Carvers Mallet (from bowling pins)

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Project by Randall Sly posted 493 days ago 1218 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


181 posts in 1409 days

#1 posted 493 days ago

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


3157 posts in 633 days

#2 posted 493 days ago

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

47 posts in 506 days

#3 posted 492 days ago

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


148 posts in 987 days

#4 posted 492 days ago

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

View KCFLY's profile


4 posts in 506 days

#5 posted 492 days ago

That looks great!

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

View cajunpen's profile


14376 posts in 2692 days

#6 posted 492 days ago

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 497 days

#7 posted 492 days ago

Very cool!

-- Dusty, Phoenix

View JJohnston's profile


1577 posts in 1917 days

#8 posted 492 days ago

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

-- "Sorry I'm late. Somebody tampered with my brakes." "You should have been early, then."

View CL810's profile


1954 posts in 1614 days

#9 posted 492 days ago

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.

-- "It's amazing how much can go wrong when you think you know what you're doing."

View Randall Sly's profile

Randall Sly

47 posts in 506 days

#10 posted 492 days ago

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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