Bowling Ball Bowl




About: My name is Troy. I'm a Mechatronics graduate studying Aerospace Engineering. I like to make things and spend time outdoors (especially SCUBA diving). I am a Community Manager for Instructables.

Almost two years ago I made a series of rings out of bowling balls. Since then, I've had bowling balls taking up space in my garage. This Bowling Ball Bowl was a lot more work than anticipated. From trying to figure out how to cut it in half to the extremely dirty task of hollowing it out, this was one of my more interesting and challenging projects yet. If you love bowling or a new challenge with bowl making, the Bowling Ball Bowl is your next project!

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Step 1: Tools and Materials



  • Bowling Ball
  • Plywood
  • Nuts and Bolts

Step 2: Cut Bowling Ball in Half

I tried various methods for cutting the bowling ball in half. I started thinking about how to use the bandsaw, but shortly came to the realization that mine doesn't have enough clearance. If your bandsaw has a large capacity, make a dedicated sled for it that will hold both halves of the bowling ball securely as you cut through it. I then tried a traditional hand saw but the pushing motion wasn't working. Ultimately the best saw I found was a sharp japanese pull saw. It took about 45 minutes to get through, but it was the best option for me.

Once I was close to the middle, I dropped the bowling ball on the cement floor of the garage and it broke in half.

Step 3: Bowling Ball Holder - Top

I needed a way to hold the bowling ball securely while hollowing out the middle. I used scrap circles of plywood left over from my disc sander project, but any shape of plywood will work for this. Cut out a circle just larger than the inner diameter of the bowling ball shell.

Step 4: Bowling Ball Holder - Bottom

Using a circle cutter (Jigsaw would work too) cut a smaller hole in the bottom of the holder to keep the bowling ball secure.

Step 5: Bowling Ball Holder - Assembly

Drill four holes in the holder and assemble using carriage bolts with the bowling ball in place.

Step 6: Hollow Out Bowling Ball

Clamp the bowling ball holder to your work bench. Use a carbide cup wheel in an angle grinder to hollow out the bowling ball.

This is an extremely dirty and dusty process! You must use a respirator and goggles. I'm not sure what exactly the inside of bowling balls are made of, but breathing in that much dust and getting it in your eyes is less than desireable. As well, your shop/garage will be covered in white dust for the next month. I am still cleaning up this dust three weeks after this step.

Step 7: Smooth Inside of Bowling Ball

Using a random orbital sander with 80 grit paper, sand the inside of the bowling ball. I found this process easier once removed from the bowling ball holder. Sand until all the tool marks from the cup wheel are removed.

Step 8: Flatten Lip of Bowl

Using a large piece of sandpaper or disc sander, flatten the lip of the bowl.

Step 9: Round Lip of Bowl

Using a 1/8 inch radius router bit, round over the outside edge of the bowl.

Step 10: Finish Outside and Inside of Bowl

It was just a coincident that I purchased a new lathe when I needed it! This made this step much easier. If you already have a lathe, some of the previous steps may be easier for you than they were for me. Hot glue the bowl onto a waste block centered as much as possible. I sanded all logos off the outside of the bowl. You can leave these logos if you like.

The grits of sandpaper I used in my sander were:

  • 80
  • 120
  • 240
  • 360
  • 400
  • 600

I then used all the grits of Micro-Mesh lubricated by water to polish the bowl.

Step 11: Flatten the Bottom

Using a shop built Doughnut Chuck, flatten and finish the bottom using the same process as the rest of the bowl. Be sure to carve the bottom slightly concave to give a rim around the bottom for the bowl to sit flat on. I added the foam to the doughnut chuck instructable because using it without the foam cause a small indentation in this bowl.

Step 12: Enjoy Your Bowl

After the bowl is finished on the bottom, remove it from the chuck and admire your handiwork! This was a great project that was mostly fun. If you make your own bowling ball bowl, please share your pictures!



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    17 Discussions


    Answer 3 months ago

    I just rolled it along making a light cut from the top of the ball.


    2 years ago

    It's easier to hollow out if you can find one with a liquid center.

    2 replies

    Reply 1 year ago

    i didnt know there is sucha thing as liquid filling bowling ball


    Reply 2 years ago

    Haha I highly doubt it. I actually left it in my car on a warm day (non intentional) and it warped slightly. I got it to form back round by repeating the process but setting it upsidedown on a flat board.


    2 years ago

    Beautiful! So beautiful many folks won't realize the best bart, that it came from a bowling ball. If you left the logo visible or maybe made a bowl from the other side with the finger holes, it allows viewers to discover it's origins on their own. When I used to make bowls from tickets and movie film, the most rewarding part was seeing the lightbulb come on in peoples minds when they realized what they were made from.

    You could also use the side with the finger holes or a logo, cut a little smaller, as a chalice like foot. (see image) You could display the bowl with that side turned to the back and leave it for people to "discover" on their own. By cutting the foot a little smaller then the bowl side, you'd also have some extra material to play around with jewelry, drawer pulls, etc.

    Mark 42

    2 years ago

    I'm thinking a small (electric) chainsaw would cut a bowling ball. Probably ruin the chain, but I have plenty of old ones for that type of stuff.


    2 years ago

    I like how you have your router undermounted. Would love to see how you did that!

    tomatoskinsPenolopy Bulnick

    Reply 2 years ago

    Thanks! I thought it was a great idea and turned out better than I expected!


    2 years ago

    so-o-o-o-o-o-o pretty!! :^D


    2 years ago

    Looks great! I love the color of it.


    2 years ago

    I never thought about what was on the inside of a bowling ball. This looks beautiful.