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Make: Projects

“Glengarry” Brass Balls

This totemic desk toy assembles in 2 minutes.

“Glengarry” Brass Balls

My friend Ed and I love quoting from the movie Glengarry Glen Ross, especially the plot-inciting speech by Alec Baldwin’s character, in which he informs a veteran sales team that they will now compete against each other to keep their jobs (“Third prize: you’re fired.”)

Toward the end of his harangue, he reverently reaches into his attaché case and produces two brass balls on a cord, saying, “It takes brass balls to sell real estate.”

It’s a memorable image, and I’ve always wondered why SkyMall doesn’t sell high-quality brass balls as a desktop “executive toy” or motivational prize. Maybe they feel it would be in poor taste or politically incorrect, or maybe they’re afraid of lawsuits over something that could so easily crush a skull (brass balls are heavy). But to my mind, these considerations just make the object more appealing.

I decided to replicate the balls, and once I figured out how to securely connect the cord, it was simple. You can put these together in 2 minutes with no tools other than scissors to cut the cord and a flame to singe the ends.

Build ‘Em

To make them, cut about 2′ of cord, thread a setscrew on each end, tie a knot, and screw it into the ball. You can use epoxy or threadlocker to make the connection permanent. The balls I ordered already had brass setscrews that reduced their original bores to ¼-20, and the knot probably wouldn’t slip out of those, but adding the smaller setscrews makes the connection neater and more secure. I used a white cord for authenticity, but I think a black one would add a nice formal touch for evening occasions.

I gave the brass balls to Ed and he got a kick out of them. He works in management at a large, sales-driven company, so I hope he puts them on his desk.

Paul Spinrad

Paul Spinrad

Paul Spinrad is a broad-spectrum enthusiast, writer, maker, and dad who lives in San Francisco. He hatches schemes at http://investian.com.


  • Christopher Kidder

    So where are the directions? I just see the parts listed on the side. The links to the items just shoots you to the top of the same page. My guess is this is a joke then?

    • Matt Leiv

      LOL!!! I was thinking the same thing, of course I find YOU on here

      • Christopher Kidder

        LOL Matt…. GREAT minds think alike. I will own a set of these soon enough haha