Bowling Lane Workbench

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Project by John posted 07-22-2014 11:04 PM 5446 views 1 time favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is my workbench I built out of a reclaimed bowling lane. I came across the lane for the best price: Free. As many have come to learn, these large slabs of laminated maple are riddled with hardened spiral shank nails. I first cut the lane to a length of about seven feet, then I cut along a lamination to a width of 30 inches. The top stayed this way for some time while I tried to figure how to drill dog holes without hitting any nails. I finally decided to split the top and add full length strips of pre-drilled maple. This took some time and several circular saw blades. I then flattened the top by hand, and finished it with BLO.

The base is inspired by the John White’s New Fangled Workbench. I originally tried to save a few bucks and had a pipe clamp vise. I found it to be more trouble than it was worth, so I upgraded to a Lee Valley front vise. The tail vise is a Jorgenson woodworking vise, and is adequate to my purpose. I plan to build a drawer cabinet for the backside, to add rigidity and mass, but I am waiting until I acquire materials for cheap. The base is finished with a combination of BLO, Danish Oil, Arm R Seal, Poly, and whatever is left over from a project.

This is my first woodworking workbench. As much as I would love a roubo, this bench was built on the cheap, and it serves me well. I now understand all the discussion on workbenches. I am still getting used to my workpeices not sliding all over the place! :) I think any bench is a personal journey, and this bench is will serve me well until I learn what features I use or need.

Question and critiques are welcome.

Thanks for looking and stay safe.

-- I measured once, cut twice, and its still too short...

11 comments so far

View fivecodys's profile


1647 posts in 2482 days

#1 posted 07-22-2014 11:38 PM

Very nice!
I would like to do that myself.
Thanks for sharing.

-- A bad day woodworking is still better than a good day working.

View jaykaypur's profile


4017 posts in 3254 days

#2 posted 07-22-2014 11:45 PM

You did a great job on this and I am sure, learned a lot in the build. Looks very well done and looks good in the shop. I also like that chisel holder too.

-- Use it up, Wear it out --------------- Make it do, Or do without!

View Oldtool's profile


3024 posts in 3037 days

#3 posted 07-23-2014 12:38 AM

Whoa!, nice bench – especially with that super price tag. Nice work on creating this bench, I’m sure it will serve you well. You’ll make some changes over time, based on your style of woodworking, but the main element, the top, will last you a long – long time.
Now, enjoy the fruits of your labors, happy woodworking.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View Matt's profile


190 posts in 2264 days

#4 posted 07-23-2014 01:29 AM

That is a fantastic top! I found some of the same bowling alley flooring onCL, but the guy wanter $500… you got a great buy!

-- I do this for fun.

View John's profile


246 posts in 2427 days

#5 posted 07-23-2014 01:33 AM

That is a fantastic top! I found some of the same bowling alley flooring onCL, but the guy wanter $500… you got a great buy!

- Matt

I regret only grabbing one. There were several to choose from, but it was only me in my truck. A ten foot slap of 2 1/4 in maple with steel angle iron bolted tp the bottom is HEAVY. I loaded one up myself but didn’t want to risk injury trying another. I returned the next day, but the only thing left was short pieces. Total bummer.

-- I measured once, cut twice, and its still too short...

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4180 days

#6 posted 07-23-2014 09:29 AM

Great job with this very nice bench. I’m sure it will serve you well. I also liked your chisel stand, very handy.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View jinkyjock's profile


488 posts in 2420 days

#7 posted 07-23-2014 12:53 PM

excellent bench, which will stand you in good stead for many a project to come.
Built with the words all we woodworkers love to hear,
Free Wood”.
Cheers, Jinky (James).

View bluekingfisher's profile


1333 posts in 3825 days

#8 posted 07-24-2014 10:30 AM

My kind of project, the use of free reclaimed timber.

In addition, you have done a sterling job on the build. Well done.


-- No one plans to fail, they just, just fail to plan

View TNwoodchuck's profile


102 posts in 4621 days

#9 posted 07-25-2014 01:19 AM

Very nicely and wisely done. I have a slab like yours and have been pondering the best use for it. I really like the way you solved the dog hole issue and may take that approach. Saving further features until you develop the need for them is a great plan. Too many times I have incorporated features that I ended up never using and wasted time and resources in the process.

Thanks for the inspiration and I am sure your new creation will repay your efforts every time you use it.

-- Chuck near Nashville - “All you are unable to give possesses you” (Andre Gide)

View Buckethead's profile


3196 posts in 2715 days

#10 posted 07-25-2014 02:25 AM

It was a clever move to add in an extra piece for the dog holes. This is roubo enough for anyone. In fact, there is an LJ tradition. As nice a bench as any here.


See workbench smack down thread.

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

View htl's profile


5211 posts in 2005 days

#11 posted 01-02-2016 03:33 PM

I helped redo a bowling ally once and got a length a lane and as you say that stuff is HEAVY for sure.
If you had gotten more than one you probable would have been paying for it a long time in chiropractor visits. lol
O and great table.

-- An Index Of My Model making Blogs

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