Monday, August 16, 2010

What do you have to say ..... ?

Comments from the WEB .…..

I have been searching the web, reading different
forums to find out what woodworkers are asking
and discussing when it comes to "Spaceballs". All the usual topics come up ....
panel rattle, panel movement, the size of
spaceball to use, panel pinning and if spaceballs
are indeed needed at all.

These are a few of the general questions/comments I came across.

Contributions from WOODWEB

Thank you to WOODWEB for allowing me to use segments of their forum postings.

We use a .188 Spaceball on our raised panel doors around
the center panel both at the top and bottom. My question
is how do keep the balls in place during the assembly? I have
even gone to adding a tiny spot of hot melt to hold these in place.

Spaceballs come in more than one diameter. Try the .26 balls
and your problem will be solved.

I use Spaceballs and think they work fine. My panels are 1/4
undersized all the way around.

That spacing is for the 260p ( 1/4" groove )
Yes…. It sounds like the wrong size Spaceballs was being used.
Spaceballs come in different sizes.
The available sizes are
260p ( 1/4" groove )
use minimum 5/32" spacing per side
232p ( 5mm groove)
use minimum 3 mm spacing per side
190p ( 3/16" groove)
use minimum 3/32" spacing per side

Using the correct size of Spaceball for your dado,
install using the correct spacing allowances and
Spaceballs will save you time and frustration!

I’ve never used spaceballs and never had a problem with any
of my work. I glue the panel in the dead center at the bottom.
Just add a drop or two of glue to hold it in place.

The method you are using works well. I have done the same and
even pinned the center of the panels. I use space balls now
because they make the panel tight and rattle free. I even use
them on flat panel doors where wood movement is a non issue.
It makes the door sound nicer when it closes with those little
shock absorbers in the panel groove.

Spaceballs also save the time of centering raised panels. They
do it for you.

Yes, there are many different ways to construct a panel door !
Using Spaceballs in your construction, centers your panels,
and panels are rattle free.
Yes, we agree they do sound strong and well built … good point !


The purpose of Spaceballs is to act as a spring to keep your
doors from cracking by centering them. The other advantage
is they keep the panels from rattling. Other products do not
spring back after being compressed for years. Foam does not
have enough spring in it to be effective year after year.
Many doors have been ruined and have had to be replaced, when
the oils or chemicals used in their makeup were squeezed out after
the doors expanded and stained the door panel.

We have nothing to add, but remember to install Spaceballs
correctly ! Use the correct size of spaceball and check on
the proper spacing.



I am constructing an end panel for a dresser using solid maple
boards glued up and installed vertically. The end panel will
be sandwiched between the front and back legs of the dresser
(20" in depth). I'm concerned about wood movement from front
to back (across the 20" dimension). Any recommendations for how to
join the panel to the front and rear legs? Dado with Spaceballs?

I'd put some mortised rails on the top and bottom. Make it a
floating panel. On the plus side, it would stiffen the whole

Spaceballs don't work - they go flat like a tire.
Not to mention the fact they take up space in the
frame that would be otherwise available for expansion
of the panel. A better method is to center the panel
in the frame and pin it in place, two pins centered
top and bottom. This keeps the panel anchored in
place but allows for equal expansion and contraction
in the frame. It's cheaper, too.

Spaceballs are supposed to flatten as the panel expands.
Then when the panel shrinks, they expand. Most of the
space they take up should be empty, anyway, to allow
for panel movement. They do an excellent job of eliminating
rattle. The time it takes to center and pin a panel more
than offsets the cost of the Spaceballs.

I understand how Spaceballs are supposed to work. I had
occasion to pull a number of panels apart that had been
in the field for a bit of time, and the Spaceballs had
turned to pancakes and stayed that way. I find it quicker/
easier to shoot two pins in the back of the frame than
stuff it with little balls. I would not argue any
significant difference in time either way. A proper fit
between panel and groove will take care of rattle.

I pin 'em at center, top and bottom, from the back.
More than one way to skin a cat.

Sounds good until one of the pins comes through the
front of your door and it does happen !

We use Space Balls exclusively and have for a number of
years. If anyone takes a door apart and finds that the
balls have flattened that would be an indication to me
that more balls should have been used. It would be like
putting two tons of cargo in a one ton capacity truck
and complaining of poor suspension. I have never had a
call back for a panel that was not held in place. From
our perspective Space Balls perform as advertised.

Amen !

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