn the machine on again and resume carving until the sphere fits without showing gaps.

Turn off your lathe and wait until it comes to a complete stop. Pull the piece off the lathe. Cut off the excess wood using a hand chisel. Use caution so you do not damage your sphere.

Sand your sphere so that it is smooth. Use a high-grit sand paper.


You can polish the sphere with a rag and a little bit of shoe polish.


Wear safety glasses and a dust mask. Do not wear loose clothing while operating the lathe. Tie back long hair.

Things You'll Need

  • Lathe
  • Wood
  • Masonite
  • Wood tools
  • Chisels
  • Sand paper
  • Measuring tape
  • Compass
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About the Author

Paul Jeter has been a writer since 1990. He tackled writing in high school and college with a focus on poetry. In 2009 he finished his first novel and screenplay. His work has been published in "Reproduce and Revolt." He has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in art and art history.