How to make your own softball or baseball tee for only $30!!
Step 1: Introduction
Being an avid softball player myself, and now an assistant coach, I am constantly looking for skills and drills to improve both my team and my own performance for the game. When it comes down to it, fielding is a major aspect of the game, but you cannot win a game without hitting and getting on base. Since my team this year is struggling with hitting certain pitches, I wanted to create a softball tee we can utilize at practice without having to take a lot of money out of tournament money.
For this project, I went to Menards for all of the materials I needed. The Menards I went to (on 84th and Highway 2 in Lincoln, NE) had all of the parts needed located in the Plumbing and PVC Pipe section. I would assume most of the stores would be set up the same way and that is where you will be finding most of these materials! The only parts I did not find in this area of the store were the Wood Screws, found in the Nail and Screw Department, and the Furniture Leg Tips, as this item was located in the Home Department which was right next to the Nail and Screw Department, and the Spray Paint which is located in the Paint Department. The employees there were very helpful with directing me to the right locations and finding the right size parts I needed to complete the softball tee. So if you’re having trouble, just ask! In total I spent roughly $29 compared to going to Scheel’s and buying a $99 SKLZ Weighted Pro-Level Tee.
Step 2: What You Will Need
For this project you are going to need the following materials:
· 4 Wood Screws - $.82 (I already had a few extra wood screws laying around)
· 1 Discharge Hose, also known as Washing Hose at Menards, 7/8” ID x 1 ¼” OD 2’ in length - $3.89
· Plywood (I went to the scrap section and found a few pieces that worked nicely, you can buy larger pieces and cut them down which is what I did) roughly 11” x 11” (I used the length of a piece of paper to measure) - $2.89
· 1 Galvanized Iron Floor Flange 1 ¼” - $5.59
· 1 PVC Pipe Fitting, you’ll want to find the Schedule 40 Male Threaded Adapter 1 ¼” – $5.45
· 1 PVC Pipe, again look for Schedule 40, 1 ¼” diameter (This came with the only option of 4’ in length so you will need to cut it down, mine was cut to 2’) - $ 3.99
· 1 pack of Shepherd Rubber Furniture Leg Tips 1 ½” (These came in a pack of 4, I found that they were not available at Menards and got a 1 1/8” in place which just cause minor adjustments to the tee) - $2.59
· Spray Paint (optional, I used two colors) - $4.99 (total)
· Sand Paper (Optional, I had my own, I used 220 Grit) – $2.17
· Weights (Optional cost will vary depending on brand and size of the weight)
You will also need the following tools:
· Saw (I had a table saw that I was able to use otherwise a hand saw will do just as good)
· Screwdriver or Power Drill (I used the power drill due to how thick the wood was that I used but either one will work)
· Utility Knife
· Vice (Optional but would highly suggest if working alone)
Step 3: Getting Started
Take your plywood and measure it to your liking, I used a rough estimate of what a home plate would be and cut the wood to 11” x 11”. If you do not have a measuring tape near you, you can use a piece of paper to measure it by using the length of the paper which is 11”, this is what I did.
Step 4: The Base
On the plywood center the Galvanized Iron Floor Flange. Once you have centered the floor flange you will need to grab your screwdriver or power drill and your 4 wood screws. There will be 4 circular cut outs on the floor flange, this will be where your screws will be inserted to hold the flange in place. (Make sure that the screws are not too narrow, this will cause the flange to move out of place, the screw head should be bigger than the opening to the circular cut outs. Also be sure that the screws will not poke through the bottom of the wood, this could potentially cause injury when picking up the tee and will also cause it to be unbalanced.) Carefully screw or drill the screws into place. After you have screwed the floor flange into place try to move it around, if it does not budge you can continue to step 3, if it moves you will want to either tighten the screws more or try a larger head screw.
Step 5: The Base Continued
Next you will need your Schedule 40 Male Threaded Adapter PVC Pipe Fitting. The Galvanized Iron Floor Flange will have threading on the inside of the large middle opening. You will need to take the threaded side of the PVC Pipe Fitting and screw that into the Galvanized Iron Floor Flange. You will want to screw down the PVC Pipe Fitting as tight as you can get it.
On my tee the PVC Pipe Fitting did not go all the way down, as long as you have the Fitting touching the top of the plywood you are okay!
