How to Cut a Ping Pong Ball in Half?

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Key Takeaways:

  • Using a drill bit by starting with a pinhole and slowly scraping off the plastic is an effective method.
  • Carefully cutting along the circumference with an X-Acto knife can split the ball in half.
  • A box cutter or Stanley knife can also be used to slice a ping pong ball in two.
  • Wrapping paper around the ball and cutting along the edge with scissors is a safer technique.
  • Precision and caution are vital to avoid injury when cutting a ping pong ball in half.

Ping pong, also known as table tennis, is a popular indoor recreational activity played by over 40 million competitive and recreational players worldwide. The game is played on a table divided by a net with standard ping pong balls made of a light plastic material. While ping pong balls are designed to withstand the rigors of competitive play, there are situations that require splitting one in half.

This article will provide a comprehensive, step-by-step guide on the various methods and tools that can be utilized to successfully and safely cut a standard ping pong ball in half. The content will cover techniques using common household tools like drill bits, X-Acto knives, box cutters, and scissors. Relevant details on precision, control, and injury prevention when handling sharp tools and cutting into plastic will also be highlighted.

Readers will learn multiple techniques to cleanly slice a ping pong ball in two equal halves. The information presented will equip anyone attempting this task with the knowledge to evaluate the options and confidently execute the approach best suited to their needs and available resources. With ping pong’s global popularity, these skills can prove useful for crafters, experimenters, and anyone interested in working with ping pong balls.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Cutting a Ping Pong Ball in Half

Method 1: Using a Drill Bit

One effective approach to cutting a ping pong ball in half involves using a drill bit to gradually wear away the plastic. Here is a step-by-step walkthrough:

Things You’ll Need

  • Ping pong ball
  • Power drill
  • Various sized drill bits (start with 1/16″ and increase incrementally)
  • Clamp or vise to secure the ball

Step 1: Secure the Ball

  • Place the ping pong ball in a clamp or vise, making sure it is held steadily and unable to rotate. The clamp should be tightened only enough to hold the ball in place, not deform it.

Step 2: Create a Pilot Hole

  • Using a 1/16″ drill bit, begin drilling a pilot hole in the ping pong ball. Apply minimal pressure, letting the drill do the work.
  • Position the drill bit near the equator of the ball. The goal is to drill halfway into the ball, reaching the center.
  • The bit will grab and grind away the plastic material until it penetrates the surface.

Step 3: Enlarge the Hole

  • Switch to successively larger drill bits, such as 1/8″, 3/16″, and 1/4″, repeating the process to gradually enlarge the hole towards a full cut.
  • Continue until the hole extends through one half of the ping pong ball diameter.

Step 4: Repeat for Second Cut

  • Reposition the clamped ball and repeat steps 2-3 on the opposite side until the two openings meet and the ping pong ball separates into two clean halves.

Method 2: Cutting with an X-Acto Knife

X-Acto and other hobby knives provide a sharp cutting tool that can slice through a ping pong ball’s plastic shell. Follow these instructions when using an X-Acto knife:

Things You’ll Need

  • Ping pong ball
  • X-Acto knife or other sharp hobby knife
  • Cutting mat or wood surface

Step 1: Stabilize the Ball

  • Place the ping pong ball on a cutting mat, wood board, or other surface that will securely hold it in place during cutting.

Step 2: Orient the Knife

  • Position the X-Acto knife at the ball’s equator, the midpoint circumference between the top and bottom.
  • Hold the knife steadily at a 45 degree angle, with the blade tip pointing into the plastic shell.

Step 3: Apply Pressure and Cut

  • Applying light, consistent pressure, push the blade into the ball’s shell and cut along the equator line.
  • Let the blade do the work of slicing through the plastic. Do not force or wiggle the blade.
  • Continue guiding the blade in a straight line all the way around the ball’s circumference.

Step 4: Separate the Halves

  • Upon completing the cut, gently pull the ball halves apart to separate them.
  • You may need to trim any remaining plastic pieces with the knife.

Method 3: Using a Box Cutter or Stanley Knife

Box cutters and their retractable razor blades are another household cutting tool option for splitting ping pong balls. Take care with the following steps:

Things You’ll Need

  • Ping pong ball
  • Box cutter or Stanley knife with fresh blade
  • Cutting surface

Step 1: Secure Ball on Surface

  • Place the ping pong ball on a cutting board, countertop, or other surface where it can lay flat and not roll around.

Step 2: Position Knife Blade

  • Orient the box cutter’s blade at the midpoint of the ball’s circumference.
  • Keep the blade flat against the ball at a 90 degree angle to the surface below.

Step 3: Apply Pressure and Cut

  • With the ball secured in place, press down with the blade and cut into the ping pong ball.
  • Maintain a constant pressure and cut along the centerline of the sphere.
  • Let the razor blade smoothly slice through the plastic; do not wiggle or twist the knife.
  • Complete the cut all the way around the circumference.

Step 4: Separate the Halves

  • Once the cut is complete, use your hands to pull the halves apart and separate the ping pong ball.

Method 4: Cutting with Paper and Scissors

For a safer, child-friendly approach, wrapping paper around a ping pong ball provides a cutting guide to follow with scissors. Here is how to execute this technique:

Things You’ll Need

  • Ping pong ball
  • Scrap paper or wrapping paper
  • Scissors
  • Tape (optional)

Step 1: Wrap Paper Around Ball

  • Take a ping pong ball and cut a strip of paper approximately 4 inches tall by 16 inches long.
  • Wrap the paper around the midpoint of the ball, overlapping the edges slightly.

