Results 1 to 12 of 12

Thread: bowling alley floor for bench top

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Amherst, NH
    Posts
    219

    bowling alley floor for bench top

    A fellow is selling bowling alley floor for $20 a linear foot. The floor runs 42" wide. Maple.

    I know I read someone's post that he had used old bowling alley floor for a bench top. Anybody with experience/opinions on that? Seems like it would save a lot of work gluing up and flattening.

    How thick would it probably be?

    Would it be only glued, or would there be metal in it?

    How hard would it be to get off the floor? (Would I be able to get off the floor after I got it off?)

    Thanks,

    Nelson

  2. #2

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Amherst, NH
    Posts
    219
    Doggone it. When will I learn how to use that search function?

    Nelson

  4. #4

    bowling alley

    I have a bowling alley top that is actually a countertop.

    It is great looking but finishing was a pain.

    -Crosscutting- you will encounter tons of nails and it is a tough cut anyway as they tend to be 2 3/4 inches or so. Turn your sawstop override on, prepare for sparks, etc.

    -they are typically sold with lateral wood supports to keep the strips together. Don't take these off until you have established an alternative structure (banding or other) to keep the boards together or they will seperate. I got a guy to drill a 42" hole straight through the countertop (e.g., 1 inch below the countertop) and then put bolts in, but I certainly wasn't going to be able to do that myself with my puny tools.

    -finishing with a floor sander is the easiest way, unless you love planing and stuff. While I didn't do this, if you drive it to a floor sanding company and ask them to run their machine over it for 10 minutes, it might cost you $50 instead of potentially more, and tons of dust. They finished it down to like 1000 grit and then I had a marine type self-leveling finish on top that I buffed down to a matte surface.

    -I would have said $20 / lf is a bit high, but I bought mine in rural New Hampshire. Good luck!

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Nelson Howe View Post
    Doggone it. When will I learn how to use that search function?

    Nelson
    Nelson, I don't use the search function of SMC - too finicky. I do a quick Google advanced search and limit it to sawmillcreek.org

    Lot more user friendly.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Rochester, NY
    Posts
    287
    I built a bench using two sections of bowling alley that were six feet long by about 42 inches wide. Fortunately for me, the only nails were on the edges and were easily found and removed. My pieces were all hard maple and the problem that I had was that all of the upper faces (where the balls would land) were quarter sawn. There were also quite a few cracks between and in the boards. All of the boards were finger jointed together and this along with the quarter sawn wood made planing the surface almost impossible. My solution was to cut them into 2.5 or 4 inch sections, rotate them 90 degrees, and then glue them back together. This was a lot of work but worked very well.

    Now all my quarter sawn faces are on the front and back and the top is all flat sawn wood. It planes much more easily and I don't expect an major problems in keeping it smooth and flat.

    All I have to finish now is the tail vice and I hope get it done in the next month or so.

    I hope this helps.

    Cheers,

    Dave

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Amherst, NH
    Posts
    219
    So your boards were glued, rather nailed together? I wonder how you'd determine that before buying? I'd hate to deal with all the nails.

    Do you think a router sled to flatten the top would have been possible alternative to reorienting the boards?

    And, in regards to Tim's post, this stuff is coming out of Twin Mt. It doesn't get a whole lot more rural NH than that. Perhaps his price is high. Do you suppose there is difference between candlepin alleys and the ones for the big balls?

    Nelson

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Rochester, NY
    Posts
    287
    I think that I was told there weren't any nails but it was a couple of years ago so I'm not sure. I would bring a metal detector or one of those strong refrigerator magnets to help find the nails before purchase. Once I removed the nails from the edge there was nothing metallic anywhere in this wood.

    The router sled would work the first time but they are a lot of work both in terms of set up and flattening. Reflattening at a later time would be even harder.

    I paid $10 a foot and the the guy I bought them from paid something like $4 a foot (at the bowling alley). I estimate that my cost was about $1.25 a board foot and after the scrap and waste it was even more. I jumped at buying them in the hopes that I could just cut it up and use it directly. It didn't work out that way but at least I got the wood that I needed for my bench.

    It is my understanding that the front part of a bowling alley is usually hard maple and will extend down quite a ways so any ball that lands on it will hit on the maple. Apparently the back end is often a lower quality wood like pine or spruce since it won't have the same amount of wear. A friend of mine had some 12 foot sections from the back of an alley and two guys could move it. A similar section of maple would have taken at least four guys. Even my 6 foot sections were a bear to move around.

    Cheers,
    Dave

  9. #9
    Wellll, I don't know. I have made several cutting boards from bowling alley floors. They turned out really nice and I gave them all away. With that said, it was not an easy job. The big chunks are really heavy, and have all kinds of grooves cut into them for some reason. Some have other wood glued to the bottoms, and they all had hidden nails. Most of the floors are too thick to use a circular saw (or make two cuts), therefore you will have to cut them on a 10 inch saw. I bought a cheap blade and had at it. Be careful, if you hit a nail just right, it becomes a missle and a carbide tooth can do the same thing. The floors are in sections, and many are cut on an angle. You may not have enough length for a bench, after you trim them. It can be done, but I would probably laminate some clean maple myself.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Los Angeles, Calif.
    Posts
    2,007
    Don't bother. I went and checked out some slabs from a local bowling alley a few weeks ago and passed on them, even though they were free.

    The boards are not glued together, but nailed through each board and into the next. I think they were long spiral cut nails, which would not have been fun to pull out. By the time you get all the nails out (probably hundreds), the individual boards will probably look like hell. A whole lotta work to save a little money on rock maple.

    Jason

    Quote Originally Posted by Nelson Howe View Post
    A fellow is selling bowling alley floor for $20 a linear foot. The floor runs 42" wide. Maple.

    I know I read someone's post that he had used old bowling alley floor for a bench top. Anybody with experience/opinions on that? Seems like it would save a lot of work gluing up and flattening.

    How thick would it probably be?

    Would it be only glued, or would there be metal in it?

    How hard would it be to get off the floor? (Would I be able to get off the floor after I got it off?)

    Thanks,

    Nelson
    Last edited by Jason White; 06-16-2009 at 4:39 PM.

  11. #11
    I paid $10/linear ft for mine. I wouldn't pay $20. Mine was a bit over 2.5" thick, hard maple, nailed with 3" spiral nails, and coated in some sort of hard tarry substance on the bottom side. It was NOT glued. Lengths were random, most boards weren't long enough to span the full length of the benchtop so I ended up with a bunch of butt joints in my top.

    I pried apart the laminations, lost about half the material due to splits around the nail holes, then milled off the shallow tongue/groove and glued it all up. Took a fair bit of time.

    If you can afford it, it's a LOT easier to start with larger stock that runs the full length of the benchtop.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Amherst, NH
    Posts
    219
    Thanks everybody. I'm glad I asked. What sounded like a good simple solution now sounds like a lot more work than I need to get involved in right now. Think I'll pass.

    Nelson

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •