How to Make a Hole in the Middle of a Golf Ball

If you’ve ever tried to make a hole in the middle of a golf ball, you know this can be a difficult task.  With the right fixture, however, it can be pretty straightforward.

Safety Note: Be very careful when drilling golf balls.  Be sure to at least wear eye protection as with any shop operation.  Liquid core balls are especially tricky, as they are under pressure and have been known to spray hazardous liquid when pierced, so avoid this type.

Why would you want to put a hole in the middle of a perfectly good golf ball, you might ask?  My reason was to make a “ladder toss” set for my own amusement, but maybe you would like to attach a golf ball to the top of furniture or make a golf ball ornament.  Possibly you’d really like to screw your friend’s (enemy’s??) drive up by hollowing out the inside of a ball…  The possibilities are endless!

Thinker golf balls

"What shall I do with my balls?"

So how do you put a hole through a golf ball?  Probably most of you, upon reading this, thought about using a hand drill (hopefully not this one made from a pencil sharpener), but after some more thought most of your fingers started to hurt.  The other alternative would be to use a drill press or milling machine.  The challenge is how to fixture it without damaging the ball in the process and getting a repeatable hole.  For this, one would need to design a custom fixture.  Fortunately, I’ve already developed this fixture for you, so you can just follow the directions.  If making a fixture like this seems like too much work, or if you don’t have a shop equipped to do this available, I’m considering selling them, so if you’re interested in just buying some, shoot me an email at [email protected]

In order to fixture and manufacture your own hole-ridden golf balls, you’ll need the following equipment:

  • drill press or milling machine
  • vise for milling machine that opens four inches or more
  • 1 3/4 inch hole saw
  • miter or table saw
  • Drill bit of desired size
  • Piece of 2 x 4 lumber
actual saw and hole saw use

Use your hole saw in roughly the position shown here. After this, cut on the blue line

And of course you’ll need a golf ball.  Once you have this stuff, cut a slot down the middle of the 2×4 with your saw.  The cut will need to be at least 3 inches deep.  When this is done, cut a 1 3/4 inch hole in the middle of the previous cut about 1.4 inches from the end.  This is illustrated in the picture to the right.

Once this is done, cut the slotted end away from the rest of the 2 x 4 board so end up with two separate fixture pieces.  Cut the length so it fits snugly in your vise on the milling machine or drill press that you’re using.  The number I ended up at was 2.82 inches, but yours may need to be different.  If it’s a good fit, you’ll be able to insert it into your drill press, allowing very little lateral movement as shown below.

 

Golf ball fixture in vise

1/4 inch or 3/16 inch drills work well

With this fixture in place, you can now line up your vise and golf ball to be drilled through the middle.  Once you have it drilled, simply open the vise and take the ball out;  insert another ball, tighten and drill as before.  This should be a very repeatable process so you can make all the balls that you want.  If you have a CNC router, like the one I made from a kit, you could use that to make your fixture as well.

For what it’s worth,  I made the animated GIF below using GIMP to illustrate how the fixture works.

animated golf ball drill fixture

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Update 5/15/2010:

As part of another project I’m currently working on, I used this technique to put holes in a ping-pong ball.  The only thing that really had to be changed was that I used a 1 1/2 inch hole saw instead of 1 3/4 inch saw for the middle hole.  Here’s a picture of the new fixture:

Ping Pong ball drill fixture

Ping Pong ball drill fixture

 

 

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10 Comments.

  1. Interesting fixture.

    Some golf balls used to have a liquid center and will result in a dangerous jet of high speed clay and glycerine to shoot out, when using a new type be carefull with the first specimen.

    Starting the hole on a smooth hard ball is a bit harder and the machinists trick of placing a flat sheet (steel ruler) between the drill bit and the ball (or cylinder) when aligning it to see that the sheet is not tilted when pressed against the ball would be required.

    Using an anealled ball bearing (get red in a fire and let cool) lets you drill (and tap) a hole to make neat knobs or pendulums.

  2. Hackaday Links: January 13 - Hack a Day - pingback on January 13, 2012 at 9:21 am
  3. An interesting trick I read somewhere for drilling a hole in a ping pong ball is to slowly drill down with the bit twirling in reverse. It pulls the plastic pieces out – it works for drilling plastic or thin materials, too.

  4. Well done, also called custom jaws or soft jaws. These are often done for milling vises and lathe chucks as well. In the event you ever get a lathe, it can be done easily using a self-centering 3-jaw chuck as well.

    • Cool. I didn’t know the name of the fixture, so thanks! It would be awesome to get a lathe, but the CNC router and manual mill are keeping me pretty busy for now!

  5. Experimental Throwie Designs | JCOPRO.NET - pingback on May 20, 2012 at 9:05 pm
  6. You can get it always centered by making a V-block. Use these for tubing, for a ball make a 2-way V-block (so the “V” is actually a “VV” — reverse 4-sided pyramid shape) by a little cutting and gluing. Align the bit with the tip of the “VV” and drop your ball in there and yer good ta go! A little sticky tape will keep it from spinning when you drill it.

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