Ping pong, an indoor game for all ages, requires minimal equipment. To make and customize your own ping pong paddles, trace the shape on plywood, cut it out with a handsaw and sand it down for a professional look and a comfortable feel. Homemade ping pong paddles may cost less than store-bought ones and create a project for you and your family.
Make the base of your homemade ping pong paddles with grade-A birch plywood, a strong, durable, yet affordable, wood you can easily cut and sand. The job requires several grades of sandpaper to get each piece to the best texture: 100, 300, 500 and 1000 grit. Use rubber sheets for the padding on either side of the head of the paddle. To connect a plywood piece to another plywood piece, use wood glue. To connect rubber sheeting to your wood paddle, use rubber cement. Use wood stain and finish to complete the paddle and give it a professional look.
Sketching the paddle onto the plywood may prove the most difficult part of the process. A ping pong paddle has a unique shape, including an oval with a flared bottom for the head and a rectangle with concave sides to fit your grip. Trace an existing paddle or draw freehand with a light pencil so that you can go back and correct your mistakes. When in doubt, a rectangle with soft edges works fine.
Clamp your plywood tracing down to a work table. Use a jigsaw to cut around the shape of the paddle as closely as possible. Sand your paddle on the top, bottom and around the edges to remove splinters and make the paddle safe and comfortable to hold. Make the handle thicker than the paddle head by cutting out two more pieces of plywood or a softer wood, such as cherry. Cut these handle pieces to shape, layer wood glue on the plywood base, place and clamp the extra handle pieces. Leave them clamped overnight to make sure they adhere.
Apply wood stain with a sponge, rag or a brush in a single, substantial layer. Let the wood stain dry overnight to seal the smooth surface of your paddle. Once the wood stain dries, apply a wood finish in the same manner. When the finish dries, trace two ovals out of your rubber sheeting to match the head of the paddle. Spread rubber cement over the head of the paddle and attach the rubber sheeting. Press your paddle into a book and place it under a couch or other heavy item overnight so the rubber adheres.
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