Bowling Pins - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 25 Old 01-23-2011, 08:23 PM Thread Starter
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Bowling Pins

Greetings,

Since the purchase of my Grizzly lathe, I have been on the lookout for sources of wood to practice on.

I was at our local bowling alley for lunch today and as I am sitting there watching the bowlers, it hit me... Used bowling pins - which in my days as a firearms instructor I put to good use as long range targets.

Anyway, the manager fixed me up with a box of used pins and said go forth and create.

I understand they are made out of maple and have a tough plastic coating - which appears to be glued on.

Does anyone have any experience with using these for small projects, etc? What was the easiest way to strip off the plastic?

If this works out, I will have a virtual endless supply of hard maple for small projects.

Thanks for reading,

Mike
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post #2 of 25 Old 01-23-2011, 08:30 PM
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I know the plastic is very stuck on there. I have never tried to remove it but I bet my first attempt would be scoring it maybe twice and hitting it with a heat gun. Hair drier if that's what you have laying around.

Pretty dang good idea I think. Solid material and already have the corners knocked off. Love to see what you create.

I haven't turned anything in 20 years but I wonder if there is a heavy duty turning tool that you could just hog the plastic off with? Something easy to sharpen? It seems like we used a gouge for the initial hard core material removal.

Good luck.....Post pics.

Scott
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post #3 of 25 Old 01-23-2011, 08:34 PM
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It might be interesting and since you have them I'd turn them but in reality it's pretty easy to come up with wood. It's everywhere and if you learn to turn green wood it's free as well.
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post #4 of 25 Old 01-23-2011, 08:51 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by john lucas View Post
It might be interesting and since you have them I'd turn them but in reality it's pretty easy to come up with wood. It's everywhere and if you learn to turn green wood it's free as well.
There is plenty of stuff out there for sure. You just have to get creative about finding it. The thing I like about the bowling pins is that the wood is already well seasoned and ready to turn.

I will post updates as I progress down this new path.
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post #5 of 25 Old 01-23-2011, 10:57 PM Thread Starter
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Update: After cutting the top and bottom of the bowling pin off, I decided to chuck it in the lathe and see if I could just turn off the plastic covering.

Things were going pretty well until I reached about the middle of the pin. It seems the plastic de-laminated (probably from the numerous strikes it had been subjected to throughout it's life) and chunks started coming off.

So, thinking it was better to be safe than sorry, I removed the pin and chiseled off the remainder of the cover.

Following that, I chucked the pin in the lathe again and cleaned it up.

Now, I have what appears to be a ....... wooden bowling pin.
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post #6 of 25 Old 01-24-2011, 02:29 AM Thread Starter
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Here is my first item.

One thing I found out quite by accident is that these pins are not solid wood as I assumed. There are voids in there that you need to be aware of - as I found out when a large chip of wood went sailing across the floor.

I may cut a few of them apart to see if this is common occurrence or if it was unique to this particular pin.
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post #7 of 25 Old 01-24-2011, 05:40 AM
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That was very cool. Never tried that one.

Harrison, at your service!
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post #8 of 25 Old 01-24-2011, 11:26 AM Thread Starter
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Not bad for a novice. I am almost to the point where I know just enough to be highly dangerous....
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post #9 of 25 Old 01-25-2011, 08:10 AM
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I found scoring plastic coating with craft knife, hit with propane torch allowed me to pull plastic coating off pretty easy using two pair of plyers.

Definitely want to do that trick out side.

Have not done anything with bowling pins since mid 1980's.
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post #10 of 25 Old 01-25-2011, 01:53 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wildwood View Post
I found scoring plastic coating with craft knife, hit with propane torch allowed me to pull plastic coating off pretty easy using two pair of plyers.
Good idea. Lathing off the coating was kind of messy. It would be better if I could take it off in larger pieces.

I will try that.

Thanks again,

Mike
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post #11 of 25 Old 01-25-2011, 03:11 PM
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I would suggest scoring and putting in the oven at 200 degrees for a bit to see if you can then pull the plastic off... that way you can do more than one at a time and no live flame.

This is the way I've flattened PVC pipe for some other projects.
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post #12 of 25 Old 01-25-2011, 03:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RetiredLE View Post
One thing I found out quite by accident is that these pins are not solid wood as I assumed. There are voids in there that you need to be aware of - as I found out when a large chip of wood went sailing across the floor.
Pins aren't made from solid pieces of wood, as you can see in your picture. You probably hit a weaker part of the pin. Apparently they are only good for about a year before being retired.

This has the best info I found in 5 minutes of google searching:

http://www.answers.com/topic/bowling-pin
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post #13 of 25 Old 01-26-2011, 12:44 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cellophane View Post
Pins aren't made from solid pieces of wood, as you can see in your picture. You probably hit a weaker part of the pin. Apparently they are only good for about a year before being retired.

This has the best info I found in 5 minutes of google searching:

http://www.answers.com/topic/bowling-pin
The wood was solid but it looked like they used a couple of short pieces when it was laminated - leaving a small void toward the center.

I checked out the link you provided and it looks like sections are drilled out of the core during construction to meet the weight parameters. That explains the two voids I encountered.

"The machine drills into the post to adjust its weight then repeats the process until the pin falls within a 4 oz (113.4 g) weight range. The 4 in (10.2 cm) cheeks are glued over the holes, overlapping the sides of the 3 in (8 cm) cheeks and the new assembly is again clamped into a jig to properly align all the pieces."

Last edited by RetiredLE; 01-26-2011 at 12:55 AM.
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post #14 of 25 Old 01-26-2011, 12:58 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frankp View Post
I would suggest scoring and putting in the oven at 200 degrees for a bit to see if you can then pull the plastic off... that way you can do more than one at a time and no live flame.

This is the way I've flattened PVC pipe for some other projects.
The wife would kill me if I used her oven.....
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post #15 of 25 Old 01-26-2011, 01:23 AM
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Just asking. Would it be possible for you to use a slightly rounded skew as a knife in low speed and spiral score the pin and then heat it?

"IF IT'S TOO TOUGH FOR THEM, IT'S JUST RIGHT FOR ME"
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post #16 of 25 Old 01-28-2011, 01:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Firewalker
I know the plastic is very stuck on there. I have never tried to remove it but I bet my first attempt would be scoring it maybe twice and hitting it with a heat gun. Hair drier if that's what you have laying around.

Pretty dang good idea I think. Solid material and already have the corners knocked off. Love to see what you create.

I haven't turned anything in 20 years but I wonder if there is a heavy duty turning tool that you could just hog the plastic off with? Something easy to sharpen? It seems like we used a gouge for the initial hard core material removal.

Good luck.....Post pics.

Scott
Maybe a roughing gouge would work.
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post #17 of 25 Old 02-10-2011, 01:36 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Goldeneyes View Post
Maybe a roughing gouge would work.
I cut the top off of a discarded bowling pin and am removing the plastic covering using a homemade rough nose scraper made from a Wal-Mart wood chisel. (I later determined a more efficient - and way less messy - way to remove the plastic was to score the outer surface down to the wood every inch or so using a parting chisel then make lateral cuts using an air powered cutoff disc. The plastic comes off in chunks with a few well placed taps using a chisel & wood mallet.)
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post #18 of 25 Old 02-10-2011, 01:39 AM Thread Starter
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Modified Wal-Mart wood chisel.
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post #19 of 25 Old 02-10-2011, 01:40 AM Thread Starter
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Plastic covering is off and the underlying wood is ready to shape into .
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post #20 of 25 Old 02-10-2011, 01:41 AM Thread Starter
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Something resembling a candlestick holder.


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