Monday, July 4, 2016

North American Bowling Pins Display

Years ago I dreamed of making some sort of basement, or backyard bowling lane.  So I worked hard on procuring and restoring a set of 10 standard bowling pins.

But I didn't stop there.  I also got a hold of a set of 10 Duck Pins...

...10 Candle Pins...

...and 5 Canadian Pins.

Eventually I wound up in a house where I could build such a lane, but I found my dream of making a bowling lane was not as great as it once was.  So all my pins sat in large bins, taking up space.

One day I decided to try and sell off all my pins, but it seemed no one was as eager as I once was to own all these pins.  So I thought I'd be creative with the pins - like make a trophy or display, showcasing each style of bowling pin from North America.

(In actuality, there are 5 types of pins 'regularly' played in North America.  Pictured below from Right to Left: Standard 10-pin, Candle Pin, Canadian 5-Pin, Duck Pin and Rubber Band Duck Pin.  Since the 2 duck pins are the same size pin - one with and one without the rubber bumper - I decided not to try and hunt those down).

So I sketch my simple idea of a bowling pin display on paper...

...and it looks similar to whats pictured below:  All 4 pins - in size order - attached to a wood base.

With my idea set, I needed to restore the pins a little better.  So I began stripping the red tape that was on each pin.

My standard pins and duck pins were all authentic wood pins which I had restored.  When I removed the tape some of the paint peeled off.

The Canadian and Candle pins were authentic, but they are made out of plastic rather than wood.  The Canadian pins also have a large blue rubber bumper around it - which might be difficult to paint later on.  When I first got these, I didn't "restore" the Canadian or Candle pins - I simply wrapped new red tape around them.

So I began sanding the standard pins so that the area where the paint ripped off was smooth.

Then I did the same for the Duck pins.

When it came to the Canadian pins I couldn't easily sand them since they were plastic.

So I did what I could to remove dirt and leftover tape, using lacquer thinner and a razor.

The same thing applied to the plastic Candle pins.

After a while I had 5 sets of the 4 pins done.  I can only make 5 of these sets since I only have 5 Canadian pins. 

Next it was time to add primer to all the pins.  

I easily added primer to the standard, Candle and Duck pins.

The Canadian pins took a bit more work since there is a bottom ledge thanks to the rubber bumpers.

While the pins dried I went out and bought some wood for making the base of the display.  I didn't cut anything yet - it's getting hot in Arizona and I have a few fans on in my garage.  Cutting wood would kick up saw dust which would inevitably stick to the pins.

When the primer had dried everything looked fine with the exception of 2 Canadian pins.  These 2 are really roughed up... I added some plastic wood putty in an effort to try and smooth them.

While the filler did its thing, I took the dry bowling pins and began sanding them with a fine sanding sponge.

The standard and duck pins did fine.

The plastic Candle pins did scratch a little too easily.

So I sanded them a little softly.  

The same thing applied to the plastic Canadian pins.

When the filler dried on the 2 other Canadian Pins I began sanding.  Plastic wood is tough, so I needed my mouse sander.  But the results were good and the 2 pins definitely looked better.

With all the sanding done, I cleaned each pin and then added more coats of primer.

When the primer dried I then painted red around the necks of each pin (center of the Candle pin).

I did this to 2 sets of pins.

Then I let the red paint dry overnight.

The next day I wrapped painters tape around the necks/center of each pin.

Then I painted each pin white.

After letting the pins dry another day, I peeled off the blue tape.

The standard and duck pins did well.  One Candle pin had some paint tear off when removing the tape... did one Canadian pin.  The Canadian pin's rubber bumper also refused to fully dry.  It wasn't wet - just very tacky.

I solved that problem by spraying some clear coat on the rubber bumper.

So I have 1 full set done.

Then I repainted and retaped the 2 errors.  When the pins were dry I added red electrical tape around the rubber bumpers of the 2 Canadian pins.

And now I have 2 complete sets.

But I didn't stop there.  I fixed up and repainted all of my pins different colors, such as black with red stripes... with black stripes...

...and silver with black stripes.

With all my Canadian Pins used up, I proceeded to make 3-pin sets.  These were also different colors, such as bronze with white stripes... with white stripes... and silver "marble" with white stripes...

...and 2 pink pins with white stripes.

The remaining 4 pins I had were painted white.  I'll eventually do something weird or funny with these pins and send them to some of my friends.

Not a bad looking collection of pins!

I plan on selling these sets on ebay as "North American Bowling Pin Collections". 

Hopefully I can fetch a few dollars for these 3 and 4 pin sets!  Fingers crossed!

With the pins all painted and done, I can go back to work on the trophy.  I took the wood I bought earlier and began measuring and marking the cuts... well as the positions of each pin.

Using a center punch, I made an indentation for each spot the pins will go.

Then I cut the 2 boards to size with the miter saw.

Next I sanded each piece with some medium-grit sandpaper...

...and then rounded the top edges at the router table.

Then one more sanding, this time with fine sandpaper.

Now it was time to attach the 2 pieces.  I used a glue brush to cover the top piece...

...then I clamped the 2 pieces together and let it dry for a few hours.

When it was all dry I removed the clamps.

I placed the pins on the display to see how it will look - and it looks good to me.

So then I stained the display and let it dry for a few more hours.

While it was drying I found 4 screws that were threaded on both ends.  These will do nicely to hold the pins in place.

When the display was dry I drilled holes and screwed in the screws, letting them stick out a good amount.

Then I placed each pin in place and I'm done!

To make sure the screws did their jobs, I knocked over each pin to see if it would fall off the display.  The Canadian 5-pin comes close, but none of the pins fall off.  I initially wanted the pins to be firmly attached to the display, but this method lets me remove the pins whenever I want.

It took a few days to refurbish these (and the other) pins.

The display only took a few hours - mostly for glue and stain to dry.

I can put my pin display pretty much anywhere.  Even a high shelf in my garage.  The screws will hold the pins should a strong breeze come by and attempt to knock the pins over.

Even though all my other pins will soon be gone, I know I have one of each to look at and smile.  I will still dream of one day having a large bowling lane to play on, and if I ever do I have one of each pin to get me started!

Thanks for reading!


  1. I know this is an older post, but I love this! I have always been fascinated by the different types of bowling and used to have a dream of opening a large bowling center that featured lanes of all the major types, plus an area for ninepein, skittles, maybe some bocce.

    1. Thank you! I actually had the same dream once!