Recently we posted a letter from a man who traveled to Moldova to volunteer at a camp for disadvantaged teens. He was a pickleball fan and knew that during his time there he would want to teach the kids how to play. He also knew that there was no money in the budget for paddles so he made his own. You can read more about him here.
Inspired by his DIY (Do It Yourself) spirit, we thought we’d let others know how to fashion your own paddles should the mood – or need – strike.
Change the height and width to fit the specs you want and print it off on paper that’s large enough to fit the whole picture with some breathing room (11×17 should fit the bill).
Note: according to the International Federation of Pickleball (IFP) Tournament Rule Book, “the most common paddle measurement is approximately 8” wide by 15 ¾” long. The combined length and width including any edge guard and butt cap shall not exceed 24”.
Step 2: Choose your paddle material and thickness. There is no restriction on thickness, but 3/8” is a common measurement. Every DYI paddle we’ve seen has been made from wood. Most are made from 5 or 7 layer plywood, while some are made from solid wood. High-tech materials like sheets of nomex or aluminum honeycomb with a graphite or fiberglass face are difficult to work with and can delaminate without a strong edge guard. Finding these high-tech materials is very challenging and expensive. We recommend sticking with wood for homemade paddles.
Note: according to the IFP “Paddle Material Specifications,” paddles “shall be made of relatively rigid, non-compressible material… That is the traditional concept of a paddle and that is why the game is not played with a stringed racquet. Paddles that produce a trampoline effect or an effect similar to a stringed racquet are specifically disallowed.”
Step 3: Cut out the template and affix it to your chosen paddle material using spray adhesive or similar glue product.
Step 4: Cut along the template guidelines using a cutting tool of your choice that is both accurate and strong enough given your chosen material.
Step 5: Remove the template from the paddle. Depending on what adhesive you used, removal may involve sanding, soaking, peeling, rubbing, or begging.
Step 6: Sand as needed to make all surfaces smooth and even. This could include the face and edges or anywhere your cutting tool went haywire.
Step 7: Customize your paddle face with paint, stickers, graphics, a picture of your ex, etc.
Note: back to the IFP rule book, “The paddle hitting surface shall not contain holes, indentations, rough texturing, tape, features that are reflective, or any objects or features that allow a player to impart additional or increased spin on the ball.”
Step 8: Build up the handle by gluing small pieces of wood or foam on either side of the handle. Wrap the handle with the tennis grip of your choice. Our most popular grip is the Gamma Ultra Cushion Contour Grip. Use electric tape at the top and bottom of the grip to create a polished look. Almost all paddle grip sizes are between 4 to 4 ½“ in circumference. Smaller grips allow for more wrist action, which aids in putting spin on the ball and enhances control. A larger grip will provide more stability and be easier on your arm. You can also wrap the edges of the paddle with tape if desired. Common tapes to use are electrical, duct, and athletic.
Step 9: Send us a photo of your new, custom paddle! Send to firstname.lastname@example.org or upload it to our Facebook page.
Step 10: Share this blog with all your DIY’er friends.
Step 11: Go rule the courts! ….but don’t play in a tournament. Effective January 1, 2014 homemade paddles are not permitted in USA Pickleball Association sanctioned tournaments. Rule 2.E.5.
Don’t want to go through all these steps? You can pick up a great wood pickleball paddle for less than $15!