Anyone who has frequented a bowling alley will be familiar with the signature features: the ball return racks, the shiny wood flooring, and of course—those white pins. A lot of people, including my kids, are interested in bringing a few pins home. But do bowling alleys sell used pins?
Bowling alleys do sell used pins. However, they are not always guaranteed to have pins that they are willing to sell you. Luck plays a factor in acquiring used pins from bowling alleys. The sale is usually informal in nature, so it’s best to personally reach out to them and see what they may have.
In this article, I will discuss the different types of bowling pins, where they can be purchased, and the cost that is to be anticipated. I will also going to discuss how bowling pins are made briefly and the materials used. Lastly, I will go over some fun, non-conventional uses for bowling pins, which may help get the creative juices flowing, so keep reading.
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Where to Purchase Used Bowling Pins
Finding bowling pins to purchase can sometimes be a little bit of a challenge, but if you are committed to locating them, you are sure to track down some treasures.
There are many different ways in which bowling pins can be found and purchased, so if the first route you explore does not yield results, do not become discouraged.
Here are some different options, how to explore them, and the pros and cons of each:
Purchasing Bowling Pins Locally
When considering where to buy bowling pins, the first recommendation is to explore local alleys for used pins which they may be willing to part with for a fair price. The best way to inquire with local bowling alleys about their used pins is to call, or better yet, show up in person and ask.
Purchasing bowling pins from a local alley is typically informal, meaning that it is not advertised to the public, and no fixed price will likely be in place. Pins will need to be sold by a manager and not by a casual employee.
Always be friendly, courteous, and if they do not happen to have any for sale, ask if they may have any idea where you will have more luck.
The second and most reliable way of purchasing used bowling pins is online. The “marketplace” feature on Facebook can be a great option for connecting with local sellers and collectors who may be willing to work out a deal with you.
You would also be well advised to search eBay using the search query “used bowling pins.” Here you are almost guaranteed to find bowling pins available for sale. These will range in price based on their rarity and physical condition. Keep in mind that depending on your location in relation to the seller’s, shipping or travel may be necessary, and additional cost may be incurred.
How Much Are Used Bowling Pins Worth?
Generally speaking, used bowling pins are usually very affordable. It is not uncommon to find an entire set of ten pins for between $50-$100 USD. Even vintage collector pins can typically be purchased online for about $20-$30 USD.
Never overpay, do research, compare prices, and know what you are getting before you commit to the purchase.
Types of Bowling Pins
When most people think of bowling, what they likely have in mind is 10-pin. This is the most common style of bowling; however, many other types of bowling exist and often use radically different pins in terms of size and shape.
Here are some details on the different types of pins found in each version of the game.
Ten-pin bowling pins are the classic, big white pins with one or two red stripes around the neck. These pins stand 15 inches tall and are 2.75 inches in diameter at the base. They are heavy, with the standard weight being 3 pounds and 6 ounces. This provides the pins with stability, making them more difficult to knock down with the ball.
Five-pin bowling is a variation of the sport which is exclusively contested in Canada. This game uses much smaller pins than the formerly mentioned ten-pin style, and only five, as the name implies.
The pins used in five-pin are 12 ⅜ inches tall, with a base diameter of 1 ⅝ inch, and weigh in at 2 pounds and 7 ounces. Five-pin bowling pins are made from hard, durable plastic and are also fitted with a protruding band that surrounds the pin and provides additional weight to stabilize it.
Without a doubt, the most unique pins described on this list are candle pins. Candle-pin bowling is a game that is played on the eastern coast of Canada, as well as in the States of New England.
These pins stand 15 ⅗ inches tall and are cylindrical in shape, giving them the resemblance of candlesticks.
Duck-pin bowling pins are 9 ⅖ tall and are easily identified by their chubby middle section. Duck pins can make a great addition to any collection, as their unique appearance always draws attention.
How Are Bowling Pins Made?
The process of making bowling pins can be deceptively difficult. A bowling pin must be weighted properly, perfectly symmetrical, and have incredible structural integrity in order to perform properly. Any deficiency in the pin’s design can drastically alter how it functions during the game. This is why strict regulations are in place for bowling pin manufacturers.
Because of the abuse which bowling pins are constantly subjected to, durability is a must. For this reason, bowling pins are constructed from hard maple wood, making them resistant to cracks and dents.
Once the wooden base has been shaped to perfection in a lathe machine, it is then coated with a plastic exterior in order to prevent it from ever being chipped or broken. Finally, the pin is painted with its traditional white color and topped off with the signature red stripe(s).
Bowling pins have incredible longevity. Pins do eventually wear out or break. However, bowling alleys will typically replace them with newly manufactured pins every year or two as a matter of formality. This is the time when, if you are lucky, you can pick up your very own set.
Typical Uses for Used Bowling Pins
Bowling pins can make for some incredible arts & crafts creations. They can be sanded, repainted, styled, and personalized. I’ve written a post on painting bowling pins.
Refurbished pins can also be used to make one of a kind pieces of furniture. Some of the most common unconventional uses for old and used bowling pins are:
- Coffee tables
- Chair/bench legs
- Garden fixtures
The cool and unique creations that can be made from a simple set of used bowling pins are practically endless.
Bowling alleys sell their used pins at their own discretion and typically on a person to person basis. There is no set price for what one may expect to pay, but $50-$100 is an average market price for a set of pins in decent shape.
The internet may also prove to be the best way to acquire pins of your own, so explore your options, and leave no stone unturned.