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Thread: Turning old bowling pins

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2008

    Turning old bowling pins

    The local community center has a fund raiser by repurposing bowling pins into other objects. My wife thought this looked life FUN project so she got one for me to turn into something for them. The old pins have thick plastic coating over the wood has anyone worked with bowling pins on wood lathe? I was concerned about turning the plastic off it looks might be very grabby? I do not need to reinvent the process if someone else has been there. Thanks for input.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Kapolei Hawaii
    The plastic turns off easy. BUT it does come off in a string that tangles with everything.
    Be careful, the pins I turned were segmented and have voids, probably for enhanced "sound" of the pins when they get hit. Pretty "interesting" to run into a void with a parting tool when you don't expect it. I also have heard that some pins have a metal rod for weight and balance. The ones I turned didn't.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Hayes, Virginia
    I remember turning bowling pins in a woodshop class in junior high school. We made lamps from the bowling pins but I can't remember any details about the turning process, its been a very long time ago

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Aurora, IL
    The plastic does turn easily, but I have had it come off in strings that whip you hands. I started wearing work gloves to get the plastic off. Once the plastic is off, the maple turns beautifully. The voids are actually designed in. The computerized machines that put the wood together balance the pins so the void help maintain that balance. (Apparently maple can have different densities and weight and if the pin is heavier on one side, it could fall over - or stand upright - more easily.) Just plan on working around the void. Generally works into a nice vase or candle stand.

    Nothing is idiot-proof for a sufficiently ingenious idiot!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    E TN, near Knoxville
    Quote Originally Posted by David Dockstader View Post
    The plastic does turn easily, but I have had it come off in strings that whip you hands. ...
    When turning acrylic and other plastic I discovered that with a strong cyclone dust collector pickup just behind the piece it could pick up the end of a long string and suck the entire string away from the piece as it peeled off the lathe! No more plastic string tangles.


    (doesn't work so well for aluminum tangles!


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Inver Grove Heights, MN
    Like Keith I made a lamp out of a bowling pin in Junior high, 63 years ago.

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