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I'm developing a board game that requires 92 balls that are 1" diameter each. The cheapest balls I've found this size are wood. (I'm skipping Durofoam / Styrofoam because I want them to have some weight.) Since I'd like to make 10 copies of the game to start with, I'll need 920 colored balls that are 1" each.

Which leads me to the idea of painting these wooden balls. I'd like them to be 2 bright colors, like green for one player and blue for the other. Is there an easy process for painting a 1" ball? And do you have any ideas for painting nearly 1000 of them? (Or do you know of an arts-and-crafts source I could buy these from?)

  • I'm wondering if there is a way to put the balls into an enclosed frame(enclosed structure/frame, with closed bottom) and then take spray paint and gently go over the balls in a sweeping motion. Then shake the enclosure, so they rotate. – Lyssagal Jun 13 at 17:30
  • @Lyssagal I'd envisioned something like that too, but once they rotate the paint would stick to the frame/structure (at least in my mind's eye). – CreatedByBrett Jun 13 at 18:00
  • Are these plain wooden balls or do they have holes in them (more like wooden beads)? – Elmy Jun 13 at 20:28
  • @Elmy thanks for asking! They're plain wooden balls. – CreatedByBrett Jun 13 at 22:47
  • You could just paint/dye/whatever half of them? This doesn't solve how to do it, but means there's less of them to do :) – Tyler Jul 13 at 4:10
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Painting by immersion would be fairly easy, but drying would be harder. Industrially I suspect they'd be kept moving with warm air.

They'd be too expensive for this quantity, and come in sets of too many colours, but some wooden balls are available dyed. If the ones you can get are pale wood, this may be an option, and drying would be more even than with paint. You'd soak them a bit then dry them in a tray shaking frequently (or rearranging frequently if you use the support I suggest for spraying.

They could be sprayed. It would be worth getting a proper sprayer and I'm more familiar with rattle-cans, but the key common factor is that however you spray you do lots of light coats drying in between. You'd rotate between coats so coverage was even. Reusable plastic egg trays are probably the best support, unless you get through huge amounts of eggs packed in plastic trays. This would take quite a lot of elapsed time, but not much active time - you'd spray a coat in a few minutes even over hundred of balls, then do something else while it dries.

But while looking online I found that 2 cm painted balls are available wholesale. Given your quantities you may be able to find them ready-made after all.

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  • Thanks for the steps, and also for that link! I've been searching online but hadn't found that site yet. – CreatedByBrett Jun 13 at 22:53
  • I had a quick look for a supplier closer to you, but couldn't find one. I doubt they're made in the UK though, so it's a matter of tracking down the importer – Chris H Jun 14 at 7:12
  • Spraying will still likely get you uneven results. Even if the layers are 'only wafer thin', you'll likely get relief, right? – Joachim Jun 14 at 10:58
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    @Joachim I haven't tried it on surfaces that curved, but in general I haven't found that to be the case. The layers are so thin as to barely cover the surface completely, and reorienting the ball every coat means the edges don't line up. Also if you imagine a straight stream hitting a curve, very little will stick at the edges, naturally tapering the coverage. – Chris H Jun 14 at 12:03
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Well, I have a couple of ideas. But these are just ideas, I don't know how well they will work.

1: Wood dye. Like @Chris H said, but maybe you try it yourself. Get some wood dye, put it in a small bowl, and soak the balls in it, then let them dry.

2: Spray painting. This is a rough idea, but it might work. Take a block of foam, or a sheet, this will be piece A, and lightly press the balls into it so they loosely fit. Spray, then let dry. Then, take another piece (piece b) and press onto the top. Now, together, flip them over, so piece A is on the top, and B is on the bottom. Now pull off A. Now the un-painted side of the balls are up. Spray them, let dry. Clear coat if you want, then flip again and clear coat the other side. Repeat this process. The use of the foam will make it so that you don't have to individually flip each ball one at a time, and it also holds them nicely so that they don't get weird marks from resting on a drying rack.

Those are the two simplest ideas I have that would be the most time efficient. If you go to a certain online ordering site that has the same name as a large rain forest, you can find a pack of 1000 uncolored wooden balls for about $140.00. One thing to keep in mind it that the dye might not be able to soak through a protective coating, and paint might not stick, so try to look for something that's unfinished.

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  • Thanks for your suggestions! Unfortunately I think that would be too much work for painting 1000 balls. BTW, I found a couple other sites that sell 1000 unfinished wood balls for just $50! – CreatedByBrett Jun 16 at 0:36
  • oh ok nice, well good luck on whatever works out! – DripKracken Jun 16 at 13:32

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