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Forum topic by JoeNJ posted 12-05-2016 04:38 AM 1106 views 0 times favorited 29 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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JoeNJ

36 posts in 1115 days


12-05-2016 04:38 AM

Hello jocks,

Sort of an odd question…I know there are a few who made stuff from repurposed bowling lanes and was curious if anyone knows the spacing and size of the actual arrows in the lanes? My internet searches have not been successful. The stock I’m picking up soon only has dots but does not have any of the arrow inlay and I’d like to add it to some future projects. I have learned that this stuff can be a bear to work with but I just couldn’t pass it up. – thanks, Joe


29 replies so far

View ArtMann's profile

ArtMann

688 posts in 655 days


#1 posted 12-06-2016 06:16 PM

I helped a friend make a bench top out of a section of bowling alley. There are two things I know of that make this stuff hard to deal with. First of all, it is extremely heavy. The second thing is that bowling alleys are not glue-ups. The individual planks are nailed together with hardened steel nails in a tight grid. This makes it very difficult to size the slab with a circular saw. You just have t assume that you are going to destroy some carbide blades in the process. I’m not sure but I don’t think the markings are inlaid. I think they are painted on and then varnished over. You can do that yourself if you want to retain the bowling alley appearance. I doubt if it will be noticeable if you get the markings a little bit off.

We had the surfaces thickness sanded on a giant wide belt sander at a custom millwork shop. I don’t remember how big the motor was on this beast but it handles a full width, 8 foot length section with ease. The independent variable speed conveyor motor was 5 hp. It was quite a sight to see. The guy used a fork lift to run it through several times. I think my friend paid $50 to get it smoothed to something like 80 grit.

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JoeNJ

36 posts in 1115 days


#2 posted 12-06-2016 07:05 PM

ArtMann, thanks for the response. Yeah, I learned the boards are nailed with spiral nails so the alley is allowed to flex when in use. Since I plan on using a section of this for a workbench, removing the nails is pretty much mandatory. I don’t mind the work involved in the nail removal process because the end result, from what I’ve seen, is outstanding. I have confirmed that the markings are actually inlaid…about a half inch…from what I saw. The pieces I have don’t have the arrows (I do have some dots which is cool) so I was hoping to get those arrow dimensions and spacing so I could replicate that as design element. I could just wing it but thought I’d give this forum a shot. -Joe

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DirtyMike

637 posts in 740 days


#3 posted 12-06-2016 07:37 PM

Sounds like your getting some of the maple ends huh? I found a website that had all the info on bowing alley lanes, and the arrow spacing was on there. sorry no link. the stuff is very pricey around me and makes a heck of a table. cheers

View MrFid's profile

MrFid

862 posts in 1743 days


#4 posted 12-06-2016 07:47 PM

I think this image shows the layout for the arrows. I got it from here:

http://www.courtdimensions.net/bowling-lane/index.php

which has some good explanations of where the arrows are to be laid out. Good luck with your projects!

-- Bailey F - Eastern Mass.

View Ted78's profile

Ted78

324 posts in 1838 days


#5 posted 12-06-2016 08:16 PM

I have a section I use as a workbench top. I don’t think removing the nails is terribly feasible, or particularly necessary. The nails are placed about in the middle of the thickness, so you are not going to hit one with a chisel or anything. The pin end I know also has a steel rod through it with bolts on the ends, I think it is some kind of adjustment to keep the lanes level or planar or maybe both, so it it something to keep in mind if you are cutting it up. I manages to rip a piece in half for some tops to saw benches on a 9” table saw with a 3/4 HP motor and a cheap HF carbide blade. It is hard and heavy, the ends are made of hard maple, but it’s not all that hard to work with for what it is.

-- Ted

View Cooler's profile

Cooler

299 posts in 682 days


#6 posted 12-06-2016 09:01 PM

I worked in a nightclub in the 1970s as a bouncer. It’s earlier life was as a bowling alley. The club’s owners ripped out the alleys and made 40 foot long tables for the customer’s to sit at. All they ever did was buy metal legs. No finish was applied, no sanding no nothing.

It seemed like a satisfactory table for this application.

You can see the tables here: https://media2.wnyc.org/i/0/350/c/99/photologue/photos/MFP%20Waitress.jpg

-- This post is a hand-crafted natural product. Slight variations in spelling and grammar should not be viewed as flaws or defects, but rather as an integral characteristic of the creative process.

