Yes. Finally some light at the end of the tunnel, reverse thinking, and this project seems a bit more doable, and even not much trouble at all.
Originally I tried to get the (2.5” hardened) nails out by using a cat’s paw and a hammer to pull each nail out of the 2.5 laminated hard-rock maple strips. I figured once I get all the nails out of the top strip, it’ll just free it from the lamination, and be nails free… one strip at a time, until I have them all cleared out. I guess I was wrong. as you can see in this illustration – each nail is driven through 2.5 strips, and as such, it has a lot of surface contact between the nail and the wood creating the most friction and resistance this nail could have:
After a full day of hard labor, aching muscles, and some major bruises on the back of my right hand from missing some hammer blows. I had nothing much to show for it, as most of the nails either got broken off, or didn’t even budge to my miserable attempts.
Now that I have the base put together (dry fit) and the rough floor slab on top of it, I tried a different approach. What I did this time was pry each strip apart from the “main” slab by hammering a large all metal (body) screwdriver between the last strip and the rest of the slab to create a gap – placing a wooden wedge , and moving on – ending up separating the entire strip from the main slab just enough that I can fit the cat’s paw L shape end into it, and pry it even more apart until I can slip also the nail-pulling side of the hammer in there as well, and using both tools, pry the strip completely apart from the main slab each strip still with the nails in it – but none of them broken – this results in 2 things, both positive:
1. This is a very easy method to separate the strips apart (compared to the previous attempts at least). it proved to be somewhat fast, and methodical.
2. Now that the nails are only driven through 1 laminated strip (compared to 2.5) there is much less surface contact between nail and wood, and less friction and resistance once it come to pulling the nail out. What more -the tip of the nail is now accessible, and can be hammered out whereas before I had to DIG under the head of the nail and by doing that also messed up the maple strips.
So after only a couple of hours I was able to release all of the strips that will contribute to the dog hole strip and to the buffer between the dog holes and the skirt. I also started cleaning and flattening the area under the top where it’ll rest on the legs (so far only did the right side):
as you can see, the underside of the top is covered with tar looking layer (I guess it was used in the bowling alley to protect against moisture or leaks through the floors). I used a scraper to clean as much of it as I could before moving to the planer. as you can see, there is a price to pay as it completely marred my #5 planer – this is one of those times that I’m really glad I don’t have a $300 plane… as this would really have pissed me off:
luckily, cleaning the scraper is easy enough, and restoring the buck-bros plane would not take much time and effort. a much easier process than restoring a router bit – and the reason why I did not (yet) use my router to clean and flatten this area.
So now I have the main slab according to my plan, and the strips of maple for the dog hole strip and buffer strip – things are starting to look better and better, and this was much easier than I had experienced earlier and then I expected things to be. In fact – I’m tempted to take all the strips apart, and completely remove all nails out of the entire top – but since there really is no need for this – I’m going to hold off on this desire. I got better things to do, and really want to see this workbench finished ASAP.
Moral of this installment – to take apart a bowling alley, and remove the nail – pry the strips apart prior to taking the nail out… make a whole different experience. from “heck no way” to “gimme some more please”. now I actually believe I can utilize the other 2 slabs of bowling alley I have for other projects. :o)
and on a side note -I just received today the hardware for the vises from Lee-Valley. always good products. always good prices, always good service:
-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.