Screwples -
The Three Ball Conundrum - DVD

A Definitve Guide to Hand Thread Chasing

with John Berkeley RPT

Published by KTMP, UK

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As reviewed in The Australian Woodworker Issue 155

John Berkeley is best known for his DVDs on chasing threads on wooden boxes. The first DVD in his Screwples series introduces the viewer to the technique of turning a box with a screw-on lid.

Successive DVDs in the series explore variations on the theme, mostly wooden puzzles or novelties which require a chased thread. With the Three Ball Conundrum, we are up to the eighth DVD in the Screwples series.

This DVD starts, not with an explanation of the puzzle, but with a review of a new tool, the Unichaser from Ashley Isles. The tool was requested by John Berkeley, though he gives the credit for the original idea to Eli Avisera.

While manufacturers have typically produced chasing tools in pairs, ie. one for making male threads and another for making female threads, Eli contended that only the female tool was required as it could be used to chase both types of thread. When chasers were dropped from ranges in recent years and became hard to source, John approached Ashley Isles to make the Unichaser.

John goes on to demonstrate the use of the Unichaser. As he explains, the tool should be good news to anyone interested in taking up chasing threads as it halves the investment in tools required.

The puzzle is a near-spherical shape from which dangle three small balls, each hanging on string. The object of the puzzle is to remove the balls without cutting the string.

The large 'sphere' consists of three sections, threaded so that they screw together. John demonstrates how to make the sections, using the Unichaser to cut all the threads.

He then drills three equidistant holes around the perimeter of the centre section which he has previously hollowed.

After the three sections have been partially shaped and threaded, they are joined together for final shaping, sanding and finishing.

The next step is to shape and part off, in succession, three balls from a length of stock. Because the balls will be threaded onto a piece of string, the end of the stock is first drilled before each ball is shaped.

When all three have been parted off, they are replaced in turn on the lathe for sanding and finishing.

How are the balls connected with string and how does the puzzle work? - you'll have to buy the DVD!

John has a friendly chatty style in his presentation, making the video entertaining as well as instructive.

While John clearly demonstrates the process from start to finish of making the puzzle, it would be challenging to make the Conundrum as your first threaded project. However, if you have already mastered the projects in the first Screwples DVD or you are confident in chasing threads, then the Three Ball Conundrum should be a fun project to make.

Duration: 110min

DVD - English