How to Make a Table Skittles Bowling Game

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Table skittles has been popular in European pubs for centuries. A miniature derivative of traditional bowling, a skittles game involves 9 pins (also known as “skittles”) and either a small wooden ball or top. Once a prolific full-sized game, the table version is much more convenient and affordable for pubs and other public establishments, and can also be found in many English homes. Make a table skittles bowling game of your very own in a single weekend with some basic woodworking items.

Things You'll Need

  • 4 by 4 sheet of ½-inch plywood
  • Pencil
  • Power saw or butt joints
  • Plastic laminate
  • Sander
  • Enamel
  • 1/2-inch dowel
  • Hardwood disk
  • Black thread

Cut a piece of plywood to measure 19 ½ by 48 inches. This will serve as the base/floor of the skittles game. Place this on a hard, workable surface. Next, cut out two end pieces measuring 4 ½ by 17 ½ inches. Cut two longer pieces measuring 4 ½ by 48 inches, and and two small inner squares measuring 4 ½ by 5 inches.

Construct a box using the end pieces and two longer pieces, creating a rectangular shape. Secure to the base of the board and the constructed sides. Lay it vertically and attach it with nails or wood glue. Take the two small inner squares and secure them on the inside of both long pieces. Measure one long side to identify the exact center, and place them against each inside long piece, in this exact center. This should form a sort of corridor in the middle of the box frame.

Cut out four squares 7 ½ by 4 ½ inches, and then carve an arch out of each one so they form archways when placed into the box. The top or ball will move through these archways. Make two larger archways measuring 17 ½ by 4 ½ inches. In one, cut out three arches to form the look of three separate panels. With the other, cut out an arch on each end, creating two cut panels with a solid center.

Place the larger archways a quarter of the way down from each short wall, creating archways on either side of your previously constructed corridor. Sand away any rough edges and secure any loose pieces with nails or wood glue. Coat the entire box with a couple of layers of enamel. The smoother the floor finish, the easier the top will spin.

Purchase a skittles top, or make your own out of wood in any fashion you please. One way to make a top is to drive a 1/4-inch dowel into a hardwood disk. You can also use a small wooden ball. Cut an entry space into the short wall on the side closes to the three-opening archway, making it the same shape and slightly larger than whatever top or ball measurement you have.

Wrap strong black thread around the step of your top (around 12 inches worth) and pull to release the top. Create the skittles by shaping a wooden dowel into whatever contour you desire. Place on a table top and play, competing to see who can knock out the most skittles.

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