Bowling Alley table #2: Picture this

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Blog entry by jsol posted 08-14-2011 09:23 PM 4633 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: What to do, what to do ... Part 2 of Bowling Alley table series Part 3: PROGRESS ... well, sort of. »

PICTURE THIS … so, just moved the very heavy lane sections down to the basement where i will be attempting my wood working. i figured i would post some photos and drawings so that everyone can see what i’m working with. just looking at these pieces renews my enthusiasm, and surprisingly, squashes my anxiety.

(one of the lane sections)

(detail of the pin settings)

(underside of one lane sections. i think the cross braces were added prior to removal and transport of the lane sections)

(underside of the other section)

(edge detail)

(underside of the other section. the cross braces don’t seem to serve any real purpose to the overall structural integrity of the lane)

(i hope this is an indication that the boards will come apart very easily)

(some missing inlays …)

(a repair of some sort?)


(drawing of one of the lane sections)

there are 39 slats, roughly 1” wide, 47.75” long, and 2.375 thick. the section is 42.75” long. the pin setting inlays are 2.25” in diameter, and are spaced roughly 13.5” apart. the back most set of the inlays are about 1.75” from the back edge.

(drawing of the proposed desk)

so, this is what i’m thinking for the finished desk. roughly 59” long by 34” deep. i drew in a .5” piece of finish molding around the outside edge. i’m not sure if i like that though—something tells me to just leave the cut edge exposed. QUESTION: is it insane to think about ripping the boards down in half or two-thirds thickness? at 2.375” thick, this table will be VERY heavy. so, ideally, i’d like it to be 1.5” thick, or even 1.25”. that would give me more wood to work with, and lighten the load of the desk top. I’d really appreciate comments here …

as for support (under) structure and legs … haven’t gotten there yet. i’m thinking 3” square post legs, distressed black finish.


-- jsol

9 comments so far

View JRL's profile


104 posts in 2561 days

#1 posted 08-15-2011 12:38 AM

Can’t tell for sure. Is the surface maple laminate / veneer?
Looks like about 2 inches thick. But were these pieces all glued together? I see gaps in some that
seem to say they were depending on the cross braces for support.
Sorry so many Q’s.

-- Jay in Changsha

View MedicKen's profile


1615 posts in 3485 days

#2 posted 08-15-2011 01:24 AM

There will be nails, lots of nails. Have fun….

-- My job is to give my kids things to discuss with their

View chrisstef's profile


17423 posts in 3029 days

#3 posted 08-15-2011 03:02 AM

Sawzall with McRipper blades, you can buy them in bulk without paying $5 a piece for em, grainger should have em.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View jsol's profile


23 posts in 2505 days

#4 posted 08-15-2011 03:08 AM

JRL: not sure what type of wood this is. i was hoping some of the experts here could help me. :) i thought it was maple, other folks have said this end is southern yellow pine. i’ve actually contacted a couple manufacturers, so i’ll let you know what i find out.

they are a little more than 2” thick, and don’t appear to be glued … but i’ll find out soon enough.

MEDICKEN: yeah, i’m expecting loads of nails. bring it on!

CHRISSTEF: i don’t know squat about woodworking, so, would you kindly elaborate on your statement? ... really appreciate the guidance and feedback.

-- jsol

View JL7's profile


8667 posts in 2988 days

#5 posted 08-15-2011 03:15 AM

jsol – I think I incorrectly stated it was pine in your previous post – doing a bit more research – they do use the hard maple for the pinsetter area. Typically – a bowling lane is hard maple for the first 12-15 feet and then pine for the mid-section and hard maple again for the pinsetter. Sorry for the confusion!

If you are commited to learning the tricks of this process – I wouldn’t be afraid of the prying the boards apart – once you get the technique down, it works good. You will occasionally split a board – especially where the deep holes are dilled or if there is a random flaw in the wood.

My experience is the maple is extremely clear (free of defects) and is really tough, so I say go for it!

Good luck.


-- Jeff .... Minnesota, USA

View chrisstef's profile


17423 posts in 3029 days

#6 posted 08-15-2011 08:27 PM

jsol, you are definately going to encounter a ton of nails in the bowling alley peices which gaurenteed will destroy at least one of your blades. I would use a sawzall to rough cut it, the mcripper blades are what we use for demolition, they are much cheaper that others you can buy at a box store (like the “ax” blades at $4.45 a piece). They are comparable in performance to the “ax”.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View PurpLev's profile


8536 posts in 3671 days

#7 posted 08-15-2011 08:35 PM

Once you pry the boards apart and can mill them cleanly, it would be a good idea for you to rip all the boards in half to give you a final thickness of 1”-1.25” for the desk top as having it any thicker will provide you with no benefit but will add a lot of weight to the desk. this will also double the amount of material you’ll have to work with.

good luck

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Bertha's profile


13529 posts in 2716 days

#8 posted 08-15-2011 08:42 PM

I’d definitely run a metal detector over anything you are planning to put through your planer. Even renting a detector will be cheaper than planer blades. Good luck!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View jsol's profile


23 posts in 2505 days

#9 posted 08-17-2011 03:20 PM

thanks for the comments everyone. i’ve hit a snag, in the form of a 1/2” bolt that runs the width of the lane. it’s at the very end where the last pin settings are. tried Bolt-Off, that didn’t touch it. neither did my hack saw. enter the die-grinder, which i am borrowing today. then progress can resume.

first day, 4 boards removed, two of them cracked. this, i think was due more to my inexperience and impatience. so, i’ve settled down, and being more thoughtful, i’ve slowed my work down and have resumed lifting boards without cracking them. it’s not easy, and yes, there are a TON of nails, but i like seeing progress.

i’ll do another blog entry with more pictures as i make a bit more progress.


-- jsol

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