Step 2: Secure the Paper (Optional)

  • Use a small piece of tape to hold the wrapped paper in place if needed.

Step 3: Position the Scissors

  • With the paper wrap held tight against the ball, position a pair of sharp scissors along one edge of the paper.

Step 4: Cut Along the Paper Edge

  • Keeping the scissors flush against the paper, carefully cut along the exposed edge guiding them around the complete circumference.
  • The scissors will cut through the ping pong ball as you trace the paper seam.

Step 5: Unwrap and Separate

  • Once the cut is complete all the way around, unwrap the paper and gently pull the ping pong ball halves apart.
  • For cleaner edges, an additional trim with scissors may be required.

Evaluating the Cutting Methods

Which option is the best technique for cutting a ping pong ball in half? There are pros and cons to each approach:

  • Drill bits provide a gradual scraping method but require holding the ball steady in a clamp and changing bits multiple times.
  • X-Acto knives enable precise direct cuts but have a higher risk of slipping and injury due to the exposed blade.
  • Box cutters also directly slice the plastic but the retractable blades add safety. However, securing the ball while cutting can be difficult.
  • Paper/scissor cutting is safer and more accessible but produces less smooth edges requiring additional trimming.

The ideal method depends on the available tools, individual skill level, and priorities like speed versus safety. For household use, the paper/scissor technique may provide the right balance for most people. Those with workshop experience may opt for drill bits or X-Acto knives.

Cutting a Ping Pong Ball: Key Precautions

While splitting a lightweight ping pong ball may seem straightforward, special care should be exercised when cutting objects with blades, knives, scissors, and other sharp tools:

  • Work on a stable surface – Choose a cutting space with a level, steady platform to avoid slips and errors.
  • Secure the ball – Prevent unwanted ball movement and rolling when cutting by holding it in a clamp or solidly on a board.
  • Use adequate lighting – Ensure good overhead lighting on the work area so you can see clearly while handling a sharp blade.
  • Cut away from yourself – Position hands and body to avoid accidental cuts toward yourself if the blade slips.
  • Take your time – Rushing increases risks, so proceed slowly and purposefully through each cutting stage.
  • Store blades safely – When finished, safely tuck away sharp tools where children or others will not access them.

Exercising proper precautions is vital, especially when children may be assisting. Adults should closely supervise use of all cutting tools. While ping pong balls are not difficult to slice when approached carefully, focusing on safety and precision is critical.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cutting Ping Pong Balls in Half

How deep should I cut into the ping pong ball with an X-Acto knife?

When using an X-Acto knife, only apply enough pressure to pierce the outer plastic shell. Cutting too deeply increases the risk of slipping and injuring yourself with the blade. Let the knife’s sharpness slice through the shell with a light guiding touch along the equator.

Can I cut the ball freehand or do I need a guide?

It is highly recommended to use a guide for straight cuts across the circumference. Trying to manually cut freehand around a 3D sphere is very difficult and prone to errors. Opt to wrap paper around the ball as a guide or invest in a custom cutting jig for precision.

What size drill bits should be used to cut a ping pong ball in half?

Start with a 1/16-inch bit to create a pilot hole, then gradually increase bit size from 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch and possibly 3/8-inch for a full cut. The sequence and increments for step-up bits will depend on the pliability of the specific ping pong ball plastic.

Can ping pong balls be cut using a typical kitchen knife?

It’s not advisable to cut a ping pong ball with a kitchen knife. These knives are not designed for detailed precision work, often have a blunt edge, and are prone to slipping off the curved surface. Use an X-Acto hobby knife or razor box cutter instead for clean cuts.

Is it better to use a straight-edge or curved-edge blade for cutting ping pong balls?

A straight-edge blade like an X-Acto knife or razor box cutter provides the most control for following the circumference path. Curved-edge blades risk deviating from the centerline cut and producing uneven halves. Maintain a straight wrist and stroke direction throughout the cut.

The Purpose and Uses of Cut Ping Pong Balls

Why go through the effort of learning how to slice ping pong balls in half? There are several creative uses and applications:

Craft Projects – Halved ping pong balls make fun decorative additions for DIY crafts. Paint them, glue items inside, add lights, make ornaments – the possibilities are endless!

Sensory and Education Tools – Placing hands in two ball halves provides tactile stimulation for children with sensory processing disorders. The concave shape also makes a great magnifying glass.

Beer Pong Accessories – Some beer pong enthusiasts cut holes in ping pong balls to reduce water drag and speed up the game. Just don’t drink and handle knives!

Optical Illusions – Cut hemispheres applied to walls or floors with the curved sides facing out create eye-tricking contours and dimensions.

Flotation Devices – Lightweight ping pong ball halves with flat bottoms can balance small objects that need to float on water.

Ping pong balls are cheap and easy to acquire, making their customized split halves useful for imaginative applications. With the simple methods and precautions covered in this guide, anyone can unlock the creative potential in halved ping pong balls.


Splitting ping pong balls in half requires careful handling of blades and cutting tools. When executed with proper guidance and safety precautions, materials like drill bits, X-Acto knives, box cutters, and scissors can all produce cleanly bisected ping pong spheres. Considering variables like precision needs, skill level, and tool availability will allow selection of the best approach. Remember to focus on methodical technique, patience, and injury prevention when cutting any object. Equipped with these techniques, creative minds can explore a range of arts, crafts, science projects, and more using halved ping pong balls.

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