My Woodworking Bench from Salvage materials

  • Advertise with us
Project by Karson posted 07-26-2008 03:03 AM 19902 views 11 times favorited 73 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I made this bench about 2 years ago and then it was covered up by “Stuff”. I had invited Lee Jesberger to come to the Mason Dixon Woodworkers Club Picnic on July 20, 2008 and so I decided to clean up the shop a little. (I still left enough “Stuff” around to be able to find it later.)

The first item that I uncovered was the bench. Therefore this post. And of course since it was made from Recycled materials I needed it to be entered in the Summer LumberJocks contest.

The legs, stretchers, aprons were all made from some Maple that I picked up in St Louis over 30 years ago. That in it’s self should qualify as recycled. But I ran across this maple. (Newspaper or driving by I don’t know).

I found the wood in a salvage yard. The company was a demolition company and they got the contract to tear down the remnants of a warehouse, factory that had caught fire. The brick building was being knocked down with a crane and the materials being removed with a bulldozer.

Down in the basement they discovered around 2 Million Bd Ft of Hard Rock Maple. Most of the wood was 10 quarter thick, random widths and random length. So I was loading about 27 CU FT of wood in my van every so often. That’s about 3’ X 3’ X 3’. I was paying 5 cents a bd ft for the wood. That was about 324 Bd ft in a load and it cost me about $16.00.

The wood had brick and stone and moter pieces embedded in the wood. I used a body grinder that I put a wire wheel the go over the surface of the wood before running it through my planer.

I made children’s toys with the wood, that I sold at Craft Fairs.

After many trips of doing this I finally asked to site manager what he would charge if I took a whole pile. The pile i selected had about 20,000 BD FT. He said 2 cents a bd ft. So I bought it.

I’ve got about 100 BD Ft left after moving twice and all of the toys.

No one knows the true story, but it was thought that the factory made either 1) Bowling Pins or 2) Ladies High Heels for a shoe Mfg. I just know that there was a lot of wood going to waste sitting uncovered in an outdoors yard.

The entire frame, legs were made from that maple. The legs are 2 1/4” thick by 4” wide. The Apron is 2 1/4 X 7” wide. The base is 2 X 4”. The legs are mortise and Tenoned into the base and the apron is M&T into the legs.

The stretcher is 2 X 7”. There is one at the front and the back. They are bolted to the legs.

The top is another story.

It is a piece of a bowling alley. It is the maple section that is used as your entry into the bowling lane. I originally picked up three pieces 4+ ft wide and 10+ ft long. They were tearing out a bowling alley on my way home from work and I stopped by and picked up a few pieces. The wood was gotten for making my kitchen cabinet counter top for the kitchen i was making for my wife in NJ.

Click for details

Bowling Alleys are not glued. They are tongue and grooved and then have hardened nails shot through the groove.

I used a nail cutting blade in a skill saw and would cut about 1” for the first cut. Then I’d drop it about 1/2” and cut through the nails and then lower it to the full depth of the saw and do the last cut as deep as it would go. I would use a ZipSaw to separate the two pieces. I would always cut through the middle of one of the boards and then I would peal that board off, Use a muffler cutting blade on an air grinder and cut the pieces of nails off to the surface of the groove. I now had a nice smooth surface to put on additional strips of wood to give me the final width.

On the making of this top I wanted to put bench dog holes and I knew that I’d hit nails some where down the run of holes so additional strips of wood were glued on so that I’d would not hit any nails.

The bench is 97” long, 30” wide and 37” high. The top is 2 1/4” thick maple, 1 1/8” wide strips. Not glued, just nailed together.

The vise on the left is an clone of an Emmert Patternmakers Vise, and on the right a ShopFox quick release 7” vise. The breadboards are Macacubba from Central America, with a tenon on the bench top and the mortise in the Breadboard. Pegs are driven through the breadboard and through the tenon to hold it in place. The top has about 44 BD FT of wood and just sits on square pegs on top of the legs into square holes on one side of the top and a rectangle mortise on the other side. This allows the top to move. There is no finish on the top.

The drawer cabinet underneath is just a box that was made to sit on the stretchers. It is not attached. It is not recycled wood.

The wood is 3/4” birch Plywood, with 6 drawers of varying depths.

