Making your own bocce ball set to play with can be a great way to keep you and your family entertained without spending much money. You can make it as simple or complex as you’d like, although the steps will be similar for either.
We will walk you through how to make a simple but fairly durable Bocce Ball set at home, step by step. It does require you to get ahold of some materials, but overall it should save you some money. If this process isn’t quite what you’re looking for, there are some other options for you at the end.
Get a Ball the Size of a Pallino (1.5 – 2 in. Diameter)
To make a bocce ball set more economically than buying one, you’ll need to get creative and find cheaper balls that are the right size. For a cost comparison, you can buy a replacement pallino ball for around $20.00 on Amazon. So, your goal is to find something less expensive that will work just as well.
The size of a pallino ball actually varies depending on the country you’re playing in. The international standard pallino has a diameter of 1.6 inches, while the U.S. pallino is usually a bit bigger with a diameter of 1.97 inches. That said, you should really just aim for a ball with a diameter within the range of 1.5 – 2 inches, or 40 mm – 50 mm.
Here are some ways to get ahold of this kind of ball for well under $20.00.
- Steel spheres (2 in diameter)
- Plastic precision balls (2 in. diameter)
- Knob wood balls (2 in. diameter)
- Cork balls (2 in. diameter)
- Cat/dog toy balls (1.5 in. diameter)
Here is a 2″ wooden sphere on Amazon that could work.
Get a Set of 8 Balls the Size of Bocce Balls (3.5 – 4.5 in Diameter)
Depending on the size, you can get a decent set of Bocce Balls on Amazon for $40-$50. So, to save a little money making your own set, you’ll need to get ahold of 8 balls that are the right size (and the same size).
The right size is relative, but somewhere between 3.5 – 4.5 inches in diameter is best. You may have to settle for something a little smaller if you’re going for heavier yet still cost-effective.
Here are some ways to get ahold of a set of balls that size for well under $40.00:
- Colored foam balls (4 in. diameter)
- White foam balls (3.8 in. diameter)
- Wood balls (3 in. diameter)
- Cork Balls (3.25 in. diameter)
You can find these in craft stores pretty easily, but here’s a link to 3″ wooden balls on Amazon that will work. A standard bocce ball weighs about 920 grams, so I would go with something similar in weight.
Prime or Seal Your Set
Before you paint your set, you’ll want to prime/seal using the most appropriate method for your materials. Mod Podge is probably the best thing for foam balls. This could involve more than one coat. Follow the directions on the Mod Podge bottle.
If you’re using wood balls, you’ll want to get a spray primer for wood. You might also consider staining instead of painting. That’s up to you. For cork balls, you’ll need an all-purpose sealer.
Let Your Seal Set In
Whatever you’re doing to prime or seal your ball set, make sure you’re following the instructions for proper setting. Read the label on the sealant or primer for the best results. Before moving onto the next step, you might repeat this step a few times as necessary.
Apply Paint to Your 3.5 in. Ball Sets
Besides size, the next most important element of a bocce ball set is color. You need two distinct color variations, four of each color. If you want to get fancy, you can include a pattern.
Don’t paint until your primer or sealant has fully set in. Then, be sure to take your time. The more you put into this step, the more authentic your set is going to look.
Standard bocce ball colors are red and blue. But, you can obviously choose whatever colors you like best. But, the two main considerations for coloring your bocce ball set are contrast and the color of the pallino.
If you painted one set blue, then purple or light blue probably aren’t great choices for the other set. Blue and red, blue and yellow, or blue and green are far more typical combinations.
Typically, a pallino ball is white. If you went with a wood or steel option, you could take it in a different direction. Black and white isn’t the best idea if your pallino is white. However, it might be a solid choice if your pallino is steel or you paint it red.
Let Them Dry
The same patience you applied to the sealant step must be applied to your paint step. You’ll want a minimum of three coats regardless of the materials you’re using. To save time, you can move on to the next step and then return to the previous step for another coat while those balls dry.
Paint Your Pallino Ball (Optional)
If you have a white plastic ball for you pallino, you don’t really have to do anything to it. If you have a foam pallino, you might want to seal it with Mod Podge and call it good or paint it white. You could treat your wood pallino with a stain or a primer. You could paint it white or leave it natural if you’d like.
If you have a steel pallino, there’s really nothing you should do to it. In that case, your bocce balls ought to be brighter to get a good contrast. For cork, a good seal and a coat of paint is probably a good idea. You could leave cork natural too, though.
Apply At Least Two Additional Paint Coats
Be sure to coat your balls per paint instructions and your own judgment. Having at least three coats will make it last longer, as these balls will often knock into each other and may chip off paint.
You may also need three coats to get the color contrast you’re looking for. Be sure your balls are fully dry before applying additional coats of paint.
Then, enjoy your new bocce ball set! In case you’re looking for something even simpler, or perhaps something much more advanced, some other options are included below.
Other Ways to Make DIY Bocce Ball Sets
You don’t have to spend a lot of time or money to make a bocce ball set and play at home with it. In fact, you can do it with these materials:
- Tape (preferably packaging tape)
- Markers (different colors)
Most likely, you can get ahold of these materials without having to leave the house. Make sure you have two different colored markers.
Here’s a helpful video showing how to do it with this method:
- Simply make a small ball (the size of a pallino ball) with the tin foil.
- Make 8 larger bocce balls with the newspaper.
- Use the tape to help them keep their round shape.
- Color four balls one color with your marker and four balls a different color with a different marker.
Once you’ve done all of the above, you have a bocce ball set. It might not last forever, but you can take it out to your backyard and have some fun.
Make Your Set Now to Play Today
Bocce Ball is a very fun and very simple game to play. If you want to get serious about it, you can take on some serious DIY projects to get there. You can get to work leveling a space in your backyard, building a frame, and filling it with oyster shell flour for a bocce court. And, you can endeavor into plastic forming to make a legitimate bocce ball set.
If you’re not looking for intensive DIY projects, you can make a bocce ball set with materials you have lying around your house. You can play the game in your living room or your backyard. Basically, you just need to come up with a way to get 4-8 similarly shaped balls and a smaller ball. Then, learn the rules and play the game.