Getting a real sisal fiber dartboard is one of the best feelings in the world.
And don’t even get me started on the satisfaction of hearing these sweet and deep thudding sounds when the steel tip darts start hammering the board.
But — and this is a big but — there is something that may or may not worry a lot of the darts players — especially the new ones.
You receive your first sisal fiber dartboard. And you are excited, and quite as expected, you hurry up and open the box.
But, your excitement is quick to fade away after you notice these weird cracks all over the board.
As if a spider went a little too crazy. So you start to wonder, is that good or bad? Did you just receive a lemon?
Why do dartboards have cracks? Dartboards have little cracks that can be found across the whole surface of the board. These cracks are found on high-quality sisal fiber dartboards. It is completely normal for these dartboards to have cracks because they appear naturally as a result of the manufacturing methods used.
I remember as I had these very same questions before.
And I was not sure what I should do. I was almost thinking about just returning the dartboard and asking for a replacement or a refund.
But now I know better.
If you want to find out more about why dartboards have cracks, read on, as I explain the matter in more detail below.
Is it normal for dartboards to have cracks?
It is completely normal for sisal fiber dartboards to have cracks.
A lot of people that buy a sisal bristle dartboard for the first time do get a little worried after seeing the cracks. Usually, when we buy something new, we do not want it to look in pristine condition. But these cracks just raise some concerns.
However, these cracks do not represent any damage. In fact, often, this is an aspect found on quality dartboards, which cannot be seen on cheaper lower quality ones.
So you can even consider this to be one of the things you should look for when buying a dartboard.
The cracks on the dartboards are also called fissures or marbling, and they are a direct result of how quality sisal dartboards are made.
So let us take a brief look at how boards are made. After that, you will have a lot better and more in-depth understanding of why dartboards have cracks
How are sisal dartboards made?
Sisal is made from hemp. Not all sisal is created equal and there can be sisals of varying degree.
One of the most widely used type of sisal is the African sisal, which is known for its durability, resilience, and visibility.
After the sisal fibers are collected and cleaned they are braided into long skeins.
Then the sisal is wrapped very tightly and cut into small buns.
These buns are then taken and assembled together into a ring and are squeeze and compressed together. After that they are glued to the base of the board.
When the glue dries you have a very rough looking dartboard. So it undergoes some sanding to smooth out the surface of the board.
The edges where the different tightly packed sisal buns meet are the very same places where the cracks are forming on the finished dartboard.
These cracks are a natural aftereffect of how dartboards are manufactured.
What are some examples of dartboard cracks?
I thought that adding a few real-life examples of what dartboard cracks look like was necessary in order to know what to expect.
So below I have uploaded a few images of what dartboard cracks normally look like:
How many cracks should a dartboard have?
With all that being said, you may still be worried about how many cracks are too many, and is there a situation where you really need to start worrying.
I do enjoy me some math.
So I wondered if there a way to calculate the number of cracks on a dartboard.
I am no math professor, so there might be some flaws in my logic, but hear me out. The answer may surprise you.
Dart board cracks can be a lot and found all across the whole surface of the board. The thing is that the individual sisal buns that the board is comprised of are somewhat small, usually about 3 inches in diameter.
So I decided to calculate the area of the standard 18-inch board. The area of an 18-inch dartboard is 1017 in2.
Now we need to find out how many of the small sisal buns can be squeezed inside. I used the 3-inch diameter as an average. The area of a three-inch circle is about 28 in2.
So all I had to do now is calculate how many of the smaller circles are needed to fill up the whole board.
And what I have ended up is that on average, about 36 different sisal buns are needed to make a fully-fledged 18-inch dartboard. That means a lot of cracks!
Of course, that number is not set in stone. It can be more or less depending on the sisal buns diameter, and how dense the board is.
Nonetheless, it can give you a good perspective as to what you can expect to see when you take a look at the board.
Do all dartboards have cracks?
Of course, not all dartboards are going to have cracks on them.
Naturally, plastic overall all electronic dartboards will not have cracks.
Cracks can be seen only on sisal fiber dartboards. Of course, to the untrained eye, this can seem like a real crack. Or as if something is missing, but that is not the case.
The cracks are a sign of a quality dartboard and are completely natural. On cheaper paper wound dartboards, there will be no cracks.
With time the technology has been improving, however, and today some sisal fiber dartboards might be manufactured in a way as to prevent the cracks from showing up. A good example can be the Dual-core dartboard from Winmau.
Overall, dartboards without cracks on them are not significantly better than the boards with cracks. Both types play well.
Do the cracks on the dartboard affect the play?
Many darts players are worried that the cracks across the board may affect their game.
However, the cracks on the dartboard do not affect the play in any way, nor does it result in a higher amount of bounce-outs.
To a certain amount, the cracks are even necessary.
As some players have noted that the lack of any cracks on high-density dartboards may result in frequent bounce-outs in the beginning, because the dart will not be able to penetrate the sisal easily. And the cracks give the sisal fibers a little leeway to move.
Many players even like the cracks or marbling on the dartboards. It can be considered as a unique feature (just like our fingerprints) that adds character to the dartboard.
Usually, sisal boards are the go-to type of boards as they are the most classic ones. These are the ones that are used by the pros on TV. So these boards are definitely good and arguably one of the best kinds of dartboards for both beginners and advanced players alike.
Best of all, they are not that expensive to get.
So the cracks are not something that you have to worry about even if you are a new darts player.
Sisal dartboards are well-known for their self-healing properties, which extends their life. The cracks are not going to affect the self-healing of the board in any negative way.
For more information check my article about the best self-healing dartboards, where I get more in-depth.
Just make sure to rotate your dartboard frequently in order to avoid excessive wear in certain areas of the board.
And last but not least, do not forget to keep your steel tip darts sharpened so that they do not damage the sisal fibers too much.