How-to: Peel a Bowling Pin...




About: I've built houses, decks, custom cabinets, furniture of all types. Ive done furniture repair and restoration, residential and commercial remodels, restaurant seating and tables and hotel furniture. Ive been ...

So a buddy of mine is an avid bowler. He even has a part time job doing maintenance at a local alley... He brought me a dozen pins the other day and I'm not exactly sure what to do with them, but I'm a wood turner and I loves me some free wood!!!

Upon my first close examination of these, I realized they are coated in plastic. Very thick and SHARP plastic...

The first thing I did was try to "turn the coating off with my lathe. no way that is happening... do not attempt this.. The plastic is too soft and flexible.. The tools dig right into it and stall the machine (if your lucky)....
I did however find a way to get it done... Note also: this will potentially scratch and gouge the wood. so be careful...

take time for safety: you are working with sharp tools and sharp plastic along with hammers. wear your proper safety equipment and do not attempt this without  safety glasses at the very least. also keep in mind the sharp point of your chisel. do not point it toward you or anybody else.

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Step 1: Gather Your Tools...

Tools I used are as follows
Skew chisel
screwdriver (not pictured)
safety glasses

Step 2: Start by Cutting the Plastic Coating

Start by inspecting the pin to find a cracked spot. If you have a newer pin without cracks I don't think I would ruin the pin... I would probably re-purpose it another way... A lamp perhaps? But in this case all of my pins are cracked somewhere, and none of them have a decent enough coating to re-purpose as an original bowling pin.

So, the plastic is coming off!

Clamp the pin in your vice I started at the bottom and worked my way to the head of the pin...

Using your skew chisel and hammer drive the chisel through the plastic all the way down the pin... I had to follow with a relief cut to allow the thickness of my chisel to stay on track. but its not important... Be careful not to go into the wood, you will know when you are hitting wood instead of just plastic. The hits from the hammer are much more solid.

Step 3: Pry and Peel the Coating As You Go

As you cut, using the screwdriver or chisel, "pry and peel" the plastic away from the wood. this will make it easier to get all the way to the small end (head) of the pin.

Step 4: Finish the Cut and Peel It Out of the Plastic Shell

Well, ten minutes later what you have is a very naked, splintry, rough looking bowling pin.
after I got the coating off I mounted it to the lathe and rough cut it to remove all the splintery material and to see how good the wood underneath looks. Its laminated Hard Rock Maple. still not sure what I can do with it, but Ill think of something...

Thanks for looking...

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    11 Discussions


    5 years ago

    Use a heat gun work a lot better and it will not jack up the wood.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    For those of you who wanted a bowling pin project...

    I do a one-man-German-band act and one of the songs I perform is "Grab Yer Balls We're Going Bowling." I needed a novelty prop for the act so I bought a beat up bowling pin from the local alley for $2, used a large drill bit to hollow out a piece of the bottom, drilled a few smaller holes at an angle into the larger hole, then inserted the small end of a kazoo into the large hole.

    Voila! A bowling pin kazoo!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Couldnt you use a soldering iron to melt the pvc? then just lightly sand the wood to remove scorch marks?

    with just a little lathe work you could make some fantastic indian clubs for exercise!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Hey, check this one out. You already have the general shape, you would just need to hollow out the insides to make wooden teardrop/pendant lights.

    I wouldn't cut the holes on the sides, instead I would drill holes in the bowling pin that would make pinhole patterns of light on the wall. i.e the Big and Little Dipper et al. Very 1960's kitsch.

    I've been looking for a defunct Bowling Alley to see if I could liberate some of the old wood lanes. Those would make great counter tops/table tops after a good sanding. Does your buddy have a bead on any old lanes? From the looks of things I'm about an hour away from you.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Maybe it's the bowl in the background of the final picture, but I thought it kind of looked like a giant pestle.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Could you try to blast it with a heat gun to soften up the plastic to cut easier, not sure what specific material that layer is. At least you've got a bunch of wood mallets to use with chisels for sculpting or carving.