Once a month I host a beach bonfire brunch and am always on the hunt for fun beach games to bring. Instead of buying a paddleball set, I decided to make one! Now I have one more way to work off all the fire roasted foods!
Let's get to making some fun >>>>
Check out some of my other summer fun projects:
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Step 1: Supplies
(3x) 12 x 24 x 1/4" birch craft plywood*
(2x) 4 x 24 x 1/4" bass craft wood
(1x) sheet of chipboard at least 28" x 18"
sanding paper (220 & 400 grit)
1/2" painters/artists tape
double stick tape
3 colors of indoor/outdoor spray paint (1 for the handles / 2 for paddle stencils)
UV resistant clear coating (either acrylic or varnish)
laser cutter OR exacto knife with cutting mat / band saw
vertical spindle sander OR wood files / sanding blocks
vertical belt sander OR sanding blocks / elbow grease
well ventilated area for spray painting
newspaper or craft paper to catch overspray
Step 2: Cutting Out the Paddles
I have access to a laser cutter at work, so decided to use it to cut out all the parts for the set. If you don't have access to a laser cutter DON'T WORRY! You can still make these bad boys with more old school tools. I've provided files for both of the following cut methods:
Using a laser cutter:
NOTE: The settings I provided here are for an Epilog 120 Watt Legend EXT laser cutter. Adjust settings if you have a different machine. If you need a refresher on how to laser cut, click here.
- download the attached files 'Paddle test.ai' and 'Paddle.ai'
- put one piece of your 24' x 12" x 1/4" birch ply in the machine
- adjust the laser head to the correct height for the material and press reset
- open the vent and make sure your vent system is on
- open 'Paddle test' in illustrator on the computer associated with the laser cutter
- put settings to: vector only / speed = 12% / power = 80% / frequency = 500
- also be sure to enter the material size, 24" x 12" in the 'Piece Size' fields
- press print to test the settings on your material
If the test cut all the way through your material on the first pass, it means the settings are good! If not, move the test box to the right (to avoid the material the paddle will be cut out of) and try upping the power a bit and maybe also slowing down the speed. You want to have it cut all the way through the first pass without leaving a lot of smokey, burned edge on the underside of the material.
Once you've worked out the settings...
- open 'Paddle' in illustrator
- print using the successful settings
- repeat so that you end up with 2 paddles cut out
Using a band saw:
- on a computer printer, print out (2x) the attached file, 'Paddle.pdf', on 11 x 17 paper (or on 2-3 8 1/2 x 11 pages and tape them together)
- use spray adhesive or double stick tape to attach the patterns to the birch ply
- put on safety glasses and carefully cut out the paddles leaving about 3/16" material around the edge of the paddle pattern
- use the belt and spindle sander to clean up the material to the pattern line
Step 3: Cutting Out the Handles
The handle is made up of two handle 'halves', one on each side of the birch ply, so each paddle needs two pieces cut, 4 pieces total. (see images in Step 7) I suggest cutting 2 extra pieces just in case you end up needing to practice using the sander like I did before perfecting the shaping process.
Follow the same directions in the precious step for cutting the handles, whether you're using a laser cutter or a band saw.
NOTE: Use the same laser cutter settings as for the paddles, just adjust the material size to 24" x 4".
Step 4: Cutting Out the Stencils
If you'd like to use the same stencils that I did for my set, I've attached all the files needed for both laser cutting the stencils and cutting them out with an exacto knife.
If you're laser cutting, follow the same directions in Step 2.
NOTE: Change the laser cutter settings to: speed = 50% / power = 20% / frequency = 500 and adjust the material size to the size of your chipboard. (Material needs to be a minimum of 28" x 18") You will also need to adjust the canvas size of the Illustrator file if your material size is a different size. AND KEEP THE LITTLE DOT FROM THE CENTER OF THE ANCHOR HEAD! You'll be using it later.
If you're cutting them out by hand:
- on a computer printer, print out (2x) the attached 'Stencil anchor' file and (1x) the 'Stencil polka dot' file, on 11 x 17 paper (or on 2-3 8 1/2 x 11 pages and tape them together)
- use spray adhesive or double stick tape to attach the patterns to the chipboard
- place the chipboard on a cutting mat and use an exacto blade to cut out the stencils*, starting with the inner patter
*If cutting out the polka dot stencil is too daunting, you can always just use round stationary stickers and stick them on freehand, which will give you a reverse dot pattern OR you can use painter's tape and make stripes on BOTH backsides instead of just one like I did. (See Step 17 for pictures)
Step 5: All the Pieces
This is what you should end up with before heading to the wood shop:
(2x) birch ply paddles
(5-6x) bass wood handle 'halves'
Step 6: Shaping the Handles: Part 1
After putting on eye protection (either safety glasses or a face shield, because I'm SERIOUS ABOUT SAFETY - as you can see from my photo), use a vertical spindle sander and vertical belt sander to soften the edges of the handle halves. (like pictured)
If you don't have access to these tools, use wood files and freehand sanding to mimic the shapes pictured. Don't worry if they aren't exactly like mine. The most important thing is to just soften the edges so the finished product will be comfortable in the hand.
