Introduction: Making Perfect Holes in Super Balls

About: Retired Electronic Design Engineer. Member of The MakerBarn.

Superballs are useful for all kinds of projects as decoration, bumpers, not skib feet, and in this case, drumsticks. Anyone who has ever tried to drill a hole in a superball will say it's almost impossible. The superball material is very tough and wants to stretch and crumple with a drill bit. It also like to grab the drill bit, which can be hazardous.

Here's a method I use which works quite well. Instead of drilling the holes, we cut the hole with a thin-wall hollow punch.

Step 1: You Will Need...

Some superballs. Party City sells these by the bagfull for party treats.

A piece of thin-wall brass tubing, the size of the desired hole. Brass tubing can be found in hobby stores. It is available in almost any size you could ever need.

A file (single cut fine file works best), and some fine sand paper or sharpening stone.

A drill press, a piece of scrap wood, and a large countersink bit.

Step 2: Make the Punch

Cut a piece of tubing about three inches long. Use a fine tooth hobby saw or fine hacksaw.

Make sure the ends are square. You can square them up with a file and sandpaper.

Mount the tubing in the drill press chuck. Tighten the chuck gently. You do not want to crush the tubing.

Run the drill press at medium speed, about 1000 RPM. Using a fine file, bevel the edge of the tubing to make a sharp edge. You can refine the edge with a sharpening stone or fine sandpaper.

Step 3: A Seat for the Ball

Clamp a piece of scrap wood on the drill press table. Make sure the table is locked. Also it's a good idea to make sure the punch can be reinstalled in the drill chuck without having to move the table or piece of wood.

Using a large countersink (I used a 3/4" size), cut a cone-shaped hole in the wood. This hole will hold the superball on center.

Step 4: Reinstall the Punch

Reinstall the punch, again tighten the chuck, but don't crush the tubing.

Run the drill press and use a block of paraffin or some candle wax to lubricate the punch.

Step 5: Punch the Hole

With the drill press stopped. Place the ball in the hole, then use the drill press to press the punch through the ball. The hole may have a narrow place in the middle, but that helps grab whatever you put in the hole (like the drum stick). If you want the hole to have straight smooth sides, run the drill press very slowly (as slow as you can get it to go) and lower the punch through the ball. This produces a shearing cut. Use plenty of lubricant to keep the punch from grabbing.

Doing this with the drill press running is hazardous, so be careful. One way to hold the ball would be to drill a hole in a piece of wood. Make the hole slightly smaller than the diameter of the ball. Place the piece on top of the ball and clamp it down so that the punch can go through the hole but the ball will be held firmly. Just be careful.

Step 6: It Should Look Like This When the Punch Is Removed.

Sometimes the punch will want to stick in the ball. So you may have to remove the punch for the drill press and pull the punch out with pliers.

Step 7: The Finished Project

In this case I wanted to make some drumsticks for an Aztek drum. I used 3/8" brass tubing to punch holes for the 3/8" Walnut dowels. Super glue helps to make sure the balls are well secured to the dowels.

Makerspace Contest 2017

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Makerspace Contest 2017