Steve's Wooden Skittle Pins and Balls!

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Lignum Vitae


Lignum Vitae will no longer be used for making skittle balls.

Lignum vitae (both species) has be used for skittle balls for decades and probably a few centuries but now it is not being imported in the volumes it used to be as demand has dwindled and the species is also being exhausted by demand. Other uses for it have been replaced by synthetic materials and the game of skittles is one of the last ares still using it. because of this low demand it is no longer viable for the timber merchants to import it.

Genuine lignum (Guaiacum officinale) stopped being used in the later half of the 20th century and since then Argentine lignum (Bulnesia sarmientoi) has been used as it's replacement but this too has now been used far too much and is far too expensive to get and frequently the available timber is of poor quality and not suitable for turning skittle balls from. For this reason we will be switching to a timber called Angelim vermelho. you can see how the three timbers measure up against each other on this comparison chart.

Species Angelim Vermelho Argentine Lignum Genuine Lignum
Botanical Name Dinizia Excelsa Bulnesia Sarmientoi Guaiacum Officinale
Weight lbft3 70-72 74 79
Janka Hardness lbf 3374 3710 4390
Modules Of Rupture lbf/in2 22550 25730 18450
Modules of Elasticity lbf/in2 2811000 2272000 2043000
Crushing Strength lbf/in2 12450 10830 12200
Shrinkage Ratio 1.6 1.3 1.6
Tree Diameter 3-4' 1-1 1/2' 1-1 1/2'
Grain Interlocked Straight to Spiraled or Slightly Interlocked Interlocked
Oils or Resin Present Yes Yes Yes
Texture Average to Course Fine Fine
Durability Very Durable Very Durable Very Durable
Availability No Commercial Restriction Heavily Restricted Heavily Restricted
Machinability Difficult Due To High Density Difficult Due To High Density Difficult Due To High Density
Finishing Good Excellent Excellent

This heavy construction timber is more freely available as a resource and should be of a consistent quality to turn good quality sets of balls from for many years to come. Another advantage is that it is available in larger sizes so up to 6" diameter balls can be made. Both lignum species are small trees only getting to a 12" diameter for the Guaiacum species or 18" diameter for the Bulnesia species at maturity which can be 300 years growth.

For further information, or a general enquiry regarding Skittle Balls and Skittle Pins please contact us by telephone, or email .


No material (the Angelim Vermelho) is currently available for turning Skittle Balls. I don't anticipate further sets in any size being available until 2022 at the earliest. I will try to buy in material and dry it however this takes years to achieve.

Thank You