Project: The Bowling Ball Bag

Way back in 2000, my buddy’s office bowling team was a guy short, so they invited me to join them. Seemed like a decent way to get out of the house at least one night a week, so why not? We had some yucks and I came out the other end of it with my own bowling ball.

Mr. Sniffy is interested in the backpack

Mr. Sniffy is interested in the backpack

It spends most of it’s life in the closet now, contained in a ratty old backpack because I’ve always been too cheap to buy a proper carry bag for it. after making that lovely purse for the wife, however, I started getting… ideas.

Some browsing across the Internet and my copy of Al Stohlman’s books on leather cases gave me a couple of options, but I prefer the vintage Tandy pattern #4429 available from the Leathercraft Library site. (Looking at it today there is a second pattern available, so you have options now.)

Vintage Bowling Bag Pattern

This was originally sold as a kit with all the parts needed to make the bag, but they haven’t sold it that way for years. This is just a digitized copy of the tracing pattern and parts, and the zipper, rivets, D-rings and such are easy enough to find at your local shop or online.

What isn’t available anywhere else, however, is the plastic cup that was attached to the bottom of the bag to hold the ball and prevent it from wobbling about. For that, I needed to step out to the wood shop and cobble something together. What I came up with is pretty simple: I took a 6″x 6″ x1″ board and used a jigsaw to cut a hole in the middle. I rounded over the edges of the hole with a rasp, sanded things down smooth, and drilled holes for my “feet”. Just to make sure I don’t scratch the ball, I glued some old leather scraps to the inside of the ring.

The Ring  This is how you ring

In the original kit the bag feet came up through the bottom and held the ball cup plate in place. Being me, I went for a slightly more industrial look and grabbed a handful of big ol’ bolts with acorn nuts.

Check out them nuts!

Check out them nuts!

(Living a block away from a hardware store makes some decisions too easy.)

I’ve never been much for floral carving, so I certainly wasn’t going to use the picture that came with the pattern on this project and instead enlisted the assistance of my much more artistically talented daughter to come up with a suitably Hot-Rod 50’s-style design. Something with flair! And flames! And, dare I ask for it… a skull!

Get your own daughter to draw your art!

Meet Frank. (Carmine was busy…)

Okay, now that we’ve got all the planning out of the way, on to actual production!

Parts layout and results

01-Cuts laid out 02-Most of the parts

Time to get to know Frank a little better

03-Side 1 carved  04-Side 1 beveled

…and of course, a fine pair of twins here


Here’s a look at the stamping on the bottom and sides

07-Bottom(1) and sides

Somehow I completely missed that there is a cut in the bottom piece there, and it wasn’t until I was sanding the edges that I found it – and it goes all the way through, so I cut a new piece to replace it. The second piece just has my maker’s mark and no other stamping as you’ll see in future pictures.

Like this one, where I’ve oiled everything up and now letting it settle for a day before I apply the first coat of dye.

All oiled up and nowhere to go...

That’s a good place to finish part 1, I think…

To be continued…

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