Ping pong pros needed!
September 10, 2007 11:17 AM   Subscribe

Building a ping pong table to ITTF rules? Wood/paint selection help needed.

I want to build a ping pong table. The construction isnt an issue but more of materials questions, mainly what type of wood and what type of paint to use.

I'd like to follow the ITTF exact rules:

'The playing surface shall yield a uniform bounce of about 23cm when a standard ball is dropped on to it from a height of 30cm.'

'The playing surface shall be uniformly dark colored and matt, but with a white side line, 2cm wide, along each 2.74m edge and a white end line, 2cm wide, along each 1.525m edge.'

So for the wood, (most guides say use MDF, how thick should I go?) I am also playing on carpet, would i need spikes that go through the carpet (like for speaker stands) for a better bounce?

The surface details arent very clear as for the type of paint used isnt very clear. Googling it seems to result in using chalkboard paint.

Does anyone have experience building ping pong tables?
posted by mphuie to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
etc... "building ping pong table" in google.
posted by PowerCat at 11:47 AM on September 10, 2007

Response by poster: I've already google'd around.

1 Builds the wrong size ping pong table.
2 Pay site.
3 They use plywood. Every other site says thats a no no. (Doesnt bounce).
4 Pay site.
5 Doesn't provide any information on how to build.
posted by mphuie at 11:57 AM on September 10, 2007 [2 favorites]

I'm not sure about materials, but I can say that you definitely do not need spikes. A table at rest on a carpet exerts a downward force proportional to its mass. A ping pong ball -- which has an insiginificant mass compared to the table -- would have to be slammed downward onto the table with superhuman force in order to further compress the carpet causing it to absorb some of the impact resulting in a lower bounce than would have occurred had you used spikes.

As for the playing surface, have you considered a laminate? I'd guess applying a matte laminate to 3/4" MDF (or thinner with sufficient underside bracing) would get you enough rigidity for uniform bounce.
posted by pmbuko at 1:34 PM on September 10, 2007

Just a suggestion: I guess you could get offcuts of mdf of various thicknesses from a timber supplier, and just try out the bounce on them. Mdf seems like a good candidate because of its stability (won't warp, crack) and weight. For what it's worth, my table-tennis table, which may or may not conform to the standard, seems about 5/8-3/4 inch thick and appears to be coated with a very thin laminate on sides and edges. I guess that's partly to protect the surface (mdf isn't terribly tough), but on the playing surface I imagine it might also affect the bounce. So pmbuko may well have the right idea.
posted by londongeezer at 2:43 PM on September 10, 2007

"on sides and edges" I mean on top and bottom faces as well as edges, i.e. all over.
posted by londongeezer at 2:44 PM on September 10, 2007

I would bet the paint has an effect, and that laminate would be a poor choice. A ball with significant topspin, for example, will "grab" the table and bounce at a different trajectory than a ball without spin. If you use laminate, I'd bet that the ball-table friction would be reduced too much.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 4:46 PM on September 10, 2007

This link recommends chalkboard paint. Sounds about right, IMHO.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 4:54 PM on September 10, 2007

I can't imagine that the thickness of the MDF would make a difference in the bounce of the ball. Along the lines of what pmbuko said, it would take superhuman force for the ball to move the playing surface. The benefit of a thicker surface is that it won't deflect as much/won't need as many support pieces to keep it flat.
posted by jewzilla at 11:31 PM on September 16, 2007

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