How Bowling Pins Are Made

Pin specifications are set by the World Tenpin Bowling Association (WTBA).

Regional and national associations such as the United States Bowling Congress and Tenpin Bowling Australia adopt the WTBA standard, so that specifications are standard world-wide.

Pins are 4.75 inches (120.65 mm) at their widest point and 15 inches (380 mm) tall.  They weigh 3 lb. 6 oz (1.53 kg), although as of 1998 pins weighing up to 3 lb 10 oz (1.64 kg) are approved.  The weight of the pins was originally based on the principle of physics, with the idea that a pin should be at around 24-percent the weight of the heaviest bowling ball within regulation of 16 lb 0 oz (7.25 kg).

Bowling pins are constructed by gluing blocks of rock maple wood into the approximate shape, and then turning on a lathe.

After the lathe shapes the pin, it is coated with a plastic material, painted, and covered with a glossy finish.

Because of the scarcity of suitable wood, bowling pins can be made from approved synthetics.  Currently there are synthetic pins sanctioned for play in five-pin, duckpin, and candlepin.  There is one synthetic tenpin model approved by the USBC. 

When hit by the ball, synthetic pins usually sound different to wood pins.