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Drilling Ball bearing balls

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Derek Lane25/03/2019 18:55:35
297 forum posts
69 photos

I want to source a largish ball from a ball bearing and then drill into it without having to heat it up and loose the nice shine that they have.

My question is can it be done without heating it up. What I want to end up with is a ball about 1" diameter which is very shiny to add to a sculpture that I want to create from wood the hole will be to glue in a clear rod so it appears to float withing the piece.

My other thought to achieve this was to use magnets, but to insert them in the wood without leaving a tell tale ring of wood is the problem as the magnets need to be large enough and strong enough to float the ball.

Hope that makes sense

gary25/03/2019 19:03:24
64 forum posts
16 photos

turn a ball out of stainless or aluminium and polish it ? gary

Bikepete25/03/2019 19:05:02
227 forum posts
16 photos

I'd probably just buy e.g. one of these. Probably cost less than you'd spend on broken cutters

Dave Halford25/03/2019 19:06:42
566 forum posts
5 photos

carbide drill and a ball from a large CV joint

JasonB25/03/2019 19:07:51
17098 forum posts
1843 photos
1 articles

You can buy stainless balls that are not too hard so they can be drilled quite easily, these were 7/8"

Top hat bush to hold the ball for drilling so it does not get marked, easy enough with standard HSS drill


Edited By JasonB on 25/03/2019 19:15:43

Plasma25/03/2019 19:10:19
350 forum posts
43 photos

Definitely not an option to drill.

Not sure what you mean by floating one on magnets other than magnetic opposition but wouldn't that mean the ball had to be magnetic too? Plus you'll be for ever picking the darned thing up.

Definitely get one turned from ally, if you need one doing drop me a post.


Grizzly bear25/03/2019 19:10:43
214 forum posts
6 photos

Would a ball out of a computer mouse do? Not very shiny.

+1 for Bikepete

Derek Lane25/03/2019 19:38:50
297 forum posts
69 photos

Thank you all for the different suggestions. I will take a look at some of the option that have been suggested.

I am trying to do something similar to this one but with a single support from the bottom

The Tower

Neil Lickfold26/03/2019 08:25:02
585 forum posts
102 photos

Like JasonB , hold it in a collet or a bush, drill with a tungsten carbide drill. Then you can also bore to the diameter you want with a carbide boring bar.

The ones I drilled out for my Noga stand attachments , was 7/16 ball , Spot drilled , with a carbide spot dril 1st for about 1mm deep or so, drilled with a 5mm coated carbide drill. I drilled at around 300 rpm, and used just compressed air to keep it cool and blow the chips away. Then bored it out to suite the pin of the attachment. Glued and assembled with 620 loctite, as a permanent assembly.

With Mine I just held the ball in the 3 jaw chuck, with a bit of printer paper around the circumference. Indicated the inside of the jaws true, (adjustable grip tru chuck) and did them. The paper helps with both holding the part and not marking it as well.


Joseph Noci 126/03/2019 08:43:56
565 forum posts
843 photos

Know naught re drilling the balls, but wrt magnetic 'support' - that ain't easy..esp with plain permanent magnets and no feedback control. The ball needs to be perfectly in the centre of the magnetic field. IF you ever get it into that spot, a slight breeze will push it off and the closest magnet will pull it in. Any MINUTE movement of the sculpture/ball will do the same, even the vibration of passing feet on a concrete floor!

Spinning the ball helps a little...

There are electronic ways of doing it with two permmagnets and a solenoid, with optical position feedback, etc, but hard to hide in your creation..Also, if the ball is not a magnet, the magnetic force needs to pull from the top to oppose gravity, so even harder to hide the magnets/solenoid.

google magnetic levitation - lots of stuff.


Hopper26/03/2019 08:49:44
3991 forum posts
85 photos

For the shown application, could you just machine the end of the clear rod concave and glue it to the ball with no hole drilled? Might even be less obviously visible than the drilled hole seen through the clear rod?

Vic26/03/2019 08:53:13
2406 forum posts
12 photos

As said stainless would probably be best. No need for any special fittings, I’ve drilled balls held in a standard three jaw chuck.

Derek Lane26/03/2019 15:33:10
297 forum posts
69 photos

Again thank you all, looks like I will be looking at some stainless balls instead of going for the bearing ball type. They also seem to be more readily available as well as being easier to drill. Making a holder will be no problem

Posted by Hopper on 26/03/2019 08:49:44:

For the shown application, could you just machine the end of the clear rod concave and glue it to the ball with no hole drilled? Might even be less obviously visible than the drilled hole seen through the clear rod?

Where it is to be drilled will not be obvious but still a good idea for future pieces thank you.

Samsaranda26/03/2019 16:36:34
831 forum posts
5 photos

I purchased a ball bearing of 25mm diameter and then held it in a three jaw Chuck and drilled it with standard hss drills, was surprised how easy it was, no problems.

Dave W

Ed Duffner26/03/2019 17:57:01
745 forum posts
61 photos

I came across a video on EDM the other day whilst browsing Youtube. EDM Video

Maybe if you have a local company, they could do the drilling for you?


Bazyle26/03/2019 18:42:51
4906 forum posts
195 photos

Mike's simple EDM should be enough for one ball

John Reese26/03/2019 20:17:30
818 forum posts

Unhardened carbon steel balls are available.

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