Introduction: Bowling Ball Rings

Picture of Bowling Ball Rings

Whether you're good at it or bad at it, most everyone enjoys bowling. It's a time to spend with friends and family, to eat junk food, to wear someone else's shoes, and most importantly to bowl! There is something magical about throwing a brightly colored, polyurethane ball at a group of pins hoping to knock them all down.

If you are like me and enjoy bowling, or just love unique brightly colored jewelry; grab yourself an old bowling ball, head out to the shop, and make yourself a Bowling Ball Ring!

Step 1: Parts and Tools

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  • Various Bowling Balls (the shinier and more interesting the better!)


Step 2: Drill Ring Blank

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I found it easiest to work when the bowling ball wasn't rolling around. Get a roll of tape to set it on. Drill a pilot hole smaller than the inner drill bit of your hole saw. Using a hole saw cut the blank. Vacuum up the dust. Not sure what bowling balls are made of (polyurethane and stuff), but it can't be good for you to breathe. Side note, all bowling balls smell different when working with them. The teal and the brown/black bowling balls smelled really good, and the black/blue one smelled terrible!

Step 3: Break Out the Blank

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Grab a sturdy screwdriver and pop the blank out.

Step 4: Cut Blank Size

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Using a bolt and some washers, attach the blank to your drill. Use a healthy amount of tape on the threads to protect them and the chuck. With the blank in place, turn it and cut the blank to the desired size. It can be thick or thin, you decide. Cut almost all the way through. Don't want to wreck your saw on the bolt.

Step 5: Finish Cutting Blank

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Place the blank in a vise and finish cutting through the blank.

Step 6: Drill Out Center

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Using a drill press, drill out most of the ring to the desired size. Final sizing will be done in the next step.

Step 7: Sizing Ring

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Using a sanding attachment for your rotary tool, sand away more of the ring till it's the desired size. 8 1/2 for this ring.

Step 8: Set-up Drill Press

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This step can just as easily be done on a lathe.

My jewelers mandrel had some 1/4-20 threads on one end and just an open hole in the center of the other. I saw that and thought that it would make a great way to hold a ring for sanding.

Screw in a short 1/4-20 bolt into one end. In the chuck of the drill press, place a 7/16" nut driver to hold the 1/4-20 bolt. To act as the "tailstock" secure a small bolt into some material that can be attached to the table of your drill press. My drill press wasn't tall enough to hold everything conventionally so I had to flip over my table.

Remember to place some lubricant on the end of the bolt attached to the table.

Step 9: Sand and Finish the Ring

Picture of Sand and Finish the Ring

There's not much to it after you get everything set up. Wrap the mandrel with some tape to protect the measurement marks on it. Using increasing grit sand paper (100, 250, 320, 500, 1000) shape your ring and shine it up. I used various buffing compounds and a rag to really make them shine.

Step 10: Final Thoughts

Picture of Final Thoughts

I tried to see what I could do with the insides of the bowling ball. The Brown one had a nice white center. Doing the same process yielded close to the same results. The white turned out to be quite porous and didn't shine up too well. If you find a ball with different colors on the inside let me know.

Step 11: Enjoy the New Ring!

Picture of Enjoy the New Ring!

***I'm looking for additional ideas with what to do with the remaining parts of the bowling balls. Best idea will get a free year of Pro Membership!***

This instructable was inspired by one of my friends Zack. You can see his post on imgur.


technologydecoding42 (author)2016-05-23

You could drill holes the same size (or different sizes) and use it for a bird feeder. Maybe add some pegs for the birds to grab onto and hang it somewhere with strudy wire.

technologydecoding42 (author)2016-05-23

You could use the rest as a counter weight to something or turn it into a bowl for fruit or make a wheel out of it or use it for the seat on a rope swing or use some more bowling balls and make cool looking hub caps. Also you could make dart handles or you could crush the rest into powder and use it for cool looking sand?

Yuvisrima (author)2016-01-06

Nice Ideas... Superb...

ediestel (author)2015-12-28

So rad and unique!

Bobmonkey07 (author)2015-11-20

For your ideas for other uses, it seems like you could make some interesting knife/tool handles. actually, depending on the material they're actually made of, some sort of nice serving knife/spade for cheese/cakes/pies.
also, maybe work on one of the really difficult looking carvings like chains or the ball in a box.

