Every year I get a couple of opportunities to be creative with a regular 8-foot 2x4 for 2x4 contests. I maintain a running list of ideas for when the time comes. This time, I attempted to make a regulation-size NFL Football! Watch my video to see how it turned out.
NFL footballs are about 11” long and 22” around the middle. I was tempted to glue together several 11” lengths of 2x4 into a block, but I didn’t think the seam lines would look very good. So, I decided to edge-glue the 2x4 and cut two each of 6.75”, 6.5”, 5” and 3” circles, then and stack them to make the blank. I glued the circles together with the joint lines crossing each other for strength, and I used small dowels to keep them from slipping.
I’m a novice on the lathe, but I was able to turn the blank into something that resembles a football shape. Softwood is difficult to turn down to a smooth surface. This is the largest chunk of wood I’ve had on my lathe yet and it was pretty intimidating. I turned the ends down as far as I felt safe doing so, then removed the football and sanded the points on the belt sander. This worked well.
I wiped on some MinWax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner and Early American stand and let it dry overnight. I used a handsaw to cut four seam lines lengthwise on the football, then filled the seam lines with additional stain. It took a while for the stain to dry in the Georgia humidity.
Once the stain was dry, I gave the whole football a light sanding to give it some roughness. I cut some small pieces from the 2x4 scraps to make up the top seams and glued them on. I think the seams are a little larger than a real football, but they still look cool. I also had enough 2x4 leftover to make a display stand.
After a few coats of spray lacquer, the 2x4 Wood Football and stand were complete. It actually turned out to look somewhat real to a degree. The extra time it took to glue together the circles with alternating joints really paid off with a cool striped effect. Due to the limited width of the 2x4 and a little too much turning on my part, my football ended up being 11” long and only about 20” around. That’s ok though, because I’ve heard the NFL footballs can be a little deflated sometimes too. ;-)