Hot Air Balloon from Wood – Art, Sculpture, Woodturning

Hot Air Balloon from Wood – Art, Sculpture, Woodturning


A gracious, repeat patron had a new project
for me. That was to make a hot air balloon. I figured I would make it segmented. I started off by cutting a piece of maple
that was going to be the top. I had some random wood that I had sitting
around from other projects, like walnut, maple and even some skateboard wood that I got from
my friend Larry. I raided his scrap bin. I did some basic planning for this. I first drew a sketch on my computer. Then, I used the web site blocklayer.com to
plan out the sizes of my rings and the size of the pieces I would need for the rings. I glued all the rings up, putting dowels between
them. Because I do not have properly dimensioned
wood it is pretty much impossible for me to get an accurate cut. I have to glue them up in half rings. Then, sand the faces flat to glue them into a whole ring. As I mentioned before, rubber bands are very
versatile. While the glue was drying on the segmented
rings, I turned the first piece of maple. I basically wanted to just put a tenon on
it, make it round and flatten one surface. I flattened the surfaces of the rings on the
disk sander in order to get a good glue-up. I glued the blank up in two halves. Once I turned them, I was going to glue them
into the whole balloon piece. Once the outside was done, I turned the inside,
just to make it lighter weight. You were not actually going to see it. I simply eyeballed the outside diameter of
each piece in order to glue them up. I was going to sand it off later anyway. I checked the fit and it looked pretty good. I turned off the tenon and smoothed out the
top. Then, I turned the remaining bottom portion. This was really difficult. I was getting so much vibration it was very
difficult. I had to take microscopic cuts. I glued the two halves together, using rubber
bands to hold it together while the glue dried. While the glue dried on that, I had to make
the little gondola portion. I basically made a tiny bandsaw box. Once the glue was dry on the balloon, I power-sanded
it. I drilled a hole in the top because it was
going to be a hanging piece. I had the idea that I could use the back of
this reclaimed chair as the frame to hang it. I used this piece of cedar as the base. I was getting some really nice, curly shavings. I brushed off the bark with a wire brush. I was just going to hold it together with
screws. Once I drilled the holes, I simply finished
it with lacquer. I did not want any hardware visible. Although, I could not avoid having a wire
there. I rigged up this copper wire. To hold the gondola on, I simply cut another
piece of copper wire, using five-minute epoxy to glue it to the bottom. An extra little dab there. To hang it, I used another piece of copper
wire. I do not know why I bothered making this little
dowel thing. I could have just tied the wire in a knot. It is light-weight enough that I could just
curl the wire over into a hook and hang it. Once the epoxy was cured, I simply bent the
wires into a Y shape. It is just held in there by friction. I posted this to Instagram. I was honestly surprised how popular it seemed
to be. The patron loved it and they ordered another
commission. Thanks a lot for watching. See you again soon in Cammie’s Garage.

15 thoughts on “Hot Air Balloon from Wood – Art, Sculpture, Woodturning

  1. Love the skateboard wood in there. I odnt see hot air balloons as much any more but remember seeing dozens of them as a kid going across the city in the fall.

  2. Beautiful piece. Couple of suggestions/ideas if you're asked to do another one: only use half of that chair back and have it mounted at the back of the base to minimise its cisual impact (could even have a cloud-shaped piece fixed to the top so it looks like ballon is floating below a cloud; if you incorporate coloured resin into the segments and add LEDs on the inside (so you getlight shining through the segments) it would make an amazing night light for a kids room

  3. I love this! We have a hot air baloon festival here locally that would be really cool to turn one for. Maybe a best in show prize or something.

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