How to drill holes in rubber balls?

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Forum topic by Elizabeth posted 09-29-2013 06:28 PM 13840 views 0 times favorited 32 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Elizabeth's profile


823 posts in 4606 days

09-29-2013 06:28 PM

I have some dowels and small rubber balls that are destined to become drumsticks for my son. Does anyone have suggestions for a safe way to drill a hole about halfway through the center of a small rubber ball?

32 replies so far

View joek30296's profile


53 posts in 4329 days

#1 posted 09-29-2013 06:34 PM

You might try freezing them and drill before they thaw out. I remember years ago seeing my boss drill some sheet rubber. He dropped some dry ice into acteone and them dropped the rubber in and drilled after being in the mixture for a few minutes.

-- "There are two theories to arguing with a woman....neither of them work"

View firefighterontheside's profile


21615 posts in 3319 days

#2 posted 09-29-2013 06:45 PM

I would say the freezing thing is worth a try. I’m curious.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View Blackie_'s profile


4883 posts in 3975 days

#3 posted 09-29-2013 07:09 PM

clamp them in a wooden clamp or between two blocks of wood using bar clamps and using the drill press, would be my guess.

-- Randy - If I'm not on LJ's then I'm making Saw Dust. Please feel free to visit my store location at

View PaulLL's profile


163 posts in 3439 days

#4 posted 09-29-2013 07:16 PM

I had same thought as Blackie, clamp them in wood handscrews, or between 2 blocks then you can clamp to drill press or bench top. If you don’t have a drill press, measure the depth you want to drill to on the ball, and mark that depth on your drill bit, put a piece of masking tape around the bit there so that you can easily see where to stop. Hope this makes sense, good luck!

View Tim's profile


3859 posts in 3424 days

#5 posted 09-29-2013 07:34 PM

Freezing seems like it would help with tearing and make a smoother hole, but may not be a good idea if you don’t have a drill press. It will make it harder to drill, making clamping more important. An awl or other pointed object to make an indent should help discourage the bit from wandering if you don’t have a drill press.

View Elizabeth's profile


823 posts in 4606 days

#6 posted 09-29-2013 07:37 PM

I will try freezing; thanks. I do have a drill press and will probably try to make some kind of jig for repeatability.

I thought about just clamping it, Blackie, but was concerned about the fact that the clamps would be compressing the rubber and increasing the pressure on the sides of the drill bit. Unless if I somehow clamped it on top and bottom and then drilled through the clamping surface; that’s a thought for the jig design I guess!

View Blackie_'s profile


4883 posts in 3975 days

#7 posted 09-29-2013 08:42 PM

Another thought, make an L shaped jig large enough to hold the ball sorta like a fence using 1/2 ply, drill a hole through it at the location to pierce the rubber ball with the tip of a wooden screw, screw the ball up against the fence to hold the rubber ball firm to the fence, clamp the fence to the table and see if that would work, only down side it would leave a small hole where the screw entered.

-- Randy - If I'm not on LJ's then I'm making Saw Dust. Please feel free to visit my store location at

View patron's profile


13722 posts in 4804 days

#8 posted 09-29-2013 08:48 PM

an alternate thought
if they are solid rubber
is to heat a smaller metal rod
(enough to melt not burn)
and melt it in
then squeegee the stick in
it should hold it tight

and round the end of the stick slightly
so it doesn’t rip the rubber going in
maybe some random notches on the stick end
so it has more to hold it on

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Stephenw's profile


273 posts in 3848 days

#9 posted 09-29-2013 09:12 PM

I would drill a deep hole in a block of wood, slightly smaller in diameter than the rubber ball. Drill a smaller hole all the way through the block. Force the ball into the hole with a clamp. Remove the clamp. Place the block of wood in the drill press vise and drill the hole in the ball. A brad point would probably work best for drilling in rubber. Use a dowel through the smaller hole to remove the ball from the larger hole.

This is an idea. I haven’t tried it.

View REO's profile


929 posts in 3537 days

#10 posted 09-29-2013 10:15 PM

Elisabeth you will most likely have trouble with the drill self feeding. Your idea about clamping on top and drilling through the clamp is a good one! set the depth stop on the drill as well so the drill doesn’t get sucked totally through the ball.

You can make a shaped clamp by drilling a pocket hole with the correct size forstner bit. drill so that the top surface of the ball hits at the same time as the edge of the hole. It needn’t be the same diameter as the overall diameter of the ball. If you screw two pieces of stock together and drill a pilot hole through then use the forstner to make the indentations in each half to the proper depth you can position the bottom piece on the table and clamp that first. Then clamp the ball in place with the second peice useing screws where they were used to hold the pieces in place to initially drill the pilot hole. Set the drill stop and have a go. The spur bit would probably be your best bet for the actual hole in the ball.

View NormG's profile


6576 posts in 4467 days

#11 posted 09-29-2013 10:24 PM

I have made several tongue drums for kids and have had to make the drums sticks for them. I used a Forster bit to drill hole in a 2×4, just enough for about a third of the balls to set in, set the depth of your drill bit (I use point twist) so the it will go slightly better than half way through the ball. Hold between thumb and first finger, drill slowly, when you set the the proper depth, let the drill bit sit a few seconds at the bottom and then remove. Should have a nice clean hole. I use 5/16” oak dowels.

Have fun

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


24666 posts in 5139 days

#12 posted 09-30-2013 03:01 AM

A quick easy way to make a holder for the balls is to paste wax one, make a hole larger than it in a couple of blocks of wood, use epoxy to form around it. Cut the blacks apart when the epoxy is cured. You’ll have a perfect holder for your jig.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View MrRon's profile


6323 posts in 4706 days

#13 posted 09-30-2013 07:26 PM

A regular twist drill won’t work. A hole saw might, if you take small “stabbing” shots at it. Make the hole first; then fit the stick to it after, trimming as needed for a good tight fit.

View MrRon's profile


6323 posts in 4706 days

#14 posted 09-30-2013 07:31 PM

Depending on the size of the ball, you could find a round glass Christmas ornament; coat the inside of the glass ball with a release agent or cooking oil; pour in silicon caulk; push in the stick; let set; break glass. Just an idea to file away.

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 5048 days

#15 posted 09-30-2013 07:35 PM

why not buy a set of drumsticks nothing will be better for the job even used they should be cheap enough .If you must do it yourself then start out with a centre drill then a standard drill with luck it should work.Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

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