POLISHING AND SANDING OF BOWLING BALLS
Nowadays, in bowling sport, and for an advanced intermediate level of play, we can say that the decisive factor when playing is the finish of the surface of our bowling balls.
Modern balls allow varying the surface finish (coverstock), at our convenience. That is to say, we can sand and polish our ball according to the type of track in which we have to play, choosing the moment in which the ball will change (the moment in which it stops advancing by the track and begins to take curve), the intensity and the type of hook.
As an initial premise, let’s briefly describe the three basic finishes that we normally find in the balls we buy.
As a measure of the finish of these surfaces, we will always refer to a measure generally used by most manufacturers, which is the measure of the grain of sandpaper used for this purpose. This is expressed in a measure called grit, which varies from 100 grit to 2000 grit, with 100 being the coarsest grit measure. as we increase the number of grits the grain is finer.
The three types of finish are:
Matte finish, are considered matte balls ranging from a finish of 200 to 700 grit
Polished finish, considered polished balls from 800 to 1100 grit
Pearlescent finish, pearlescent balls from 1200 to 2000 grit are considered.
How can we tell with the naked eye what the finish of a ball is?
The most logical thing would be to look at the characteristics that the manufacturer gives us in the manual that accompanies each ball, but if we do not have it, at first sight, and as an approximate method, we can say that the “matte” balls are those whose surface does not shine at all (there is no light reflection); the “polished” balls would be those that have some brightness, and the “pearled” balls are those that have more brightness (maximum light reflection).
This amount of polishing drastically affects the behavior of the ball; as a fairly simple and easy to understand scheme, we could assign each type of finish an ideal track type, and an ideal throw type. The result would be:
MATTE FINISH: ideal for high volume and long (over 40 feet) oil tracks. Suitable for players with high speed in their shot.
POLISHED FINISHING: suitable for medium oil volume and medium-length (36 to 39 feet) courts. Suitable for players with a medium-high speed.
PERLADO FINISH: ideal for low volume and short (less than 35 feet) oil tracks, and for low-speed players (women and young players).
This scheme, as we have said, is simply a theoretical basis, as there are more factors that influence fundamentally as the type of coverstock resin (particles, etc.), radius of rotation of the core, the amount and type of revolutions of each player, etc., but these are already particularities that the perforator should know and recommend.
Once understood these basic concepts, we can focus on the initial objective of this article, to highlight how you can vary the final finish of a ball.
What is sanding or polishing a bowling ball?
In reality, although they have different names, the process of sanding or polishing is the same. It consists of the application of sandpaper on the ball (dampened this one) up to the level of finish that we determine, using specialized liquids that give the ball the characteristic brightness that surely many know.
The process is carried out gradually. That is to say, if we have a 1000 finish ball and we want to leave it with a 400 finish, the process to follow will be to pass first the 800 sandpaper, then the 600 sandpaper and finally the 400 sandpaper. Not everything is done at once, because the result would not be satisfactory. It is a slow and meticulous process that requires wetting the ball and applying sandpaper (first) and a rag (later) for a long time.
The system is exactly the same if we want to go from the finish of 400 to the finish of 1000, going through 600 and 800 before finishing.
Next Steps and Where to Purchase Equipment
When you’re ready to make the leap, you can read these articles to learn what bowling equipment we recommend for every different kind of player and choose what suits you better. We try to review the best bowling equipment in the market every few weeks to keep up-to-date with the current trends.