So I've been thinking, it's becoming easier every month to get into the world of custom pins. We have competing companies making the brains (FAST, P Roc, Ben Heck's board, the Mission framework, etc). The programming is becoming more available, it's in theory really not hard to get a flipping whitewood together.
Maybe you're not going to be the next Spooky. But it sounds like a lot of fun to tinker with. I'd personally dig having a blank playfield canvas that flipped where I could try out my own ideas, figure out geometry, and just generally play around.
People ask about pinball kits all the time, I think there's a general interest in trying to play with building a pin.
If you were to pick up one of the above "brains" and wanted to tinker, what would be the bare minimum you'd need? Let's skip the cabinet for the moment, and just look at the playfield itself. You could use a donor cab, buy a flat pack kit, we can worry about that later.
So to start, a plywood playfield. Ideally CNC'd with the basics, like the shooter lane (tricky to DIY) and let's say all the holes and slots for a basic Italian Bottom game. Flippers, lanes, slings.
So you'd need to buy flipper mechs, bats, rubber. You'd need inlane guides. Slingshot mechs, switches, posts, and rubber. Outlane posts.
What else? Wood for the sides and back to keep the ball contained. Probably wood for the left half of the shooter lane. A metal guide of some kind at the top to direct the ball after plunging. That starts getting into specific game design though.
What else am I missing? Just to get something you can shoot. Then you can start putting your own personal ideas down. Build temp ramps and see how the angles work, etc. Drill your own holes to put in targets or 3D printed guides. You'll scrap it all and CNC a better one later after you figure it out I'm sure.