Step 6: The Stem
Be very cautious and safe with this step I would also suggest having another person with you for this step! For this step you will need your table or hand saw. I would advise using protective eye wear and gloves for this step. Take your PVC Pipe and measure the pipe to be roughly 2’. Again, I did not have a tape measure handy so I used paper to measure, I took 2 pieces length wise and used the width of my middle and pointer finger to estimate about 2’. Mark off where you are going to be cutting the piece at. (I had extra help with this as my friend was the one who owned the table saw and I felt more comfortable with her showing me and helping me operate the machine as she had all the proper safety equipment.) If you are doing this step alone you will want to have a vice to hold down the PVC Pipe as the Pipe will roll around when you are sawing it. Since I had another person with me when doing this step I was able to hold the PVC pipe in place while my friend cut the pipe at our mark. If using a table saw be cautious of the plastic particles that will fly off when cutting, they can be hot, be sure to wear protective eye wear and gloves!
Step 7: Adjustable Setting
Be very cautious with this step! For this step I had to improvise. They didn’t have the correct sizing of Furniture Leg Tips (1 ½”) so I got 1 1/8” thinking it would stretch enough to fit. I was wrong but there is a way to make it work that is just as efficient as the other sizing would have been! You’re going to be looking for a snug friction fit with the 1 ¼” Discharge/Washer Hose. I measured around the hose and used that as a reference when I was cutting. Here are the steps for either measurement:
A. 1 ½” Furniture Leg Tips – There will be a side that is already cut open and a side that is close (the part that would touch the floor if it was on furniture), this is the side you will be cutting out. If you have a power drill handy a 1 1/8” Forstner bit will come in handy and will be a safer option. If you have the drill and bit simply drill the closed side out so you can see out of each end. If you do not have the drill and bit you will need to use a utility knife to cut the closed end. This will take a lot of time as the rubber is very thick. After you have cut the rubber out you will need to stretch it out for a few minutes as you will be stretching the already opened end over the PVC pipe. It will not want to initially fit but with enough stretching and forcing it will! After you get part of it on you can put the leg tip on the floor and press the remaining piping in. Insert the other end of the PVC pipe into the Male Threaded Adapter (the base of the tee).
B. 1 1/8” Furniture Leg Tips – For this step you will need a utility knife along with the Furniture Leg Tip. Keep in mind you should have 4 of them so it’s okay to make a few mistakes. For this route I measured 1 finger width from the open ended tip and marked that spot. Use the utility knife to cut along that mark to make a ring out of the Furniture Leg Tip. Take your time and be careful as the rubber likes to move around when you are cutting it! After you finish cutting the tip you can insert the PVC Pipe into the Male Threaded Adapter (the base of the tee). Place the ring you cut out on the top of the PVC Pipe (the side that is not on the base of the tee).
Step 8: Ball Holder
This step will be the same for either method used above. Take the Discharge/Washer Hose and insert it into the Furniture Leg Tip/PVC Pipe (this is the stem of the base). This will be a tight fit but it is going to keep the hose in place so it does not slide down into the PVC pipe when you are trying to hit. This part of the tee will be adjustable so you can raise or lower the position of the ball depending on where you would like to practice your hitting. (If you chose to do the 1 1/8” Furniture Leg Tip, the only difference will be that if you want to raise the hose you will need to hold the ring you cut out in place, other than that it will slide easily when trying to lower the tee.)
Step 9: Optional Steps:
If you would like to, you can use sand paper to soften the sides of the plywood, I would recommend this step if you are going to be transporting the tee often to avoid splinters. I used 220-Grit sand paper and by hand sanded down the sides of the plywood to make a smooth finish.
Another step you can do is spray paint your tee to add in extra flare or make it more personal. I chose to spray paint my tee the colors of my softball team (black and purple) to set the tee apart from everyone else’s. When spray painting be sure to follow the directions on the pack of the can. I would recommend taking apart the certain pieces you want to spray paint, painting them, allowing the proper drying time, and then reassembling the tee after they have completely dried. For me the drying time was roughly 20 minutes but I let it dry overnight just to be safe!
Finally, you can also add weights to the base of the tee to assist the balance and sturdiness of the tee. The weights will help the tee stay up right when the bat hits both the ball and tee, or if you plan on using the tee during a windy day. I would recommend the weights to people who plan on using this tee who are slap hitters, power hitters, or younger children. Depending on the hitter, their weight, height, and style of hitting, I would use anywhere between 5-20 pounds.
Step 10: Conclusion
Even in the case that this homemade one doesn’t survive as long I’m sure I can find different materials that would broaden the life span and I’m already planning on creating new tee, a double tee, to focus on hitting inside and outside pitches or level swinging, along with making a few alterations to the materials I used in this project to make the tee a little more sturdy.