Introduction: Mini-Pool Ball Keychain

NOTE: Due to COVID-19, some of the original plans for this instructable were pivoted to take away the required manufacturing lab (as we are not allowed to access those locations per NC State regulations). I edited the instructions and kept references to the old instructions so the original plan could be seen, but the product is made differently in this instructable than in the way that would have been ideal.

What is this?

This instructable will teach students how to take simple supplies and miniature pool balls to create a 'product' that could be sold to consumers. The end product will be a small pool ball keychain (number of the student's choice), and a better understanding of processes that go into the basics of entrepreneurship.

Who should complete this instructable?

This instructable targets high school to early college students, but can be completed by people above that age group as well.

What is the point in completing this?

Obviously one major goal of completing this instructable is to get a cool keychain! On a more important level, however, the instructable aims to show the ways basic materials and other objects can be looked at in novel ways to create a sellable product.

This instructable has 3 main learning objectives, highlighted below.

1. Students should learn about the basics of entrepreneurship, and ways that simple products can be made in order to offer an item to a consumer. (students will take mini-pool balls, some simple supplies from an art store, and create a product, a complimentary lesson about entrepreneurship geared around this project would be vital to ensuring this objective is accomplished)

2. Students should learn the basics of 3d/2d technical design programs in order to understand their importance in the process of fabricating a product (throughout the project, students will see examples of the use of these programs and understand the importance of having the programs available, ideally the students will be able to learn bout some of the strategies used in creating the resources offered throughout the instructable). (This will highlight on STL 17, communication technologies, as students learn to use programs to communicate their ideas in a more complex way. Specific sub-standards that apply to the grade levels targeted by this project include but are not limited to M., information systems allow information to be transferred from human to human, human to machine, machine to human, and machine to machine, P., there are many ways to communicate information, such as graphic and electronic means, and Q., technological knowledge and processes are communicated using symbols, measurement, conventions, icons, graphic images, and languages that incorporate a variety of visual, auditory, and tactile stimuli. ).

3. The students will learn a little bit about manufacturing while putting the simple product together (students will assemble the product), as well as a little bit about marketing when they think of ways to give away or sell the final product. (this also highlights the way the program hits on STL 19, manufacturing processes. Specific sub-standards that apply to the grade levels targeted by this project include but are not limited to O., manufacturing systems may be classified into types, such as customized production (what we are doing), batch production, and continuous production, P., the interchangeability of parts increases the effectiveness of manufacturing processes, and R., marketing involves establishing a product's identity, conducting research on its potential, advertising, distributing, and selling it)

Cost Estimation

For every 16 students, the project will cost 27.04, or approximately 1.69 per keychain. The cost breakdown can be found below... (COVID-19 note, these materials are for the modified instructions, not the original instructions. The original instructions materials have been removed to avoid confusion)

Mini-pool balls .... 13.99

Art Supplies ... 13.05 (at Micheals)


Barrel Clasps

Gorilla Glue

Entrepreneurship Lesson Component

As mentioned above, a part of this instructable is to teach students about entrepreneurship. Before beginning this project, it is really important to learn a bit about the basis of the purpose of creating a product like the one we are going to make. There are several different types of entrepreneurship in the world, ranging from things like large company based entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship, all the way to what we are doing here which falls under the small business type of entrepreneurship. We are taking a few easy-to-get items and combining them to make a product that we can produce and sell at a small cost. This is one, typically introductory, type of entrepreneurship. A really common example of this form of entrepreneurship is a lemonade stand. A person takes something cheap, lemons, and turns it into lemonade and sells it. We are taking small pool balls, turning them into keychains, and ideally would sell them. Understanding this and the implication on a bigger scale is a really good thing to make sure students have done before completing the rest of this instructable.

Let's get started!


Mini-pool balls .... 13.99

Art Supplies ... 13.05 (at Micheals)


Barrel clasps

Gorilla Glue

Step 1: Digital Design

(Important note: Some things on this step have been changed due to the presence of COVID-19 and the closures related. If text in the step is written in italics, it is something that has been changed and can be skipped.)

This is a learning step, students will not complete any actions on this stage.

In order to turn the mini-pool balls we have into a keychain, we are going to need a way to fasten a chain to the top of the ball. A part of this instructable is to teach about some basic program based design and some manufacturing, so we will choose a route that requires both of these.We are going to drill a small hole in the top of these pool balls and then drop an eye hook into the hole so that we can connect a chain at that point.

As one might imagine, however, it may be difficult to use a drill press on a sphere if it isn't being held down, and it is not safe to keep your fingers on the ball while it is being drilled just in case it slips. To avoid this, we will use what is called a jig.

