by Betty  Rahbar

I love to carve golf balls now and then and unlike wood, there is no grain.  If your tools are sharp the golf ball center is fairly easy to carve.  This material is very durable and the center comes in many different colors making them great key chain rings after they are carved.


I.       Where to obtain golf balls:

a.  Buy new balls at most major retail and pro golf shops (the expensive way to go)

b.  Buy used balls at golf shops, sports equipment and thrift stores

(NOTE--there are a few types of interiors for the golf balls;  some balls are rubber band wrapped and some have a rubber center.  To check you can use a V tool or a knife to cut down through the shell.  You don't want to use the balls with a rubber band center)

II.      To remove the shell:

a.  It is a good idea to use a centerline on the ball.  Ink pen or marker works well for this.  Don't use a permanent marker.  I like to leave the brand name visible so that people can tell that it is a real golf ball.  You can leave or take away as much of the cover as you want.  I usually leave 1/2 of the cover on.

b.  Here are a few ways of cutting along the centerline to remove the cover.

1.  You can use a knife or v-tool.  For extra protection use a carver's glove; be sure to grip the ball tightly.  If the ball does not feel secure in your hand, you might try using a non-slip material found in the home department or retail stores or use "vet wrap".

2.  Scroll saw, band saw, dremel tool, or other hand power tools may be used to cut the centerline.  Make sure you have a constant firm hold on the ball as you turn it slowly.  I like to use a fine cutting blade.  For the dremel or other hand power tools you can use a cut-off wheel.  Be sure to wear eye protection.  If you loose your grip, the ball will fly off with good speed and probably hit you in the head.

III.   Preparing the center for carving:  (All sorts of subjects can be carved into the center.  Here are hints to doing a face.

a.  Planning and drawing the face:

1.  Patterns can be found in many sources--magazines, books, paintings.  You can copy expression and muscle movement from your own face.

2.  Find the center, place lines.  If you plan to use a hat or a beard you need to be sure to have space for these. (See Example 1)

3.  I draw the nose a bit larger to leave room for error (See Example 2)

b.  Begin to carve:

Note-- the tools I like to use are a knife, a small V-tool and a small gouge.  V-tools and gouges are good for doing the hair and wrinkles. I usually start with the nose and eyes but you can choose to start in another area depending on the needs of the design.

1.  Make stop cuts for the top of the eye socket and around the nose.  Pay attention to the angle of the knife on both sides of the nose (Example 3)

2.  Wedge-cut, removing material out of the eye socket area and from around the nose.  The deepest parts of the face, besides an open mouth, are the eyes toward the nose and beside the nostrils.

3.  Do 1 and 2 until you feel the nose is large enough and until it is deep enough for the eyes.

4.  For the mouth, if it is a closed mouth, use your v-tool.  For an open mouth use stop cuts and for the teeth use the v-tool to make the grooves.

5.  The cheek will begin to reveal itself when you make creases from the side of the nose to the corner of the mouth.  Place some wrinkles out from the outer corners of the eyes.  (Example 4)

6.  Using a small gouge, put a crease on the upper lip beneath the nose, put holes in for nostrils.  If you are not comfortable doing eyes at first, you can put hair or the bill of a hat over the eyes thus only exposing the nose and mouth.  If you are unsure of teeth then have a closed mouth.  See other pattern ideas below.


IV  To Use or Display

a.  Make a key ring (add screw-eye and key ring)  The center of the golf ball can be painted but if used as a key ring the paint might get worn off or chip off.

b.  Use the half cover that was removed for a base or a carved base with a golf tee in it.

c.  Use a plastic ring from craft store used for egg displays to set the golf ball on.





Created Oct 2001.....Updated FEB 2017