International Association of Penturners - View Single Post - Good wood from bowling pins?
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Old 01-12-2018, 01:51 PM   #5 (permalink)
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Mableton, GA (Near Atlanta)
Posts: 1,032
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I got some pins from a local bowling alley about a year ago for $1 each. Cut a couple of them up and even made a pen from one. Good wood.
I took some pics of cutting the pin on the bandsaw but can't seem to find them right now.
This is a writeup about using bowling pin wood that I came across that I think came from this forum.


MOST NOVICE WOODTURNERS (Myself included) are always looking for beautiful, free wood. Itís best if itís free because we waste so much of it in the learning process. And it should be beautiful just in case we get lucky and finish a bowl. But beautiful, free wood can be difficult to find.
Used bowling pins are a wonderful source of free, dried, and beautifully laminated maple. I made a few phone calls to our local bowling alleys and ended up with a truck-full of used bowling pins. Local lanes used to have a difficult time finding places to donate old bowling pins, but not anymore. Our woodturning club has found a real treasure trove in these used pins.
One advantage of bowling-pin wood is that there is no problem with shrinkage, distortion, or checking after turning. It is a beautiful light-colored wood that is very pleasing to the eye. The straight-line laminations create beautiful curved lines as you cut curves into the wood. And yes, the best part is that you can make a mistake, ruin the project, and not see dollar signs floating away.
Just pick up another bowling pin and start over. (You might want to pause to consider what went wrong, so that you can improve your technique.)
Working with bowling pins requires a few simple preliminaries, different from those for regular wood. Bowling pins are coated with a 3/32-inch-thick layer of plastic that should be removed before shaping.
To mount the bowling pin, I prefer a cup drive (made from a bowling pin). The small top of the bowling pin fits into this depression and because only the outside rim of wood comes into contact with the bowling-pin top, this end of the blank is auto magically centered.

Just took a picture of one I had on my desk.
Attached Thumbnails

Last edited by larryc; 01-12-2018 at 02:05 PM.
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