Firehouse table

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Project by tallpaul posted 08-02-2011 08:05 AM 6210 views 5 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

So, the genesis of this project: A local lumberyard was being demolished, and some fellow firefighters happened upon some big slabs of wood from a bowling alley that was torn up years before. They were free for the taking, and we envisioned building a firehouse tabletop to replace a gray, boring piece of melamine in our day room.

So, I soon found out that working with this material is a labor of love. The individual pine strips were never glued together, rather they were fastened cross grain with a whole lot of nails. Cross cutting anywhere meant cutting through them, no options. Lateral support was provided by metal angle iron screwed in from beneath. Remove that and it all flexes – a lot. The bottom surface was really irregular, and protected by a thick coating of tar, I guess to prevent rot. We used a big drum sander to flatten the bottom, and screwed 3/4” square stock into dados every 18” along the length of the piece, to stabilize the whole affair. It seems to have worked fine.

The rest was straightforward: Cherry edging mitered at the corners, and with scarf joints along the long edge, glued and screwed in place, with poplar dowels plugging the holes. I used some custom made decals for the graphics, which mirror what you might see on our engines, and added to the effect with a 1/2” pinstripe detail done with red tape from an automotive detail source. The finished top is about thirteen feet long, 46” wide, and weighs a ton. A bit more than 2” thick.

I thought about all sorts of finishes, but knowing that this table would see heavy use from lots of knuckle draggers in the firehouse, I opted for a two part epoxy bar top finish, which came out pretty nice. You see this kind of finish in restaurants and bars everywhere. We’ll see how it stands the test of time.

Personally, I’m really pleased with the contrasting colors or cherry and pine, and the high gloss finish works well.

Thanks for looking!

-- tallpaul

9 comments so far

View SchottFamily's profile


105 posts in 3059 days

#1 posted 08-02-2011 08:44 AM

Amazing; especially the finish. That gloss really shows off the contrast. The bowling alley didn’t burn down, did it? ;)


View sawblade1's profile


754 posts in 3593 days

#2 posted 08-02-2011 09:00 AM

Hot Project :)

-- Proverbs Ch:3 vs 5,6,7 Trust in the lord with all thine heart and lean not unto your own understanding but in all your ways aknowledge him and he shall direct your path [email protected]

View Ken90712's profile


17798 posts in 3755 days

#3 posted 08-02-2011 10:07 AM

What a great project. I never suspected they were decals, looks great. I would have also never guessed that the bowling alley lanes were not glued but rather nailed as well. Interesting post and great job. May you and your Co workers always be safe!

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View ChesapeakeBob's profile


368 posts in 4049 days

#4 posted 08-02-2011 01:17 PM

Great table! I printed this to show to a fire fighter co-worker.

-- Chesapeake Bob, Southern Maryland

View drbyte's profile


835 posts in 4629 days

#5 posted 08-02-2011 03:16 PM

We have talked about one like this at our fire house many times. Great job. We need to stop talking and get to building!!

-- Dennis, WV

View Bluepine38's profile


3387 posts in 3652 days

#6 posted 08-03-2011 05:02 PM

Great project, looks good and should do just that little extra bit to lift the spirits of all your coworkers as well
as yourself, just that little extra always seems to help the day go by a little better. Thank you for sharing.

-- As ever, Gus-the 80 yr young apprentice carpenter

View wrench's profile


320 posts in 3180 days

#7 posted 08-05-2011 03:33 AM

Awesome! very cool.

-- J Wrench Syracuse New York

View duckmanwv's profile


54 posts in 2548 days

#8 posted 01-08-2013 02:22 AM


View JSB's profile


737 posts in 2645 days

#9 posted 01-08-2013 02:38 AM

Well if anything you put it in the right place, plenty of strong hands to help move it!
Great job on the finish and nice touch with the decals. Looks great!

-- Jay -

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