Tony Vella and Sam Easley saw the potential of a rundown bowling alley on a state highway in Tennessee that was no longer in business. With the lanes, comprised of maple, pine and walnut, still untouched, the two men had stumbled upon the perfect starting place for manufacturing nostalgic furniture.
Bowling dates back to early Egypt and is a sport still frequently enjoyed today. However, modern bowling alleys tend to favor synthetic flooring rather than natural floors. The wood in the bowling alley lanes was many years old and of a quality manufacturers just don’t produce anymore. Vella and Easley couldn’t stand to see the historically-rich wood not be turned into something useful, and by saving it, the men were keeping perfectly good lumber from cluttering a landfill. The men struck a deal with the lot owner, who approved of the endeavor to save the timeless materials. The wood was of such high quality that it weighed over 10 pounds per square foot and needed to be cut into pieces just to move it.
Vella and Easley turned the forgotten wood into beautiful furniture, giving the natural gold a second chance for life. There are others out there like Vella and Easley who can see the value of old floors like those found in the abandoned bowling alley.
Many woods can be used for bowling alley lanes, and oftentimes a combination of high quality woods is used to construct the lanes. Thick maple boards, glued and nailed together, are used for the first 12 feet of lanes due to the wood’s ability to endure the extensive re-finishing jobs needed to keep the lanes looking tip-top and to resist the impact of bowling balls.
Pine, a harder type of softwood, is often used for the 46 feet after the 12 feet of maple. This fairly strong wood, though not as strong as maple, is ideal for lanes due to its resistance to deterioration and shrinking. Since it’s softer than hardwoods, it’s easier to cut and assemble, making it an efficient wood for building the lanes found in tens of millions of establishments in America.
Another wood often used for bowling lanes is cherry. This hardwood’s fine grain and beautiful red tones that darken with age and sunlight exposure make it visually appealing. Although it is often considered a luxury wood, cherry is strong and resistant to warping and easy to carve and polish. These characteristics make it a preferable choice for building heavily-abused bowling alley lanes.
With all the bowling alleys in the world, it’s no surprise that businesses go under and buildings are left abandoned every day. America’s largest bowling alley, Castaways in Las Vegas with 106 lanes, filed bankruptcy and was demolished. The world’s largest bowling alley, Tokyo World Lanes Bowling Center with a whopping 512 lanes, no longer exists. With all the downsizing and demolition, there’s an incredible amount of recyclable wood going to waste. Wood can be reused for years and years as long as good moisture content management is used. Wagner Meters produces moisture meters which allow you to monitor the moisture content in these timeless woods, allowing generations to come to enjoy these natural beauties. Thanks Wagner Meters. I love my job!