Patterns & Projects

Carving Faces in Softballs

Polyurethane core is easy to carve and holds detail well

By Terry Brasher
Photography by Jay Brasher

Several years ago I was hunting for driftwood with my mentor and friend, Vic Hood. On a sandy beach area (rare in Tennessee), I found a softball that had washed up on shore. While turning it around in my hands, I thought about how I’ve carved golf balls, and I remembered Joe Schumacher telling me that he’d carved a bowling ball. Out came my knife. As my blade moved toward the cover, Vic started hopping around, excitedly saying that when he was a kid, if he’d found a ball in that great of shape, he’d have thought he found a treasure, and how could I even consider… Well, guess what? You can carve softballs.

The only softballs you can carve are polycore, which is compressed polyurethane. I have carved polycore softballs made by Worth, Rawlings, Dudley, Diamond, Wilson, Legend, and DeMarini. Of those brands, the only one I didn’t like was DeMarini. I have carved new and used fast pitch and slow pitch softballs and found no real differences. But if you slice off the cover and find windings around the core, that core is usually too hard to carve. Softballs with a cork core are also difficult to carve.

 And, yes, you can still play softball with the carved ball. Their aerodynamics just change a bit.

Take a look at the photos of some of my softball projects below for some inspiration to carve your own.


Read Caricature Carving (Best of WCI) for more information on carving caricatures. Have fun creating amusing figures with ideas, expert techniques and tips collected in this great reference book of projects from the editors of Woodcarving Illustrated. The book is available for $29.95 plus S&H at

Read Woodcarving Illustrated Fall 2011 (Issue 56) for full step-by-step instructions on how to carve your own softball face.

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