[ The following was written by Bob Lanctot for The Ottawa Pub Dart League Newsletter. ]
Ever wonder how they get those thousands of tiny bristles stuffed into a dartboard? Before the invention of the bristle dartboard, the boards were made of wound paper or wood. The wooden boards required daily soaking to prevent splitting and smelled bad. The original manufacturer of bristle dartboards used this characteristic of wooden boards to name his company - Nodor ("no-odour").
To make today's tournament dartboards, manufacturers start by cutting out the backboards which are made from high quality particle board 5/8ths of an inch thick. Next, the bands of steel which go around the board and hold it together are prepared. Nodor, for example, coat their bands with a black leather-like material to cut down on the reflectiveness of the bare metal.
The main ingredient in dartboards of today is the sisal or hemp which the English dartboard makers import from Africa. The sisal fibres are cleaned and braided into long skeins which are formed into a paper-covered tube approximately 3 inches in diameter. The tube is then cut into 1 inch thick wafers. A total of 51 or 52 wafers are used in the construction of 1 dartboard. The steel bands and a lot of pressure are employed to squeeze the sisal wafers into a perfect circle. Then, glue is applied to the particle board and the whole affair is put together. Holding pins are mechanically inserted through pre-punched holes in the band.
At this point the board is fully formed but it's surface is pretty rough. High speed sanders are used to smooth it out and prepare it for the next stage, the silk screening of the red, green and black Sections of the board. The "white" or blond sections are the natural colour of the sisal and are not touched. After the dye or ink has dried, the wires are installed with those defining the doubles and triples rings first. The clips or hooks holding the number ring are hammered into the board and, finally, the number ring is installed.