I used a program called SolidWorks to create a basic Jig Assembly, pictured on this step, that has an area for the ball to sit, a drill to go into the top of, and a viewing spot to make sure the number of the ball is lined up the way the person wants before drilling. This is a good example of how technology and modeling programs can be used to create solutions to small issues such as the one described. The image that shows the way the ball sits inside of the Jig is also a great example of how digital design programs can be used to communicate ideas and intentions.

These JIG parts will be provided for this instructable, but if you are are doing this from home you can 3D print the parts yourself. Attached are two files, the parts needed for 3D printing the Jig.

Step 2: Original Manufacturing Route

(NOTE: This entire step is no longer usable considering the COVID-19 implications. Feel free to read through what would have been done, but there will not be pictures for this step as I was never able to access a lab to create the product this way. Every step after this one will be accurate to what should be done with available resources)


Place the pool ball of your choice into the JIG with the number facing through the viewing hole, as straight as possible. Secure the JIG and then move towards your labs drill press. Set up the drill press with a 1/8th inch drill bit, as corresponding with the 1/8th inch eye hooks purchased earlier.

Once the drill press is ready, center the jig assembly under the drill so that the drill bit can go through the guide hole at the top of the assembly, as pictured (NOT AVAILABLE DUE TO COVID-19). Be sure to align the bit as much as possible to the center of the ball as held in the jig, and then drill a small hole in the top of the ball no deeper than a quarter inch.

Once the hole has been drilled, you can remove the ball from the jig.

Drip a little bit of superglue into the hole on the ball, and then insert the eye hook into the ball's hole, as shown in the image (NOT AVAILABLE DUE TO COVID-19).

In order to let the glue dry, you can either hold the ball for a few minutes, or you could place the ball back into the jig with the eye hook standing in the guide hole as pictured (NOT AVAILABLE DUE TO COVID-19).

Once the glue has dried, the eye hook is successfully attached to the ball and all that is left to do is attach a chain. (these steps can be found in the modified instructions, so they will not be written out here).

Step 3: Prepare the Barrel Clasp

As pictured, all of the barrel clasps are composed of 2 pieces that screw into one another, and each has a connecting point for a chain. One of the two connecting pieces will be able to move around a little bit in the barrel clasp. Find this one, pull it out of the barrel clasp as far as possible, and use scissors or wire cutters to cut the loop away. The other half of the connecting point will fall out of the barrel clasp, and you will be left with a barrel clasp that has one connecting point and one flat half, as pictured.

Step 4: Glue Flat Side of Barrel Clasp to Ball of Choice

Firstly, prepare the superglue you purchased. If you got the same glue as me, you will have to screw the nozzle onto the glue to get it prepared for use, shown in the image attached.

Once you have done this, wipe the ball of your choice down as much as possible to get rid of dust or debris on the spot you will glue the flat part of the barrel hook.

Put a small dab of super glue on the flat part of the barrel clasp you broke the hook off of (covering the flat face), and then place it on the ball wherever you would like your chain to attach. I placed mine directly above the 3 (as seen in the image). Hold the ball in place and let the glue dry. If you have a pointy object, pushing extra glue back towards the barrel clasps base does not hurt, but is not necessary.

Step 5: Preparing the Chain

Now that the ball has the bottom half of the barrel clasp on it, we have to get the top half attached to a chain.

The chain we got from Micheals can be broken as shown in the image by wedging an object into one of the links separating the connecting point of one of the links. Do this to a link of your choice, depending on how long you want your pool ball chain to be, and put the rest of the chain away. You can see my example on the image attached.

If you are doing this to a chain that has already been broken once, be sure to break a chain on both sides of the chain. Insert a clip hook (included with the barrel clasps) onto one side of the chain and close the broken chain so that the chain can be attached to other objects.

Step 6: Add Top Half of Barrel Clip to Chain

Once the chain is ready, slide the top half of the barrel clasp (that you did not break the connecting piece off of) into the chain link that was broken. Using your fingers, or a small set of pliers, crimp the broken chain back to a closed state so that the top half of the barrel clasp cannot separate from the chain. See the image for reference.

Step 7: Attach the Pool Ball

Now that the top half of the chain is ready, you can attach the pool ball by simply screwing the two-barrel clasps together. There is no need to over-tighten the barrel clips, simply tighten them until they do not move anymore, and avoid over-tightening them and breaking the glue bond to the ball. The final product is pictured.

Step 8: Reflection and Implications

Now that one of these is created, students are encouraged to create the rest of the keychains using the remaining supplies. It is important to reflect on a few things after completing this activity, however. Have students consider the following questions...

How did having 3D models/images of the jig assembly help me understand its use in manufacturing?

What could be done to make the manufacturing process of these products easier?

Could I sell one of these keychains for more than I spent creating it?

If so, how would I do this, and how much would I make? Could I create another set with the profits?

How does this example of entrepreneurship compare to other examples of entrepreneurship in the real world?