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Equipment to build a lane


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  • Equipment to build a lane

    Hi everyone,

    First off, I am so happy this forum exists. Seeing your constructions and insights have been extremely inspiring, and watching videos of these lanes in action has inspired me to plan one of my own in the near future. Where I currently live has no viable space to build a lane of any respectable length (all rooms have a purpose as well), but when we move we will be moving to a house/condo that has a dedicated game room.

    I have started to draw up measurements, ordered some candlepin balls, and am going to order some pins from Linds ahead of time.

    I am probably over planning a bit, but I wanted to get an idea of what of the following I should expect to purchase.
    - What types of wood and in what sizes are best for the frame, lane, pit, side walls, pin deck, etc.?
    - What kinds of tools, nails, saws, etc. am I going to need? I currently don't own any significant tools other than a hammer and ratchet set. I would consider myself decent with tools and with my hands, however.
    - If I am in a room like a basement, has the temperature and/or humidity ever been a factor in construction?

    From looking at pictures of Chad and Steve's lanes, I have a good idea of how to build the frame and lane, but I am a bit confused on the pit. What do you use for the cushion and the bottom of the pit?

    Thank you so much for your insights everyone.

  • #2
    Buy the following:

    Cordless drill with bit set
    Tape Measure and level

    The type of wood is up to you. Mine is MDF and I urethaned it with 12 coats or clear. The other guys use real lane panels and/or click-lock flooring from Home Depot or Lowes.

    The pit should slope down from the pindeck so that the pins and ball roll away from the back of the pindeck and under the backstop. The backstop should be angled downward, a la Brunswick, so that the ball does not rebound back toward the pindeck, but rather down into the pit surface. Use a sturdy plank for the cushion and make sure there are no exposed screws on the front side. I covered my cushion with carpet and a piece of rubber.

    Steve used grey felt-type stuff for pit material. I used left over pit carpet out of an AMF machine. Use something soft and sound deadening.


    • #3
      Hi DetroitSignal,

      Thanks for your input. I hadn't found your videos on Youtube so I subscribed to you just a bit ago. I was considering using MDF as the underlayment with click-lock on top - unless my local center has some lane panels left over from their recent resurfacing a few years back (I know the owner and most of the workers there). I think the click-lock would be best because there wouldn't be screw holes along the perimeter of the lane if I just used MDF. However from what i've seen of your videos, it looks like the polyurethane helps cover that up naturally.

      I want to use MDF for the pindeck. From my research, I should put pin spots on, then polyurethane it a few times.

      Do you have a couple of recent pictures of your lane? I'd love to see more.

      Also, what would be the best for a saw, and what would I use to cut the holes for the pinsetter?


      • #4
        Lane Materials

        Hi Jeff,

        Yes, you will need a drill w/ a bit set, circular saw, chop saw, level, good decking screws and lumber. The ordinary 2 x 4's, 2 x 6's, 2 x 10's, and laminate flooring over the MDF lane surface should do fine. However, originally I used Birch plywood for the pindeck, but that started to chip along the sides, so I ordered a real synthetic pindeck from Murrey, custom size for 1/2 scale, and real kickback panels, as my side walls were getting beat up also. To me, this was well worth the investment as since I installed the upgraded real materials, there is not a scratch on them after 1,000 + games. That will be up to you if you want to get the real stuff for the back end, as that takes a real beating. The pit, I used thin felt like carpeting from Lowe's. The curtain I got was from a Brunswick A2 machine, so I just cut the curtain down, and installed a pipe that goes through the top of the curtain to hold it up. For the pindeck, put the spots on with a Sharpie marker, then coat about 6 or 7 coats of clear gloss polyurethane to protect the spots.
        To cut the holes for the pinsetter, I used a hole saw cutter attachment for the drill. I used two different sizes, one size for the bottom sliding deck that releases the pins, and the smaller one for the outside of the electrical conduit pvc tubes I used to hold the pins. I think that was 2 7/8" diameter for that holesaw. Then I used wooden collars around the tubes and used epoxy glue to hold them in place.
        Let me know if you have any other questions....
        --- SteveJT66

        82/70's,kickers,Kegel Kustodian


        • #5
          Ok some more questions. I'm creating some drawings for the framing and lane dimensions. Right now (since I don't yet know where I will be building it since i'm waiting until I move my family to another location) I have measurements for everything except overall length. Just to make sure on the dimensions, everything from lane width to pin separation is exactly half scale. So for example, there should be 6" between each pin in a 60 degree equilateral triangle, and the last row should be 1 1/2" from the back of the pin deck.

          Also in your frame, how far apart did you place the 2x10" cross bracers? I assume I should use something else for the last one near the pit - lay one flat perhaps?


          • #6
            Overall length should be anything UP TO 30' from the front of the lane to the headpin. Most of our lanes fall more in the 20-25' range because of space constraints. My lane was built more modular so it could be moved for sewer cleanout, so it contains sections rather than a more permanent structure like Steve's. I basically built three sections made of whatever I had leftover from building the bar and walls in the basement. I will try to get more pics after I finish cleaning the basement.


            • #7
              Hi Jeff,
              Yes, anything UP TO 30 feet, Mine is 20 ft. one inch or so from foul line to center of headpin. You have the pin spots correct! 6 inches from center to center in an equilateral 60 deg. triangle. My cross pieces are two feet apart, each one is a 2 X 10 piece of wood. I have four 2X4's going underneath my pindeck from front to back direction. Just be sure your pindeck is very solid.
              --- SteveJT66

              82/70's,kickers,Kegel Kustodian


              • #8
                Thanks for the answers guys I really appreciate it. I got the candlepin balls that I ordered last week, and my pins should be coming soon. I ordered one set to start and will order a 2nd set in the future. The Linds rep I dealt with was really nice and I got a set for $75 plus shipping.