BigStoddy (author)Bobmonkey072015-11-25

BobMonkey07 FOR THE WIN!!! Great idea.

Bobmonkey07 (author)BigStoddy2015-11-25


out of curiosity, which one in particular?

IamSparticus (author)Bobmonkey072015-11-30

Oh, the knife/tool handle actually. (I may have stopped reading at that point. :-)

eclark9 (author)2015-11-24

Flagpole Topper

wobbler (author)eclark92015-11-24

Just don't stand under it in a high wind or it could be your last strike!

chuck.heaton.10 (author)2015-11-24

cut it in half and make a slot big enough to hold a road bike (mtb might be too big) wheel and use it as a free standing bike rack. You could make two of these from 1 ball obviously, or cut one of the halves in half again and use it as book ends.

LiveBreatheMusic (author)2015-11-24

Half of one might make a sweet enclosure for a speaker! You could make a stereo pair.

dwinget (author)2015-11-24

It would be really cool if you could use some of the different colors from the bowling balls to make a nice inlay pattern in wood.

ladybgood (author)2015-11-24

making chess pieces came to mind.

blange (author)2015-11-24

It would be cool to see something like a Bowling Bowl :) I'd love to have one of those sitting on my table with fruits and vegetables inside.

shaunfather (author)2015-11-24

Very cool, why not make one of those desk pendulums if you have a few laying around?

marhou (author)2015-11-24

Glue small bits of mirror, tile or glass pieces and set it in the garden for yard art

danzo321 (author)2015-11-24

I think they are polyester (fiberglass) not urethane but who knows. But why not drill straight down with 2 holecutters to get ring shape in the first place? Or second tool could be that multi-step tool.

elvisisdead (author)2015-11-24

You could make some really cool pen blanks using the same process, just with a bit of urethane glue between the plugs. Really, as a handle blank for almost anything. It would take a good number of bowling balls and some time, but you could make a really interesting lamp base with stacked plugs and a threaded rod in the center. Or - even a stacked base by trimming 6 "cups" off of one ball. Think )=)=)=)=)=).

ljohnson72 (author)2015-11-24

house decor would look good if it's for for retro but personally I would continue to make small parts from it. guitar picks, gauged earrings, dominoe set... if you are selling these things the colors and uniqueness is endless and the fact that each piece would be one of a kind adds a higher value

PrankNetwork (author)2015-11-24

This is brilliant, my local thrift store has dozens of bowling balls on the cheap, I'm going to try this!

volcano96721 (author)2015-11-23

Google "House of Balls Minneapolis" for some interesting ideas.

Watch me make (author)2015-11-22

Cut the ball in two then the bottoms off and you have bookends

NelsonM7 (author)2015-11-22

Depending if you can core out the bowling balls interior after cutting as many rings as possible out of it then you would be able to use it as a new age retro lamp shade. It could be very interesting, or cut the ball in half, then you can use the sides as two retro bowls

mikeasaurus (author)2015-11-22

Fun project, and I love the band of white in the brown ring. I wonder if my local bowling alley will notice if I shove a ball down my pants to sneak off with it.

znelson710 (author)mikeasaurus2015-11-22

Actually if you ask them they most likely will give you one. They replace them as they get scratched up. Just ask around and I'm sure you'll find an alley throwing one out.

hrdrummond (author)2015-11-22

small pieces can be wire wrapped into jewelry for any bowler. I've seen pendants but bracelets and earrings certainly would be lovely as a set. Shape the pieces in ovals like cabochons or freeform for a more organic look.

tenbanshee (author)2015-11-22

Hang them from a tree and shoot at them while they are moving. or roll them down a hill and shoot at them. We rigged it so that you pull a rope that is holding the ball at the top of the hill and it would then start rolling down, that way everyone was able to shoot. Remembering safety

Blondy65 (author)2015-11-22

I have seen garden borders made out of bowling ball. The idea I like the most is to use it for a pendulum with some sort of point added to the bottom. Then let it swing over a sand area for a mobile sculpture. That's my goal one of these days.

OldGuy52 (author)2015-11-20

This is a wonderful and highly creative project! I believe a bracelet could be made by slicing off two matching slabs with the diameter a couple of inches wider than the finished bracelet. Glue them up to create a "flying saucer" like blank. put them in a vise/clamp and use hole saws to cut the inner and outer diameters. Shape and polish it up on a belt or disk dander and a rotary tool for the inside.
Again, a very well done project. I'm now on the lookout for some interesting balls!

