Opening doors repeatedly can lead to hand and wrist strain. Traditional metal or ceramic door knobs require firm grasping and twisting motions that can aggravate conditions like arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome. Replacing door knobs with softer, more ergonomic versions can make opening doors less painful. I found that old tennis balls can be repurposed into comfortable, inexpensive DIY door knobs. In this article, I will walk through the full process of transforming old tennis balls into ergonomic door knobs.
To begin, you will need to gather a few materials:
Old tennis balls – These will form the base of the knobs. Look for balls that are no longer suitable for play but still have some bounce left.
Screwdriver – A basic screwdriver with both Phillips and flat heads will be needed for removing old knobs and installing new ones.
Scissors – Any type of scissors that can cut through tennis ball felt. Craft scissors tend to work best.
Hot glue gun – Used for sealing the tennis ball and attaching it to the knob base. A low-temp glue gun is preferable.
Knob hardware – Most home improvement stores sell replacement interior knobs that just require screwing into place.
Once you have gathered these basic supplies, you can begin the transformation process.
Remove Original Knob
The first step is removing the existing door knob using the screwdriver. Visually inspect how the knob is installed. In most cases, there is just a single screw on the interior side attaching the knob.
- Locate screw on existing knob. This is typically on the interior side.
- Use screwdriver to remove screw. Place screw in safe area.
- Pull knob away from door to remove.
- If any additional hardware remains, unscrew or otherwise detach it.
- Clean surface in preparation for new knob.
Removing original knobs is a quick process. Have replacement knob hardware on hand before getting started.
Modify Tennis Ball
With the old knob removed, now the tennis ball can be prepared. The goal is to cut an X shape in the ball that can open to fit over the knob hardware base.
- Place tennis ball on stable surface like a table.
- Using scissors, carefully cut an X shaped slit across the top of the tennis ball. Make the slit deep enough to reach about halfway down the ball.
- Open the flaps created by the X cut. The slit should open wide enough to fit over knob hardware base.
- If slit does not open wide enough, use scissors to cut deeper into the tennis ball. Be careful not to puncture the ball completely.
- Test that knob base fits into the opening. Trim any excess felt with scissors if needed.
I recommend starting the slit cut on the side with an existing seam, as the felt is thinner there. Take it slowly to avoid overcutting the tennis ball.
Attach Tennis Ball and Install
With the tennis ball prepped, it can now be bonded onto the knob hardware and installed onto the door.
Gluing the Ball:
- Place a dowel, stick, or knob base into the X slit to hold it open.
- Apply a ring of hot glue around the interior of the tennis ball at the midway point.
- Place knob hardware into the slit, pressing down firmly. Allow glue to dry completely.
- Turn assembly over so knob base is facing out.
- Position knob against door hole. Insert screw in hole and tighten with screwdriver until firmly attached.
- Repeat glue and installation process for second knob on double doors.
Once the glue dries, the tennis ball should be firmly bonded to the knob base, creating a unified ergonomic knob. Give it a try opening the door to test the new soft grip feel. Reattach any additional hardware like a latch plate as needed.
Benefits of DIY Ergonomic Knobs
Transforming old tennis balls into door knobs provides a number of helpful benefits:
Improved grip – The fuzzy tennis ball felt is much easier on arthritic hands than hard ceramic or metal.
Reduced wrist strain – The soft give of the tennis ball reduces the twisting force needed to open doors.
Low cost – Recycling old tennis balls is an affordable alternative to buying ergonomic knobs.
Easy installation – The project can be completed in less than an hour with basic tools.
Customizable – Tennis balls come in a variety of colors to match any decor.
Installing DIY tennis ball door knobs is a simple weekend project that can make doors of any home more accessible and comfortable to open. The softness and grip of the recycled tennis balls allow doors to operate smoothly with minimal pain or strain. Give this easy ergonomic upgrade a try for yourself.