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Old 01-12-2018, 12:47 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Good wood from bowling pins?

If I recall, bowling pins are made from hard maple unless they have changed over the years. Anyone used them for reclaiming the wood? If I get some positive replies, I'll check with the local bowling alley.
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Old 01-12-2018, 01:11 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default bowling pins

I am a duckpin bowler and the pins are made from a plastic material. Years ago, even the balls were made from wood.
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Old 01-12-2018, 01:39 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Back around 1970/71 while in high school shop class, we somehow obtained some bowling pins. I turned one for a lamp. As I recall, the maple was glued up of pieces and not all one piece. The lamp was not too bad but the base was made from two different types of wood which did not even go with the maple.....but it was what I found in the shop that was available at the time.

I did learn how not to drill the lamp. The shop teacher used a grinder and file to make teeth on the end of a piece of threaded 3/8 lamp rod about 24 long. We chucked it in the drill press and while I held the bowling pin, the shop teacher started the drill press. I still have a scar on my arm where the lamp rod got me. The speed was too high for such a long hollow rod. It started to go off axis and whip around. I got it before the drill press was shut off and slowed down. Lesson learned.....use a hand drill at a lower speed or now, I now know how to drill on the lathe.
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Old 01-12-2018, 01:42 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Years ago the pins were made of a hardwood, probably maple. Today I believe they are all hard plastic, maybe with a wood core WiKi might tell you.

In any case, what might be interesting if you can find some old wood pins, would be to soak them in a dye, maybe colored cactus juice or something very viscous. The bruised areas of the pin will absorb more colorant than the non/less bruised parts. Might introduce some interesting effects.

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Old 01-12-2018, 01:51 PM   #5 (permalink)
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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. Its best if its 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.
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Last edited by larryc; 01-12-2018 at 02:05 PM.
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Old 01-12-2018, 07:29 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Probably made up from pieces.

Love the production turning.

Last edited by chartle; 01-12-2018 at 07:32 PM.
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Old 01-13-2018, 08:08 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Many thanks. We have two bowling alleys in town- I go by one at least two or three times a week. I'll stop in and see what I can work up with them.
Q: What is the quietest place in the world?
A: A bowling alley- You can hear a pin drop!
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