What Are Bowling Pins Made Of (Inside and Out)

If you're a bowler, you may be wondering what bowling pins are made of. Are they made of wood? plastic? metal? or something else entirely?
bowling pins

In this article, we’ll take a look at the core materials used to make bowling pins and discuss the benefits and drawbacks of each core material.

What are bowling pins made of

Wood. The bowling pin is made of hard rock maple wood. The bowling pin shape is skinny on top and fat and chunky on the bottom. The shape helps the pin to remain upright when it’s hit by a bowling ball.


A few centuries ago, bowling pins were made of a single block of hard maple. The use of pin setters made the pins less durable, and in 1954, Vulcan Manufacturing produced the first bowling pin able to resist the impact of the pin setters.

Maple wood

Historically, bowling pins were made of solid pieces of maple wood, but the invention of pin setters made them prone to damage and cracks, so Vulcan Manufacturing invented a new way to make bowling pins. Since pins would eventually break, the first layer of protective coating was added to the maple wood.

Protective coating

bowling pins on grey background

In the 1960s, a special coating was invented to apply over the bowling pins to ensure they resist impact. This plastic-coated pin could resist tumbling from the automatic pin setter. It also allowed them to create really solid pins that were during against fast-traveling bowling balls.

The coating thickness has a varying density but is generally between 1/8 and 3/16 of an inch thick.

Construction regulation

Today, the American Bowling Congress and Women’s International Bowling Congress control the construction of modern bowling pins. They have maintenance procedures and regulations on how to maintain bowling pins so they last longer.

Bowling pin material

Today, bowling pins are made of wood or synthetic material. They must endure a lot of impact over their lifetime. Hard materials like maple make the pins more durable.

Many durability tests have been performed over the years and many materials have been tried.

Particle Lumber

This proved to be a horrible material for bowling pins and was quickly abandoned. It’s made from wood chips and glue and is extremely weak in comparison to hardwood.


Plastic pins cracked too easily and were eventually abandoned for use as bowling pins.


Nylon would have been a good choice if it wasn’t so expensive. It is more durable than wood and plastic but the cost-benefit ratio just doesn’t make it a viable option for pins.

The Entire Pin is Filled with Hard Rock Maple

None have been as hard as the hard rock maple. This gives the pin a good solid weight that other core materials just couldn’t achieve.

What are bowling pins made of (History)

Bowling pins have been made of hard maple wood and coated in a synthetic polymer like Nylon or Surlyn since the 1960s.

What are bowling pins made of (Trivia)

If you’ve ever played bowling, even just for fun, you know how much pressure the pins are under. balls are thrown at them with high force and velocity from all directions – it’s a wonder they don’t snap in half during a game!

So what gives? What stops them from breaking? The answer lies in their composition and how they’re crafted.

Quality Control

Foreman controlling the quality of product

The American Bowling Congress and Women’s International Bowling Congress set the standards for bowling pins. They certify that each pin meets professional grade specifications in terms of weight, size, shape, and material.

The coating on the bowling pins adds another layer of protection – making them resistant to impact and wear and tear.


The design of the bowling pins has remained pretty much unchanged since 1954 when Vulcan Manufacturing developed the first plastic-coated pin. The shape and size have been kept the same to help with stability when hit by a bowling ball.

The Bowling Pin Materials History

The bowling pins of today are made up of many different materials. In the past, bowling pins were typically only made from hard rock maple wood.

The Bowling Pin Design

When you ask someone what they think bowling pins are made of, they’ll probably say metal because it’s so strong and indestructible. Imagine their surprise when you tell them that bowling pins are actually made out of wood! Pins have to endure a lot of impact, so we use a tough type of wood like Hard Rock Maple. The durability and manufacturing versatility make maple the perfect material for making bowling pins.

Construction Process

miniature bowling pins

If you’re admiring a pin and wondering how it was made from a block of wood, here’s the process:

The initial blocks of wood are cut to form a general outline before being layered together. These layers are then sawed to create smoother contours. The manufacturer will add coats consisting of hard plastic or laminate lacquer to give the finished product more shine.

Despite all of the latest technology and advancements, the process of constructing bowling pins has not changed in over 60 years! In the late 1800s, solid pieces of maple wood were used. However, with the invention of pin setters in the 1940s, these became damaged easily and required more replacement.

In the 1950s, Vulcan Manufacturing created a solution to this problem by gluing smaller pieces of maple together. This made it possible to control the weight of each pin while still making them strong enough to withstand being hit by bowling balls and tumbled around in a pin setter.

Although coatings on pins were being crafted, they had a negative impact because solid pins were heftier and thereby affecting people’s bowling scores.

Vulcan’s new pin design was much simpler to utilize because the weight could be adjusted. This resulted in the invention of the modern bowling pin, and by early 1960s, all solid wood pins were replaced.

The construction of modern bowling pins is regulated by the American Bowling Congress (ABC) and the Women’s International Bowling Congress (WIBC). These regulations require that the maple wood used in the pins be harvested from trees grown above the 45th parallel! This is because trees grown in this region have a lower mineral concentration, which results in a denser wood.

There are currently two types of coatings used to protect the wood and give the pin its white appearance: nylon and Surlyn. The coating processes for each type vary depending on which one is being applied. For example, when using a nylon coating, the Pin must first be sealed in latex to abate chipping before it can be coated with nylon.

Lastly, a clear gloss coat is sprayed over the pin, and the pin skirt is glued onto the bottom of the pin. Can last up to a year but recoating every six months is suggested.

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