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A DIY-hobby question rather than home improvement. I need to paint a bunch of steel balls (1/4-1/3" dia) but I can't get even coverage. I thought shaking/rolling the balls around in a small container while spraying would help, but the results are very bad: each ball got a bumpy, sticky shell. Is there a method for painting steel balls evenly?

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If I was going to try to paint a bunch of small steel balls with rattle can spray paint there are a number of steps that I would take.

  1. Number One most important is to remember with spray can paint is to work at the correct temperature environment and leave plenty of time for full drying between coats.
  2. Almost as important as the above item is to apply multiple thin coats instead of heavy almost dripping coats. This will become even more important with following considerations.
  3. Acquire some square grid welded mesh wire material. For 3/8" balls and 1/4" balls mesh such as McMaster-Carr 9230T403 may do the trick. Following scale drawing shows the side view of mesh and steel balls:

enter image description here

  1. Place the mesh in a sturdy horizontal position.
  2. Hand place your balls on the mesh grid leaving space between them.
  3. Spray paint the up facing surface of the balls with a light dusting type coat of paint and let fully dry.
  4. Rotate all of the balls on the grid so that the recently painted surface faces down toward the grid and then apply another light coat of paint to the new up facing sides.
  5. As long as you keep the coats of paint very thin a small overlap from layer to layer as you rotate the balls should be invisible.
  6. Repeat steps 5 through 9 till all the balls have the desired paint covering. Rotate each ball before placing it down again. It may take five or six repeats to get them nice evenly coated with paint on each ball.
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  • Thanks, I think Amazon has a similar mesh, but much cheaper amazon.com/gp/product/B087JB6VGF. Any advice how to atomize spray paint as much as possible? I've noticed that the central part of an aerosol spray often tends to have tiny drops (not good), while the outside is more "dusty" (better). I thought of using a dense sieve between the can and the balls, to stop the bigger droplets – MrSparkly Mar 22 at 4:14
  • The sieve will not work. Spurt your spray nozzle in short bursts and keep a good distance back from the surface. I typically spray at 12 to 15 inches. Takes practice and lots of paint goes to the back drop. The other thing is to make sure your paint can is warm and very well shaken. Cool / Cold kills the results. – Michael Karas Mar 22 at 4:40
  • The mesh that you linked at Amazon only has an opening size of 0.9mm (0.035 inch) which is way too small. The idea of the grid is to give a good seat for each ball so that they do not roll around. This is what will give you the control to properly position each ball. I selected that particular McMaster-Carr part number because it has an opening size of 0.108". An even larger opening size approaching 0.150" would be even better. – Michael Karas Mar 22 at 4:51
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    No. Just take it inside and let it come to a nice room temperature over some hours of time. Heating a highly pressurized can with a hair dryer is just asking for trouble – Michael Karas Mar 22 at 15:51

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