Bowling Alley - Lets go bowling

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Project by doubleDD posted 02-27-2020 04:51 PM 1415 views 2 times favorited 44 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I inherited a bunch of bowling pins from my brother when he passed so it inspired me to make a bowling game. I was excited to start on it but didn’t want it to be or sound like a small marble running across a sheet of plastic. I had intentions of getting some realistic action out of it.
Starting off joining some Maple boards then resawing it to 1/2’’ thick and adding a 1/2’’ Baltic birch backer. To add color the gutters were made from Makore and the back fence was Beli, a lot like Zebra wood. I wanted it to be somewhat easier to carry around so the alley was cut in half and joined by countersinking a piano hinge. The rubber feet helped transfer the bowling sound by keeping the sound on the board instead of a table where it it be set. Holes were cut in the bottom so the rubber feet would fit in when folded.
There is a choice of three different shooters for the ball. Two drop and roll and one rubberband power. I needed to add a magnet to the rubberband power one to hold the ball as you set up your shot. Three holes at the front so you have a choice of different angles to shoot from. Choosing the right material and size ball was the hardest thing and took the longest. A wooden ball didn’t cut the mustard. A metal ball seemed to be the ticket. I started with a 1 3/4’’ and that just blew the pins away. Almost a strike everytime. I ended up with a 1 1/4’’ steel ball and it works perfect. Gives off a good sound too. Tongue and groove was used in areas for strength and easy to dismantle.
Approximately 15’’ wide and 50’’ long. Finished with 3 coats of urethane. This thing weighs almost 25 lbs. Something I didn’t consider when building. But if you’re looking for some quality that’s what you get.
I’ll add a few more pictures down below.
Everyone loves it and my son and daughter with their husband and wife already turned it into a drinking game. LOL.
Of course a carrying case was needed for storage and to lug it around.
I’ll have to work on a video of it in action.
Thanks for looking.
Big big thanks to Tony Woodshaver for his help in getting this video to work for me. Thanks Tony. You still owe me a 3 frame match.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

44 comments so far

View doubleDD's profile


10700 posts in 3285 days

#1 posted 02-27-2020 05:07 PM

1st pic shows neatly fitting in th case.

The tongue and groove in areas for dismantling and strength.

Countersinking the hinge keeps it close when folded up.

For the finish on the bowling alley and the case I used 50/50 mix urethane and mineral spirits and used sandpaper to rub in the first coat. This is like a 3 in on process. First coat, a seal coat and no nubs to sand before puttin on next coat.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View doubleDD's profile


10700 posts in 3285 days

#2 posted 02-27-2020 05:11 PM

Drilling a 3 1/2’’ hole in the 4’ pins helped give the pin that hollow sound. I was really pleased with it. I had a hard time whether or not to paint the pins but decided a quick caot of white will show off usage marks in the future.

Of course, last but not least the carrying case.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View recycle1943's profile


5853 posts in 2865 days

#3 posted 02-27-2020 05:14 PM

wow – what a neat project and darned attractive to boot. Please don’t tell me you got enough angle and slant for the ball to return – that would be outrageous

-- Dick, Malvern Ohio - my biggest fear is that when I die, my wife sells my toys for what I told her I paid for them

View John's profile


2107 posts in 2512 days

#4 posted 02-27-2020 05:17 PM

Dave that has to be a one-of-a-kind!!!!!! Very cool!

-- John, Sunshine Coast, BC, Canada.

View splintergroup's profile


5863 posts in 2465 days

#5 posted 02-27-2020 05:35 PM

Nice size! I like the way you can relax on the couch while playing and not have to wear the funny shoes.

I bet the game room floor gets some “character” when the occasional misfired steely goes rogue 8^)

View Jerry's profile


3488 posts in 2890 days

#6 posted 02-27-2020 05:55 PM

Very impressive workmanship Dave. Never seen that before!

-- There are good ships and there are wood ships, the ships that sail the sea, but the best ships are friendships and may they always be.

View luv2learn's profile


3144 posts in 3545 days

#7 posted 02-27-2020 06:39 PM

Wow Dave what a unique and ambitious project you took on. I love it and I bet all that get to play enjoy it too.

-- Lee - Northern idaho~"If the women don't find you handsome, at least they ought to find you handy"~ Red Green

View therealSteveN's profile (online now)


8853 posts in 1817 days

#8 posted 02-27-2020 06:58 PM

Fond memories at the Lake when all of the bars/eateries had a lane along a wall, and some times spent standing there. Yours is but a mini version, but neither were a full on bowling alley.

Nice post.

-- Think safe, be safe

View Rich1955's profile


384 posts in 633 days

#9 posted 02-27-2020 07:00 PM

Wow, this is really cool, I like the shooters too. Looks like it will be a lot of fun. Great build!

-- Rich

View wildwoodbybrianjohns's profile


2841 posts in 790 days

#10 posted 02-27-2020 07:31 PM

Agree with A.O.T.A! So cool. I also like that you dont have to wear the funky funkified shoes to play.

-- WWBBJ: It is better to be interesting and wrong, than boring and right.

View doubleDD's profile


10700 posts in 3285 days

#11 posted 02-27-2020 08:22 PM

Hi Dick. Don’t laugh but I figured out a way to do that. Little late now that it being assembled but very doable. Maybe on the next one.

Thanks John. I tried to put a lot of different features on it to keep it interesting.

Thanks Splintergroup. You can relax on the couch and take a shot but you’ll need someone else to set the pins. LOL.

Jerry the idea of this is very similar to a lot of them out there only this is built well and should last a long time.

Thanks Lee. So far everyone has enjoyed it. The goal is to get that strike and it’s not as easy as they think.

realSteve, I remember those machines. Our favorite tavern to go to back then was the one with the bowling machine. We always played for a drink.

Thanks Rich. I wanted to give a choice of shooters. Just like real bowling, everyone has their own style.

Wildwoodbybrian thanks. You know those shoes always made me think first before putting them on. LOL.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View horky's profile


328 posts in 4173 days

#12 posted 02-27-2020 08:43 PM

Totally amazing. I really like this. As I make ‘prize games’ for our family reunions, this may well be the game for the 2020 reunion. Thanks for sharing. I may be in touch for some details.

View clieb91's profile


4264 posts in 5177 days

#13 posted 02-27-2020 08:53 PM

Dave, That is awesome looking. Great job!
Not surprised it is quite popular with the family.


-- Chris L. "Don't Dream it, Be it."- (Purveyors of Portable Fun and Fidgets)

View Peteybadboy's profile


4009 posts in 3192 days

#14 posted 02-27-2020 09:10 PM

DD wow is that cool! Way better than corn hole. Looks like a fun bar game. Nicely done.

-- Petey

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

8421 posts in 1825 days

#15 posted 02-27-2020 09:52 PM

I don’t think I was at all surprised to find out you’re a bowler, Dave. ;-)

Nice work. Just don’t let Jesus Quintana know about it. That guy’s even stranger than Kenny.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

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