Wimbledon is upon us here in the UK and this signals the beginning of summer and everyone going tennis loco. So here is a very nice quite simple little project for making some fun tennis bats in a steampunk style. I have used a scroll type pattern, but you could design them with any pattern you like. The key is to make them look like wrought metalwork. The design, using a flat sheet with lateral reinforcing vanes gives a very light composite material that is reasonably strong. This means that when you hit a soft squashy ball with one of these bats, the handle does not bend or snap off. So not only are you making something beautiful and well at least vaguely steampunky, but you are learning something interesting about structural composite materials.

The ball is made from a couple of carrier bags, so all in all this is a very nice little project that doesn't require much in the way of special materials or equipment. Like with just about all my projects, a glue gun is very handy to make the project go quickly, but you can use white woodwork glue (Elmers or PVA) if you want to and you have the time and the patience to sit holding each bit while it dries.

What you need:

  • Piece of thick corrugated packaging card (you can use foamboard if you have it)
  • Glue (preferably hot melt / glue gun glue)
  • A strip of material, felt or leather
  • Some clear plastic sheet like drawing artcel sheets or an overhead projector slide, or old bit of packaging window (I used the thick cellophane window from the top of an old Christmas cracker box)
  • Two plastic carrier (grocery) bags
  • Some spray paint (preferably gold or silver, but any colour will do)

Step 1: Design Your Pattern

The first step is to design your pattern. The bat is made much stronger by the addition of the vertical strips that are going to make up its thickness. As long as some strips go from the tip of the handle right into the body of the bat playing area, you can design them to be as decorative as you like. Copy this design by eye, or make one of your own up, or go to thedadcando project where you'll find a free download of the template pattern.

