Staining with Spaceballs in Door Panel Grooves

Causes and prevention for staining related to door panel spaceballs, and a discussion of alternative products. February 16, 2014

I glued up four frame and panel drawer fronts four days ago and came in today to find stains on the panels adjacent to the spaceballs on three of the panels. I was able to scrape and sand away the stain, but decided to re-make the panels to ensure no finishing problems. The stains looked like oil stains, and bled into only the end grain of the white oak veneered poplar veneer core panels about 1" into the panel faces. When I cut the frames apart I found that all the spaceballs had stained the bottom of the panel grooves to a degree, some more than others. I am doing a test with more spaceballs compressed between plywood from two different bags, half as they came out of the bags and half rinsed with acetone.

Has anyone ever experienced this? I've been using spaceballs for years without a problem. I suspect the ones I used were contaminated somehow, but I am perplexed.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor W:
I have also had this issue in the past. Check that you are not compressing the spaceballs more than normal. Our issue was 110 plus degree temps. Closer control over all factors seems to have eliminated the problem. Also we have never had an item comeback because of this and have been using spaceballs for 12 years.

From the original questioner:
I see from past threads that it can be a problem when the balls are over-compressed, and that a 5/32" space is recommended. I had less than that, and being in a hurry did not seal the panels prior to assembly as we usually do. In the future I will be sure to pre-seal and leave a greater space.

From contributor D:
You should use the powder that CSH sells and powder the spaceballs before using them.

From contributor R:
I had the same trouble and switched to barrell brand spacers by RC Rubber Company. No more problems and Iíve been using them for about five years now.

From contributor N:
Hafele sells panel buddies , #037.90.000, and I think you will find no issues with these spacers.

From contributor R:
I switched to Hafele panel buddies about two years ago. They were a little awkward after using spaceballs for several years. They're not round, so there is a small amount of orienting to be done. They do work well and inexpensive compared to spaceballs.

From contributor D:
The main reason I use them is because of the speed, especially with the insertion gun. Thereís no way you can go as fast with the buddies or barrels.

From contributor M:
I've used spaceballs for years with no staining problems in several different species. I always look for it after glue-up's but have never noticed anything. As far as the barrels go, I've noticed that your panel groove has to be very consistent or they continually fall out. Iíve never had that problem with spaceballs.