Question. Are wooden bowls still used?
Answer. Wooden bowls which are made from the timber Lignum Vitae are still used and are very popular. It is now difficult to obtain good quality Lignum to make new bowls but Thurstons do still have a small stock of timber of which to make their Standfast crown Green Lignum Vitae bowls. Thurstons renovate many pairs of wooden bowls during the closed season and are recognised by many as the leaders in the field.
Question. Can I have my wooden bowls polished natural.
Answer. Yes, any wooden bowls can be polished natural. It should however be remembered that all Lignum Vitae (wooden) bowls have cracks and the clear, specially formulated lacquer applied shows up all the imperfections so if the Lignum is poor or contains sapwood it is sometimes more sensible to have the bowls polished Black.
Question. What size of bowls are available and which is most suited for my use?
Answer. Crown green bowls have always been sold by weight as the size designation. The popular weights being 2lb 6oz, 2lb 8oz, 2lb 10oz and 2lb 12oz. It seems that with the Lignum Vitae, (wooden) bowls the bowlers were more interested in the weight and it is was certainly true that in earlier years the heavier the bowl that one could handle was always considered to the best bowl for the job. Modern crown green bowls are made from a composite material which is so hard diamond tools have to used to turn the material. Thurstons stock a range of bowls from 2lb 4oz to 2lb 12oz in even weight steps, odd weights such as 2lb 9oz, 2lb 11oz, etc can be supplied to order. Also for children we have in stock 2lb and 2lb 2oz bowls.
Question. I have heard of Hi-density bowls, what are they ?
Answer. Material now used for bowls is a phenolic thermoset compositon. This can be produced to a specific density, unlike Lignum Vitae (wooden) bowls where the density depends on the actual original timber. Manufacturers using the composition material such as Drakes Pride and Taylors have extended their standard composition weight range of crown green bowls to include both hi-density and also low density models.
Question. Can you explain what advantages high density or standard or low density have compared to each other ?
Answer. This requires quite a long answer and must include a reference again to Lignum Vitae (wooden) bowls as well. It is said that a Lignum (wooden) bowl runs on a “yard” after it is stopped. What is being implied is that when comparing the run of a Lignum Vitae (wooden) bowl against the original, now called standard weight composition, it is true that for a given strength of delivery the composition bowl will stop about a yard shorter than the Lignum (wooden) bowl. The reason is simply that the standard weight composition bowl is slightly heavier for its size than the average Lignum (wooden) bowl.
What the manufacturers have done is to take a slightly higher specific gravity composition material and produce a bowl which is heavier for its size than a standard composition. For example a high density 2lb 8oz bowl is about the same size as a 2lb 6oz standard weight. High density bowls are useful on very fast greens which usually occur after a period of dry weather or especially after dry and hot days. The other advantage is that if a bowler suffers from a hand problem and they are having difficulty gripping the larger bowl, but still want to maintain the weight, then the hi-density allows them to come down a size but maintain the weight.
On the other hand a low-density composition bowl, made from slightly lighter material than the standard weight and is more similar to Lignum (wooden) bowls in its density is better suited to heavier greens, such as early season or rain effected or “heavy” greens. The reason being that as they are lighter they “ride” the surface more easily and therefore run further. A 2lb 8oz low-density bowl will be approximately the same size as a 2lb 10oz standard composition bowl. It is also useful for low-density bowls to be polished as this helps to feel more like a wooden bowl. Thurston’s stock the Excel model by Drakes Pride which is a low density, polished bowl. Also, made to order “Harlequin” coloured bowls 25 + colours available. At both the Liverpool and Birmingham Thurston stores there are examples of the different weights and densities of crown green bowls so you can try them in the hand for size and feel.
Question. What size bowl do I need ?
Answer. Bearing in mind the answer to the previous question. The simple answer is what feels comfortable in your hand. Remember that you have to be able to hold the bowl even in wet conditions. IF the bowl feels right, then it is probably the right size and if it doesn’t feel “right” then this will be in your mind when you are playing your shots. Question. Do I need a jack? Answer. If you are wanting to practice or just play socially, then the answer is definitely yes. But if you only play at the club with other club members then it is usual for the club to supply the jacks as they do for matches and then you would not need one. The crown green standard jacks are available from Thurston’s in both the traditional Black and the popular Yellow versions.
Question. What bias should I use ?
Answer. Some years ago you used to be able to tell what area a bowler came from by the bias they requested, but in more recent years the standard bias of 2 full has proved to be dominant. This is the same bias as the standard jacks which most clubs have. Other biases that are available to special order are 2 ¼ bias which is slightly stronger than the 2 full and also 2 ½ bias which is stronger than the 2 ¼.
Question. My friends bowls have no dimple, are they legal ?
Answer. Most crown green bowlers prefer to have the dimple in the bias side but some keen bowlers who do not want their opponent to see how they have delivered the bowl sometime opt to have no dimple and occasionally mark the bias side with just a black spot.
Question. My recently polished bowls are showing pin prick marks is the polish faulty?
Answer. Probably not, the usual reason for such marks, which tend to be seen at the start of the season, is the fertiliser and top dressing applied to the greens. Granular fertiliser and top dressing can break through the polish causing blemishes. In most cases top dressing contains 70% sand and this creates an abrasive surface early in the season. Chemical fertilisers can break down the adhesion of the polish on the bowls so it might start to come away.