Of course you could design yours on a computer too using any simple drawing package. When you have a design that you are happy with, mark it out on a piece of corrugate cardboard and carefully cut it out. I agonized about the direction of the flutes (corrugated card), for the best performance. A bat will not really have much lateral force applied to it, but given that you putting longitudinal strengthening, it makes sense to have the flutes running across the face of the bat. That way you'll be making the strongest composite possible (from the given materials).
awesome ible! but needs a tweak. At the step of painting the gold lines, you maybe wat to flip the acetate on the gle's face, because the ball will slowly scratch the paint and you have to repaint it over and over, so, flip it over, and the paint is safe!
what the heck is steampunk?
Where have you been for the last decade. A search on the web will bring you up to speed. It is the fusion of H G Wells type SciFi, Victorian engineering and 21st century technology. So you might have a steam powered laptop or a clockwork mobile phone for example, retro-alternative future kind of stuff
I like how it shows that steampunk isn't all about gears and whistles.
Very cool looking, but I'm not so sure what would be "steam-punk" about something with no mechanical parts whatsoever....
I guess it's the whole Victorian over engineering thing, a metalwork tennis bat, I guess I never thought through that I might actually have to put pipes and steam and stuff through it... I feel another project coming on!
I wouldn't call this Victorian.
Is it later... more Edwardian or earlier... more Elizabethan, or even earlier a bit neoclassical Greek?
I'm not sure this would be classified under any historical period. I would say it's more of an artist's style. I have seen some really cool work done with the organic spiral style. i.e. <a rel="nofollow" href="http://gustlbuheitel.deviantart.com/art/qtek8500-yet-again-77870777">http://gustlbuheitel.deviantart.com/art/qtek8500-yet-again-77870777</a><br/>
very nice, but the fact is not the scrolly theme but more the method of construction with the upstanding thin metal-esk strips. I could have dome Inca style or wrought iron work or Arts and Crafts or Art Nouveau on the same basic construction... I suppose I was thinking a little Wild Wild West type thing with a little bit of Jules Verne fantasy thrown in hence the mention of Steam Punk, which is where that movement comes from.
Cardboard is a fun and versatile medium. I agree that the wrought iron style would lend itself to this type of construction readily. What exactly is arts and crafts style? To me arts and crafts is an activity more than a style. As far as being Vernian or WWW based, I can somewhat see the WWW style but not really the vernian. Maybe if it were thinner or made with wire it would seem more so. You have probably seen the wire trees that are on here. Maybe one of those with the 'branches' forced into 2 dimensions would make a good core.
Well...<br/><br/>The Arts and Crafts Movement was a British and American aesthetic movement occurring in the last years of the 19th century and the early years of the 20th century. Inspired by the writings of John Ruskin and a romantic idealization of the craftsman taking pride in his personal handiwork, it was at its height between approximately 1880 and 1910.<br/><br/>So says Wiki. Arts and Crafts movement was that time of swirly flowers and long droopy vines and leaves that slowly changed into the Art Nouveau movement at the end of the Victorian era in both the US and Britain.<br/><br/>Like good things always come around more than once, the whole swirly graphics thing nearly made it back into style in the 70s with the pop-scifi artist [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Dean_(artist) Roger Dean].<br/><br/>This also shows that a) influences are fantastic and inspire and b) there's nothing new under the sun.<br/>
I think this falls in nicely, though it's actually pretty good design and a triumph of engineering when shown to a layman, in some ways it's smarter than an ovale with string pulled across, it's likely more durable, assuming you play on sunny days...
it's actually a very modern form of construction similar lay up to airliner floors, trouble as far as real tennis is concerned is the factor of air resistance of a flat structure versus wires that present less air resistance, but certainly this composite structure would be stiff, which is what you need for transfer of energy and maximum hitting power... hey I wonder why they don't make cricket bats like this from a carbonfibre skin over a fluted titanium core... oooo that would be nice
Tradition plays a part in cricket, however a single rod core baseball bat could be good, with projections out from the core to a strong outer covering... It occurs to me that a good player could get around this, by slicing the bat through the air and then turning, giving the ball some serious spin... If you're gonna change the bat you may as well change the technique, sometimes the other way isn't bad.
I think that they do employ something like this technique, although I am no expert. I know what you mean about tradition, but then the cricketers do look more like American footballers these days all padded up. Nice silk black finish cricket bat... it could be the next big thing, or the surface could be coated with a ultra thin layer of wood facing (thiner than a veneer) that gave the impression of a well oiled bat but was very low mass, and very stiff...
The other issue is in some sports bat mass is very important, I'm trying to think how well and uber light cricket bat would work.... The baseball one would look excellent if it was clear, think of the rod with spines coming out of it, maybe cast in light resin or a skin or clear something....
Yeah, I see what you're saying about the Victorian over-engineering... It just seems to be a fad around here of late to throw the phrase "steam-punk " around whether it applies or not. Don't mis-understand though, I do like this instructable (and many others you've done) quite a bit!
np, I didn't take it wrong, I think you have a fair comment, I was taking a bit of a liberty with the steam punk thing in a bit of a wider sense of the Victorian gilding of mechanisms... that and I am the arch band wagon jumper onner so to speak...
This isn't steampunk but it is cool. The idea alone is quite unusual. Also these seem closer to ping pong paddles than rackets. those are excellent renderings by the by. how did you do them?
Thx, yes it has been noted that this isn't really Steam Punk, actually I called it that because it was too long to call it "Table Tennis Raquets Made in the Spirit of Victorian Over-engineering Using Brass and Other Sub-optimal Construction Materials" As far as the drawings are concerned, see my most recent instructable, How to Illustrate Your Instructable and all will be revealed.
what if ... skip the clear cover and fill with clear resin... and make a thinner version... get the picture in your mind??? nice `table bu the way, cool rendering. kudos!
I guess thats why he said thinner version hehe
would be nice, but quite a bit more heavy, but if you did that you could make the scroll work very very thin and very detailed... oooh that would be nice, maybe use some ancient Mayan or Aztec patterns or something
I rather gears :P Oh i got an idea to keep it lightweight... layers of acethate with printed gears
sounds like it could be very cool
I know what you mean, sounds like a neat idea, the original was only meant to be cardboard and simple, I guess it grew from there. So yes a resin one sounds like it would be very neat, although a bit heavy...
How does one "sue" paint? (step 6) good instructable though.
As a part time dyslectic (sp?) I sue paint all the time
Its okay, I do the same thing all the time. Usually its just from typing too fast.
These are... cool! i thought this was made from wood, though that would be heavier but still awesome design n all 4/5
cardboard is a sort of wood :-) and the fibrous make up of cardboard means that put together right it can be a very good engineering material. In fact arranged like this in a composite structure, the resulting bats are very light and super strong.
its paper which comes from wood , got that part, im gonna put some epoxy and make its stronger, but here lay the problem, i have no cardboard..... anyone know where you can get some in Canada?
dumpsters. An endless source of cardboard and everything else wonderful.
ahh i wishe ther was an edit button ...<br/><br/>i dont really shop in supermarkets so they don't leave boxes lying around like that but i can go to one maybe get some, don't really see good ones thanks =] now, to get there &gt;.&gt;<br/>
And supermarkets or other big shops, all their stuff is delivered to them in corrugated cardboard boxes great from free model making.
Although very very cool its papercraft and its more like quilling. Steam Punk is like 1800s style techno-cyberpunk like H.G. Wells' Time Machine. I don't think this is Steam Punk but would look great sitting on a mid-century-modern coffee table.
Great idea! i just favorited it.
Thank you, are you going to make a set?
I want to try to. As soon as I get some free time, Il put the set together.
These would make great presents! favorited 5/5
Aw, thx. And because you can do the scroll work in any pattern you could introduce the initials of the person you are giving the present to into the design!
unless it's in Japanese or something
that shouldn't really pose a problem once you know what the characters look like :-)
ya, maybe
These are gorgeous!
I'm so glad you like them, they're actually very strong and we covered the backs with felt and used the balls from an underarm deodorant (in stead of Table Tennis balls because we didn't have any and had a brilliant game of kitchen table tennis. The deodorant balls are heavier and slightly less bouncy than the TT balls which makes them more suitable for the smaller table. of course the carrier bag pompom made a credible Badminton substitute. I was surprised that more people didn't pick them up when i put the project up on line... I though OMG I must be losing my touch. I loved them so much and so did the kids I thought they would be a runaway success. So, thanks for saying you liked them.
ooooh. aaaaaaaaaaaaah
thx, we put felt on the other side of the bat and used the ball out of an underarm roll-on deodorant as a ball and had a very credible game of table tennis on the kitchen table... was a great laugh.

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Bio: Eldest of five, son of two doctors, 10 years in Graphic Design and marketing, then retrained as a Biomedical Materials Engineer, don't ask me ... More »
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