Combine a little black dress, door skin, shelf liner, window sill and a dowel and you get a custom Table Tennis Paddle. There are a few more parts to the bill of materials. Like a couple of screws. You don't need to own them, you can borrow them for a half hour.
You also need some glue, water and basic hand tools. I used a drill, band saw, sander, knife, scissors, paint brush, bowl and solar oven. I am not sure if the solar oven counts as basic hand tool but it does speed up the glue drying process.
Step 1: Base
Table tennis is a great sport that needs a minimum of equipment. As my skill level has improved from beginner to beginner + I wondered if a better paddle (or Bat) would improve my game. There are pen hold and shake hand grips. Prices range from a few bucks to $500. The obvious answer was to make my own, from scraps around the house. My thought was to make a light weight, pen hold grip with a flexible blade and a lot of spin.
For the base I started with a door skin scrap. I traced a paddle on the thin plywood cut and sanded to the line.
Step 2: Rough Cut Handle Halfs
The left over window sill was light weight pine which was cut slightly larger than the real paddle. Like usual I did not have any plans so kept comparing it to a real paddle. I am not sure we can call them halves as the handle has three pieces if you include the base that is sandwiched between the two parts. then I get confused when I cut it in half and end up with two halves. English is 2 crazy 2 understand so please forgive the grammar errors.
Step 3: Attach Handles to Base
To shape the handle it seemed necessary to temporarily attach the parts to the base. I countersunk two dry-wall screws after clamping the halves to the base.
Step 4: Shape Handle to Fit Your Hand
Let the fun begin to custom fit this to your hand. Decide how you prefer to hold it and sand away the parts that are uncomfortable. The belt sander with the disk cut the pine quickly. But not quick enough for me to remember after taking the halves off the base. I drew lines across the sharp parts so I could remember where to sand.
Step 5: Cut Fabric & Dilute Glue
Decoupage was going to be the title of this step as it sounded really sophisticated. Much more impressive than watered down glue. I used Titebond III with equal parts water. You may want to use cheaper glue but I bought a big bottle of this for a dollar at a garage sale.
Step 6: Glue Fabric to One Side of Base
I can't believe I took all these pictures to show how to glue a piece of fabric to a board. That was because on previous Instructables I got complaints I did not show all the steps. For those that are pedantic I included the obvious details of using a paint brush in a bowl on an old cookie sheet to apply the diluted glue to the base then place the square form the little black dress on the base and apply another coat of diluted glue.
Step 7: Dry Glue in Solar Oven
I am so proud of this discovery I hope to get some OOHS and AAAHS.,,,,,,,,,,,,,
When the grandchildren visit I build wooden toys they design from the scrap box. They draw something on a board. I cut it out with a saw and we glue it together. We found if you tossed it in the solar oven Titebond Glue dries in 15 minutes strong enough to add on the next pieces. This is great for those like me that don't have the patience of 5 year old.
Step 8: Mix Second Coat of Glue Attach Handles and Bake
Fifteen minutes has almost passed so the glue is almost dry enough to coat the back side of the paddle. Put Cling Wrap on the front of the paddle and place it face down on the cookie sheet. Dilute more glue and repeat the little black dress routine on the back of the paddle. Since you already have glue on your hands you might as well glue on the handle halves.
Try to keep your dominant hand glue free so you can run your screw gun without getting it glued to your hand. (That is why we are not using Super Glue today.)
Step 9: Trim Fabric and Sand
Now for the hard part. You need to wait a full 20 minutes for the glue to dry hard enough to trim the stiffened fabric. Go take a break far away from the solar oven so you won't be tempted to play with the wet glue. I would suggest eating lunch, mopping the floor or weeding the garden.
Now that the glue has dried a FULL 20 minutes trim the fabric with a knife. You can also sand the fabric off but make sure you hand sand down away from fabric side. This is to not peel the little black dress from it's base.
Step 10: Glue Rubber (shelf Liner) to Front of Paddle
This was all looking really professional until this step. The thin base was reinforced with a fiber substrate allowing for strength and flexibility while maintaining the 27% reduction in weight. Now lacking a high tech table tennis rubber I opted for a scrap of shelf liner. This was not my best work. I used Pliobond glue. This is industrial rubber cement. It has a powerful odor that not only makes your eyes water but kills brain cells. I can blame this failure on the glue sniffing. Normal application is to coat both sides let dry until tacky then re-coat one side and clamp together. Unfortunately the glue worked great but it showed through on the front side of the paddle.
I tested the paddle and it performed well but was embarrassed by the stains. The next day I peeled it off and scraped the base clean. I used Elmers Multipurpose Spray adhesive. I sprayed both the new shelf liner and the base front and clamped them together within the 15 second time limit.
Step 11: Peg Screw Holes
This step is not necessary but it adds some class to this scrappy little paddle. Remove the screws and enlarge the holes to 1/4" . I took an old dowel and sanded it to a slight taper added some glue and whacked it into the holes with a paint scraper. You can use any sort of whacker that you can reach without going to the tool shed. Cut the dowels off close to the handle and sand until smooth.
I was too lazy to clean a paint brush to varnish a 5" handle. Hence this step was not shown as I varnished the handles wearing a vinyl glove and my hand as a paint brush. This is actually a very effective way to varnish roundish objects. You dip it in the can and use your hand as squeegee to remove the excess.
Step 12: Conclusion
This paddle was much more comfortable than my old favorite in the pictures. The shelf liner was more sticky allowing better spin. It was easier to do a fast flick of the wrist because of the 27% lighter. I don't know if the more flexible blade makes a difference.
It is necessary to hit harder with this as the shelf liner is more dead. I suspect I may purchase a commercial rubber some day. However for now I am pleased. When I played with my friends they were impressed that my spin had improved enough to ace them with some serves. (Perhaps it helps that some of my paddle partners are in their mid 80"s)
27% lighter than a commercial paddle and it fits my hand.