Skittlebowl Table Top Bowling Game

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Skittlebowl is a table top bowling game originally made back in the 1960s by a toy company called Aurora as the first part in their “Skittle” game series. I designed this wooden version of the game to be totally collapsible and easily transportable. Game played with the same rules as 10 pin bowling.


Build Details

Materials used includes:
Reclaimed 3/4″ pine boards for main box, triangle, and pin holder
3/8″ plywood for the sides of the box and the top of the triangle
Hardwood for the pole holders, ball, & pins (I used cherry & mahogany because it’s what I had on hand)
7/8″ dowel for the pole
Hardware including 3/4″ conduit, long screw, pan head screws, box latch, piano hinge, and stainless steel ball chain

Start creating the main box by cutting the main side pieces to length. I used box joints on the corners because of the strength and appearance, but other joints could also work.
My box joint jig is just a simple pin type jig where I move the piece over after each pass. Since my saw does not accept a dado stack, I just install 2 regular blades next to one another to get about a 3/16″ finger.

Dry fit before gluing and then be as fast as you can to clamp it up because of all of the surface area of glue on these joints.

Also, be sure to verify square during clamping. I make the fingers just a little long and sand them down after the box is dry.

Cut the box down to final width after the glue-up is complete.

Plywood is added to each face with glue and clamps. This plywood is slightly oversize, to be cut down later with a flush trim bit and sanding.

When the main box is complete and sanded, it’s time to cut it in half to allow it to fold down the middle.

I use the plans to pull the exact dimensions and angles of all of the triangle pieces. The sides are all ripped to width and then cut to length/angle. The same plywood used on the main box is used for the triangle as well and then cut down the seam where the box folds.

Each side of the box needs a dado to accept the overlap of the triangle. The triangle is traced onto the box and is then cut using a skill saw and handsaw.

The triangles are glued & tacked in place and clamped tight.

With the triangles complete, the piano hinge can be installed to allow the box to fold in half. The hinge is cut to length using a hacksaw.

A dado is cut in each side of the box with the depth of cut being exactly equal to half the size of the barrel of the hinge.

Install the hinge with just a couple of screws on either side, then fine-tune the fit until the sides line up perfectly.

Each of the pole holders is cut from a piece of cherry. The pattern is drawn with a square & compass and holes are drilled the size of the pole.

I drafted a plan in AutoCAD for the design and printed out a full scale set to measure off of. For anyone who is interested, plans are available in my store.

Holes are drilled in each of the pole holders at 3/4″, the same width as the poles.

Each one is predrilled, screwed, and plugged, then the plugs are sanded flush.

All of the sharp corners are rounded over using a 1/16″ round-over bit. This may not seem like much, but it feels great as a finish and also works to visually hide any inconsistencies in any of the pieces. A latch is added to the outside as well.

The pin & ball holder is simply made from 2 more pieces of the reclaimed pine. The side is installed with just enough room to fit the height of the pins.

The top is attached with a remaining piece of piano hinge.

The pan head screws are installed on the triangle

The handle for the box is created by just cutting out a section on one end of the box.

The pole is cut from a 7/8″ dowel. One end is predrilled and a large screw is attached until the threads are buried in the wood.

The head of the screw is then ground off to allow for the chain holder to slip over.

Then each of the poles is shaved down to fit into the conduit using the table saw and attaching it to the drill on one end using a screw to rotate it.

A 3/4″ piece of electrical conduit is cut down to act as a coupler between the two parts of the pole.

The pins were turned from some reclaimed mahogany deck balusters, although any hardwood would be appropriate.

They are turned to be 1-1/2″ in the middle and 1″ on the ends.

Each pin is drilled on both ends at a size just larger then the head of the pan-head screws.

This is what holds the pins in place.

I glued up some of the same mahogany used for the pins to make the ball. I decided to make a few while I was at it. Once they were shaped, I parted them off and reattached them by pinching between the two jaws to take off the nubs where they were parted.

I used compressed air to clean the box out and then finished the whole thing with spray polyurethane.

Another piece of hardwood is cut out for use as the chain holder and a hole is cut for both the screw pin and the ball chain.

The stainless steel ball chain is installed at a length such that the ball will not touch the near side of the triangle, but will just hit the furthest pin.

Paste wax was also used in the holes of the pin holders and also on the top screw where the chain holder pivots.

Assembling the game simply involves unfolding, installing the pole, installing the ball holder on the pole and setting up the pins. Let the competition begin!