View JoeNJ's profile

JoeNJ

36 posts in 1115 days


#7 posted 12-06-2016 09:24 PM

@ Ted78, I thought about leaving it in place but the material will flex if it’s not glued up and I’m not a big fan of that look. I have seen a bench where it was not glued and I was not convinced that was they way to go, at least for me. I’m getting 2, 16 foot sections so I plan to make other projects that will most likely require glue ups.

@ MrFid, I saw that exact posting also and was hoping it had more arrow detail, but it did not. Specifically, I’m looking for the actual size of the arrows. I know which boards they go on so I need to narrow down the size. I can wing it but, I’m trying to be as true as I can.

@ DirtyMike, The pieces I’m getting appear to be the maple ends as they have the inlay dot markings. The area approaching the pins is usually heart pine. The lumber change is very visable when you see it up close…almost woven in like a large box joint or finger joint. I’m paying $400 for 32 feet at about 40+ inches wide 2.5” thick. For all that maple, I thought that was a great price. The pricing increases with markings, especially the arrows and where the pins are set. That’s what prompted my interest in the arrow detail so I can replicate it in future projects.

View JoeNJ's profile

JoeNJ

36 posts in 1115 days


#8 posted 12-06-2016 09:26 PM

Cooler, thanks for that post. Those tables look really cool and gave me some ideas. Thanks.

View DirtyMike's profile

DirtyMike

637 posts in 740 days


#9 posted 12-06-2016 09:51 PM

That is a heck of a deal, good luck.

View Ted78's profile

Ted78

324 posts in 1838 days


#10 posted 12-06-2016 10:07 PM

Ahh, that makes sense. my bench is pretty short so flexing isn’t much of an issue, but I think you’re right I bet the lanes were actually designed to flex so they could adjust them to keep them flat as weather and humidity and such changed. Also probably why Bowling alleys went to synthetic lanes I would guess.

-- Ted

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4807 posts in 3799 days


#11 posted 12-07-2016 03:24 PM

I did not remove the nails from my bench. Just attached some “T” shaped iron to the bottom with heavy wood screws, drilled my dog holes, attached the vices, attached maple aprons with glue and screws, and went to work on the legs, etc.
Made one heck of a bench, and I use it every day.
I’ve never had a flexing problem. The hold fasts work very well in the full thickness of the lane section.
Bill

-- bill@magraphics.us

View ArtMann's profile

ArtMann

688 posts in 655 days


#12 posted 12-07-2016 07:10 PM

The section of bowling alley I worked with was quite stiff. I think it very doubtful you would find it flexes if properly supported. If I were you, I would not plan on removing the nails and re-gluing the slab until you have actually tried it on a small scale. I have and I will never do it again. It is possible to drill holes all the way through cross grain and tighten it up with threaded rods or very long bolts.

Good luck!

View TheGreatJon's profile

TheGreatJon

337 posts in 1072 days


#13 posted 12-07-2016 08:00 PM

You may possibly have the determination of… some mythic being with a lot of determination. But I think that you might quickly give up on the project if you try to take out all of the nails. I’ve never worked with bowling alley slabs, but I got a ton of old barn wood once and getting out the nails presented two problems:
1. It was horrible, tedious, muscle-cramping work.
2. It scarred and splintered the wood. Some nails came out easy. A lot of them did not. – to be fair, I did clean up enough of the beams to complete my project, but I’m also stubborn enough to get through two engineering degrees without a whole lot of natural intelligence…

I would echo what was said above. I don’t think you will notice any appreciable flex over the 6-8ft span of the normal bench. If you are concerned about it, reinforce it with a I-framed support structure between the legs.

-- This is not the signature line you are looking for.

View JoeNJ's profile

JoeNJ

36 posts in 1115 days


#14 posted 12-07-2016 08:06 PM

@ArtMann, Thanks. After some of the feedback, it seems I’ll need more patience than luck but I’m ready for the challenge. Hopefully, I’ll have a completed project to post … at some point.

View Cooler's profile

Cooler

299 posts in 682 days


#15 posted 12-07-2016 08:35 PM

I am recalling my time at “My Father’s Place” (the night club). We had to move those tables for some of the performances and they were very, very heavy.

There is quite a bit on the Internet on re-purposing bowling alleys.

https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=how%20much%20does%20a%20bowling%20alley%20weigh

-- This post is a hand-crafted natural product. Slight variations in spelling and grammar should not be viewed as flaws or defects, but rather as an integral characteristic of the creative process.

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