The drawers are veneered with Waterfall Bubinga Veneer and the bead edging on the drawers is Grandillo. The top and bottom drawers on the right are mirror image matched on the veneer and the left drawers are mirror imaged with the right drawers. There is a space above the cabinet that allows the bench dogs to go through the wood surface. I also store my 16” saw blades for my table saw on the top and my cast iron honing plates that I use with diamond paste for sharpening.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

73 comments so far

View PurpLev's profile


8652 posts in 4930 days

#1 posted 07-26-2008 03:06 AM

That is one Prutty Top!!!

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

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 5026 days

#2 posted 07-26-2008 03:09 AM

Nice bench, Karson. Where’s the ball return?

View Richard Williams's profile

Richard Williams

164 posts in 5074 days

#3 posted 07-26-2008 03:10 AM

Wow you are good. Too bad we are not next door neighbors I would become your apprentice. I can do simple things but my expertise is not in wood. In fact as I am fast approaching 65 in about a little more than a week on the 6th, I still don’t know what I am really good at. :) I’ve been very busy on a project working in collaboration with our local University here in Las Vegas. I know I have not been around much but this project is a humanitarian one that grabbed my interest right away. Should take a few more months. Take care and how have you been feeling? God Bless All.

-- Rich, Nevada,

View ChicoWoodnut's profile


904 posts in 5097 days

#4 posted 07-26-2008 03:14 AM

So what happened to the othe 1.9 million bd ft of maple?

-- Scott - Chico California

View Bradford's profile


1434 posts in 5105 days

#5 posted 07-26-2008 03:16 AM

I vote for this bench to be best use of recycled wood as the cornerstone tool for all other projects starting point. Wow, what a bench. This is a tool after my own wooden heart. Thanks for this post. I just got a woody.

-- so much wood, so little time. Bradford. Wood-a-holics unanimous president

View Karson's profile


35279 posts in 5682 days

#6 posted 07-26-2008 03:16 AM

Richard. I’m feeling great. Just getting started on my second set of kitchen cabinets for my wife. (Blogs to follow).

Tim I knew I forgot something. Dang now I’ll have to tear it apart and add the enhancement. You can bet that won’t happen again.

Lev Thanks for the comment.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View Karson's profile


35279 posts in 5682 days

#7 posted 07-26-2008 03:18 AM

Scott I wish I knew what happened to the other wood. Of course this lot also had 16 X 16” beams that would today be great to cut up with a woodmizer and give some great wood.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View depictureboy's profile


420 posts in 4924 days

#8 posted 07-26-2008 03:27 AM

Karson that is absolutely beautiful…I can’t wait till the day when I can build my bench…thanks for sharing.

-- If you can't build it, code it. If you can't code it, build it. But always ALWAYS take a picture.

View sIKE's profile


1271 posts in 5036 days

#9 posted 07-26-2008 03:45 AM

I love the waterfall Bubinga! The bench looks great!

-- //FC - Round Rock, TX - "Experience is what you get just after you need it"

View daveintexas's profile


365 posts in 5158 days

#10 posted 07-26-2008 04:02 AM

That is a wonderful looking workbench, and well thought out.
I should have known there would be veneer involved if Lee Jesberger was around. lol

thanks for sharing

View gizmodyne's profile


1785 posts in 5372 days

#11 posted 07-26-2008 04:04 AM

Awesome bench. Way to recycle. Love the veneer. We might need a new shop inspection if you are going to start cleaning.

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

View trifern's profile


8135 posts in 5049 days

#12 posted 07-26-2008 04:19 AM

I would struggle getting any work done on this bench. I would simply stare and admire those drawer fronts. Thank you for sharing.

-- My favorite piece is my last one, my best piece is my next one.

View Napaman's profile


5535 posts in 5359 days

#13 posted 07-26-2008 04:41 AM


-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 5270 days

#14 posted 07-26-2008 04:50 AM

Very cool bench. I used an old bowling alley for mine also, except I took all the nails out re-surfaced all the wood and glued it back together.

Looks like we both have a lot of the same stuff. Heavy Duty aluminum foil, boxes of nitril gloves and a box of reguar latex gloves, and even a set of red earmuffs!

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5500 days

#15 posted 07-26-2008 04:55 AM

That wood was quite a score, Karson! And the benchnis beautiful! I love that bubinga veneer. I have a bit myself just waiting for the right project(s).

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

showing 1 through 15 of 73 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics