" …working with Spaceballs "

Information on Spaceballs and their use in constructing panel doors .

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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 haveeven 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, we agree Spaceballs do make doors sound strong and well built … 
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.
Remember to install Spaceballs correctly ! Use the correct size of Spaceballand  the proper spacing.  Doors with the oily spots, that have been cut open and examined, were found to have the Spaceballs crushed in the dado, hardly any spacing was left for the Spaceball to work properly.
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 assembly.
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.BBO :Sounds good until one of the pins comes through thefront of your door and it does happen !  With proper installation,the Spaceballs will not flatten and will work properly keeping panels centered.  As for Cost ….Cost per door, between 15 to 25 cents !!!!
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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