Carvers Mallet (from bowling pins)

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Project by Randall Sly posted 04-16-2013 10:49 AM 3452 views 3 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Here’s my take on the classic carvers mallet and a fun re-claimed wood lathe project any skill level can complete.

Most people do not realize that a regulation bowling pin is made from laminated maple, usually Canadian maple or often called rock maple. Bowling centers change out pins for many reasons, usually just wear and damage to the plastic skin but occasionally due to poor performance and failed lamination. The plastic lamination can be removed while on a lathe however I highly recommended you skin the pin before locking it between centers. The best part for beginning turners is that half of the shaping lathe work has already been done for you. The best part for the end user is the comfort of custom made to fit handle.

-- I could retire nicely if I could sell my experience for what it cost me.

10 comments so far

View 49bill's profile


183 posts in 3638 days

#1 posted 04-16-2013 11:09 AM

Nice mallet thanks for sharing . I didn’t know that bowling pins were made from maple I have two of them that the plastic is peeling off so I may try making a mallet out of them. Good job on the turning.

-- Bill, Quitman, Georgia

View JoeinGa's profile


7741 posts in 2862 days

#2 posted 04-16-2013 11:32 AM

Geeze louISE! In preparation for our upcoming move, just last week I threw out 2 bowling pins that I’ve been carting around for almost 20 years.

My wife complains that I’m a pack-rat and I keep telling her, “See? Every time I throw something away, an idea comes along the next day (or week) on what I COULDA done with that thing!”

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View Randall Sly's profile

Randall Sly

48 posts in 2736 days

#3 posted 04-16-2013 04:09 PM

It happens (or so I’m told) yeah it happens I always seem to toss something just days before a use or need arises from it. I only have one other tip for anyone wanting to attempt this project and that is if your out and about begging for pins, some higher end centers may use synthetic pins, another good reason to skin the pin before turning.

Thank you for the kind words.

-- I could retire nicely if I could sell my experience for what it cost me.

View Rickterscale's profile


167 posts in 3216 days

#4 posted 04-16-2013 04:16 PM

Great idea. I’ll have to try to pick some up.

View KCFLY's profile


4 posts in 2736 days

#5 posted 04-16-2013 06:54 PM

That looks great!

Any tips on peeling the pin to make that an easy (or easier) process?

View cajunpen's profile


14578 posts in 4921 days

#6 posted 04-16-2013 10:36 PM

Very clever idea – now to find some pins.

-- Bill - "Suit yourself and let the rest be pleased."

View Dusty Travis's profile

Dusty Travis

14 posts in 2727 days

#7 posted 04-17-2013 01:12 AM

Very cool!

-- Dusty, Phoenix

View JJohnston's profile


1622 posts in 4147 days

#8 posted 04-17-2013 01:14 AM

Where does one get a bowling pin? I tried once, but was told that “we’ve got a guy we give them to”.

-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

View CL810's profile


4059 posts in 3844 days

#9 posted 04-17-2013 01:35 AM

Great idea Randall! I see these at flea markets sometimes and I can’t wait to try it. Thanks!

Welcome to LJ’S – every now & then a photo thread starts up.

Great signature line btw.

-- "The only limits to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today." - FDR

View Randall Sly's profile

Randall Sly

48 posts in 2736 days

#10 posted 04-17-2013 09:04 AM

KC – I would say my best success (other than turning it off on the lathe) was using the Dremel with the circular saw attachment and cutting the skin top to bottom both sides and pulling it off like a peanut shell.

Bill, JJohnston, CL810 – Brunswick Centers send all the used pins back to Brunswick (this I remember). AMF Centers claim they do also but I recall getting a few pins from one. The smaller independent lanes just throw them out and they are generally at the end of their life expectancy. Ask to talk to the pin setter mechanic and he will most likely say no problem and let the manager know. The last option, schedule your next birthday party at a bowling center, and they usually include a bowling pin for your guests to sign, this however is likely more expensive than just buying a new one.

I suppose it helped that my children are league bowlers but I told the manager I re-purpose reclaimed wood and would like some pins (he didn’t even know they were made of wood this may also be why he’s no longer the manager) and walked away with a full box.

CL – A lot of Great photos in that thread, thanks for the heads up.

-- I could retire nicely if I could sell my experience for what it cost me.

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