                Steve some more questions for you. When you talk about the 2x4's going underneath your pindeck from front to back, are they the same length as the pindeck itself? Or do they extend under the lane a bit?

                Is the pindeck the same thickness as the MDF + laminate flooring, or do you have to put extra material under the pindeck to get them to line up?

                Is a 30 degree incline for the bottom of the pit sufficient?

                And lastly, do you have to use any dampening to cut down on stray vibrations at the end of the lane? For example, a hard throwing bowler whips the ball down and it hits the pit curtain at such a clip that it causes the entire back end to vibrate - which may shake or knock over some pins only because of the vibration.

                Thank you again for your insights. I really appreciate it!

                - Jeff


                • #9
                  Wow, the Linds pins went up again? I was charged $69 per set, and their site said $62 but told me the price had increased. Anyway, the supports underneath the pindeck go under the lane a bit. I have two 2 x 10's near the front edge of the pindeck, one a few inches before the edge, and another a few inches after the edge. So, I doubled up on the supports near the edge. I had to shim the pindeck up slightly, about the thickness of a matchbook cover. I think I used a thin piece of cardboard, and even a few sheets of newspaper to get it just the right level. Keep checking levelness from front to back and side to side every step of the way.
                  I am not sure what angle my pindeck slopes, but enough to get the pins and balls to roll to the back of the pit. I believe 30 degrees is more than sufficient.. and for the dampening, I used a thin carpet material to line the pit and sides up to the sidepanels. Every once in a while I have someone throw the ball really hard and if it goes in the gutter, and hits very hard,the pins can shake a bit and even fall over, but that I think when the ball hits my side panel on the beveled corner as the ball comes into contact and hits it at the right angle shakes things. Doesn't happen very often, but I have to install sloped boards in the edges of my gutters to give it that "rounded" look, and that should keep the ball away from the side panel and hopefully eliminate that bad effect entirely. If you send me your e-mail address, I can forward you some of my construction pics of the lane.
                  --- SteveJT66

                  82/70's,kickers,Kegel Kustodian


                  • #10
                    Good stuff here. Mine is way oversupported. My whole family can walk on my lane. But I would definitely up the reinforcement at the beginning of the lane (where the balls will be making contact when they are rolled) and the pindeck area.

                    My pit is also sloped to the rear (I forget how many degrees off-hand but 30 degrees sounds like plenty) and I have carpet covered with a nice black nylon material covering it so that my pins all slide out the back into a catch area. My cushion allows pins to pass underneath but stops balls. I also have a nice heavy rubber curtain because My original design just had a cushioned back of the pit without a curtain but really fast thrown balls would sometimes rebound back onto the pindeck or gutter. I now have a heavy rubber curtain that pivots on a swivel and I have yet to have any rebounds since.

                    Good luck with your lane Jeff when you are able to start building it. Please keep us updated.

                    Anyone else get nervous that we can only get the pins from Linds and they seem to be creeping the price up more and more? I love the pins but I wish we could find another alternative. I'm pretty sure those pins are made for Linds by Winsome. Maybe if enough of us went together on a bunch of sets we could get them cheaper. If Linds stopped carrying them tomorrow what would we do?


                    • #11
                      Thanks for your comments Chad. I've been focusing mostly on the pit in my plans. I actually want to make a bit of an automatic ball return because one of my engineering students designed a lift using Fischertechnik pieces that carried a 3 pound weight up one meter, and that inspired a little thought on my part. I sent more details of this idea to Steve, but basically the part of the pit that allows pins under but not the ball would be angled so that the ball would roll to one side. There would be a hole there that lets the ball roll outside the lane. This lift would then push the ball up to the ball return track and back to the bowler. I'd obviously have to test it to see if the pins stay out of there after a rolled ball.

                      I'm imagining having about 20-25 feet to work with so right now i'm not defining the exact length. I'll wait until I move to decide that.

                      What you mentioned about the Linds pins is exactly why I bought them now. I noticed that they are no longer advertised on the Linds site so I said wow what if I move in 2 years and they are no longer sold? I'm hoping that won't be the case and I can purchase a 2nd set in the future. Of course, Steve has so many sets he could almost open up his own half scale bowling house! I got my set on Wednesday and they are really cool. I'm waiting to actually use them for the future though. They're in the box downstairs with the candlepin balls I got two weeks ago.

                      I do plan on takings lots of pictures and asking for a lot of help from you guys! I only hope that when i'm done it looks somewhat up to par with what you two have done.

                      Have a great weekend, and thanks again!


                      • #12
                        well I just looked, Linds still has the pins advertised, but it's under the pro shop products on their on-line catalogue. No price on there though! They did take that part down from their site. I did find them on another site called,, and the are like $101 there!!! Geez, for pins that are lucky to be 1/5 of the volume of wood of full size pins, shouldn't the price be 1/5 also? After all it's less than 1/2 the material to make the 1/2 scale pins....Hmmm, it would be cool to see if someone can make synthetic versions of these pins in the same exact dimensions and weight! They would last longer......but I do love the sound of the maple wood pins crashing into the pit!!
                        --- SteveJT66

                        82/70's,kickers,Kegel Kustodian


                        • #13
                          What is the exact size and weight of a mini pin? Is their weight to scale? A regulation pin is 3 pounds 6 oz to 3 pounds 10oz. My guess the price is high because the demand is low.


                          • #14
                            Here are some updated pictures of my lane since I moved it back down to the basement. It needs some TLC but it looks OK. I just started experimenting with using oil on the head section of the lane. It actually works pretty well!!


                            • #15
                              Wow your basement bar is very cool. Wish I had that much room in my basement.


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