Step 7: Shaping the Handles: Part 2
Use small pieces of 220 grit sand paper to remove as much of the burnt edge as possible and smooth the entire surface of the handle. Then do a quick pass with 400 grit paper to further smooth the surfaces.
Step 8: Sanding the Paddles
Use 220 grit sand paper to 'just' soften the edges of the paddle pieces. If you're using a dark paint color to do the edges, don't worry about sanding the burnt edges off. If you chose to do the edges in a lighter color, take a bit more time and remove as much of the dark edge as possible.
Use 400 grit paper to smooth both side of each paddle.
Step 9: Painting the Handles
In a spray booth or well ventilated area (aka outside), set your 4 handle halves face up on a piece of newspaper or craft paper.
Shake your spray can super well. This will ensure the best coverage.
Put on your respirator if you have one.
Holding your spray can about 12-14" away from the handles, apply the first coat in even side-to-side passes, just slightly overlapping each pass of paint.
Let the first coat dry (to the touch) and then give them all a light sanding with 400 grit paper.
Repeat this for 3 more coats.
Step 10: Prepping the Stencils
In between coats, while the handles are drying, apply double stick tape to the back of your stencils, like pictured.
Step 11: Prepping the Paddles for Stenciling
Before spraying on the stencil paint, it's important to apply one coat of the UV resistant clear coating so that the colored paint doesn't bleed into the wood.
Place the paddles onto some dry craft paper, set two of the handle halves in place* and spray a thin coat of the clear coat on the main paddle area (there's no need to coat the handles).
*I did this so that the area of the paddle to be glued to the handle would stay clear coat free!
Allow to dry before flipping the paddles to do the other side and repeat the steps above.
Once both sides are dry, use 400 grit paper to gently sand the paddle surfaces.
Step 12: Applying the Stencils: Part 1
Remove the backing of the double stick tape on the anchor stencils and carefully apply them to the paddles.
Be sure that the edge of the stencil and the edge of the paddle line up as closely as possible.
Put small pieces of double stick tape on the circles from the inside of the anchor handle and stick them in place.
Step 13: Anchors Away!
Head back to the spray booth/ventilated area.
On dry craft paper, place one of the paddles, anchor stencil up.
From DIRECTLY OVERHEAD / TOP DOWN spray a thin coat of red* paint on one of the anchors WITHOUT SPRAYING THE EDGE.
Then swap it out for the other paddle (after replacing the craft paper or waiting for it to dry). Paint both the other anchor and the edge of this paddle blue*.
The reason I didn't have you spray the edge of the red anchor paddle is that I wanted both paddle edges to be blue and I didn't want any blue overspray getting on the red anchor stencil.
After a few minutes, remove the stencils and allow the paddles to completely dry.
*Feel free to use any combination of colors you want!
Step 14: Applying the Stencils: Part 2
On the 'naked' side of one of the now dry paddles, use the 1/2" painter's tape to create a diagonal stencil with a covered handle area like pictured.
Repeat on the other paddle OR apply the polka dot stencil.
Step 15: Colorific!
After shaking your paint can well, spray both stencils from the TOP DOWN with just one pass of paint.
Allow to dry for a few minutes and then remove the tape and stencil. Then let them completely dry before the next step.
Step 16: Gluing on the Handles
Now it's time to glue on the handles!
Apply a thin layer of wood glue on one handle half and spread it out evenly using a small wood or cardboard scrap.
Glue it in place, making sure that the edges of the handle half and paddle line up as best as possible.
Repeat on the other paddle.
Then right away, flip the paddles over, resting the top of the paddles on a 1/4" piece of wood, and glue on the remaining two halves.
Pick up one paddle at a time and make sure that the two halves are lining up with paddle edges and each other. You shouldn't need to clamp them, but if there are any gaps present, press/hold them back in place with your hands until they stay put. (This should only take a couple of minutes.)
Step 17: The Finishing Touch
Once the handle glue has set, head back to the spray booth for one last hoorah.
Lay the paddles down on a fresh or dry piece of craft paper and apply a thin even coat of the UV resistant clear coating.
Let dry and then flip and repeat on the other side.
Once dry, give both sides of each a light sanding with 400 grit paper.
Repeat the above steps for one more coat.
Step 18: Play Time!
Now the only thing left to do is... head to the beach and do some product testing!
You will need a fun adversary to play with, and I'd like to say thanks to mine, Randofo. Thanks Randy!
I hope some of you makers give these a go, as I have no doubt they will provide hours and days of outdoor playtime. And who wouldn't love that?
Happy making everyone!
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