OldGuy52 (author)OldGuy522015-11-21

Another use is to use slabs, including the fingerholes, as grips for a climbing wall. I built one of these years ago (only 8 ft high) for a small children play group. Be sure to drill and bolt them properly to your backing substrate. These are much cheaper then the commercial versions, but I'm not sure I would use them on an adult climbing wall 4 stories tall. But they are quite adequate for bouldering practice.

cervezameho (author)2015-11-21

Use some old Pool ball's ??

Watch me make (author)2015-11-21

Take the left overs and cut to size then sand and polish and have your own personalized paper weight

SherriF4 (author)2015-11-21

An additional idea with what to do with remaining parts of bowling balls...

Well being that there are finger holes in the bowling ball and you are drilling more holes, if you're thinking about a way to utilize the space drilled out, ..I came up with a plant holder. First I was thinking of making a bunch of holes and planting flowers all around a top area. Then for any downward holes, I'd plant hardy vine-like plants. Ones that seems to grow no matter what and the vine would seem to wander and encircle the ball. Or if you prefer, cross out the flowers and just plant the vines and make a cool VINE BALL! Yes you'd have to wet and pack the dirt in. use some miracle grow. And water or feed your plant as recommended. If you have a problem with dirt coming out bottom side, roll up a small ball of hay(like hay you would use to cover freshly planted grass seed), enough to plug the top of the hole to hold the dirt in while still allowing air sunlight and water can even wrap the piece of hay around a bolt or ur finger so it leaves a hole in the middle allowing you to check on ur seedling or allowing the seedling to grow and pass through:) U can do that till your vines grow enough that their roots hold them in. Or if you prefer, grow one side of the vine ball at a time or only drill holes in one side. You can buy a wire planting pot holder. I'm sure that would hold the ball while leaving all the holes open so ur vines or flowers can grow. Or you can find a sturdy metal rod from a rake or even a thick wooden stick with threading on the end from a big push broom...And you can drill another hole in the ball to match the size so that you can gorilla glue a rod stick pole base into the bottom of the ball so you can stake it into the ground. Another idea is to use the soil pads that you can cut to dude and put them into the holes in place of packing loose soil.You can even buy those soil pads with the flowering seeds in them already. How cool is that?!?!

afballs (author)2015-11-20

You could make a bowl out of one half of it. It would depend on how attractive the inside of the shell is once you've hollowed it out. And for a Halloween twist, add mechanized fingers that wiggle around when people reach for whatever you place in the bowl. You could place those fingers through the original finger holes. You'll also need to flatten the bottom of the bowl or add little feet to keep it from rolling. I'm not sure if applying heat would allow you to deform the bottom or if it would be a mess. Either way, great ring idea.

nsalling (author)afballs2015-11-21

If you do have a wood lathe, that does not sound like a bad idea.

Watch me make (author)2015-11-20

Sorry on my comment before it cut off some way but if you drill a hole in the bowling ball then insert a eye bolt that fits and tie rope to the eye bolt you have an anchor I'm thinking about painting mine orange for my raft in my ible

mario.negretemunoz (author)2015-11-20

You can use the balls as ball-weights or dumbbells.

Jethrokill (author)2015-11-20

Per your comment about the materials. It seems that modern balls made out of polyurethane came out in the 80's. Then in the 90s they started adding other chemicals to the poly to make it porous to create more friction grip (surprising, right?). Eventually they started adding other particulate matter to increase grip.

So, short answer, they're made of polyurethane, so don't breath the dust or eat them. Other than that they should be durable as heck.

mlawing (author)2015-11-20

I'd always thought that used bowling balls were an interesting resource -- cheap, available, and generally unwanted after they've been used hard. Excellent instructable!

Cowgirlsnevercry2001 (author)2015-11-20

Carve a sculpture and make it look like faux marble

Watch me make (author)2015-11-20

You cod make an anchor like I did

About This Instructable




Bio: My name is Troy. I'm a Mechatronics graduate studying Mechanical Engineering. I love making things and doing anything outdoors (especially SCUBA diving). I am ... More »
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