Gauging the worth of reclaimed Bowling Alley Lanes (locally available for free)

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Forum topic by BRAVOGOLFTANGO posted 02-06-2013 02:10 PM 7160 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch


280 posts in 2458 days

02-06-2013 02:10 PM

As the subject states, pretty much a local bowling alley is remodeling, tonds of the lanes are free to the public. Appear to be pine to me, just laminated together. Thought of building a mini-robou workbench from what.

If it were oak or maple I’d really be more anxious, but it appears as pine to me. Would anyone here know what the standard medium for bowling lanes is? Would it be worth loading up a section? They are huge, like 12’ long which I might need a lowboy.

16 replies so far

View Hugh_McAndrew's profile


2 posts in 2447 days

#1 posted 02-06-2013 02:21 PM

A quick internet search shows that
“The first 12 feet of all wooden lanes is made of maple, the next 46 feet is made of pine and the pin deck is made of maple.”

As to if it’s worth it, I guess that depends what you want to do with it. If you’ve got a use, free wood is free wood!

View CrazeeTxn's profile


151 posts in 2405 days

#2 posted 02-06-2013 02:29 PM

Not sure what a mini-robou workbench is, but a workbench sounds like a good idea no matter what the wood is. Course, if you want something that’s dead flat, good luck :) But a workbench for day to day ops sounds good…especially when it’s free!

View OggieOglethorpe's profile


1276 posts in 2565 days

#3 posted 02-06-2013 02:30 PM

Ping PurpLev…

I think he has experience in the reclaimed bowling alley realm.

View DIYaholic's profile


19844 posts in 3129 days

#4 posted 02-06-2013 02:41 PM

Fellow LJer, JL7 also has experience with reclaimed bowling alley lane. He has made some really nice projects with it!!!

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View luv2learn's profile


2956 posts in 2757 days

#5 posted 02-06-2013 03:23 PM

Man, free is free! I would go for it provided you have a place to store it.

-- Lee - Northern idaho~"If the women don't find you handsome, at least they ought to find you handy"~ Red Green

View SamuraiSaw's profile


515 posts in 2419 days

#6 posted 02-06-2013 03:42 PM

How thick is the material? It will certainly be stable wood, I’m presuming the bowling alley has been there for a while. I’m betting some nice projects can come from that wood.

-- Artisan Woodworks of Texas....

View TheDane's profile


5667 posts in 4117 days

#7 posted 02-06-2013 03:46 PM

Depends on the age and manufacturer of the lanes. The ones I worked on back in the 60’s had hard maple pin decks and the first 12’ from the foul line, then soft maple for the remaining 46’. The approaches were also hard maple.

They were tongue and groove and loaded with ring-shank nails.


-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View poopiekat's profile


4500 posts in 4189 days

#8 posted 02-06-2013 03:46 PM

It might be denty, unless you get a piece from beyond the lob line :-)

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!



280 posts in 2458 days

#9 posted 02-06-2013 04:08 PM

Thanks for the tips guys, figures it’d rain today, regardless, I’m a bit anxious about getting some of this stuff. I have a generator, circ-saw, sawzall, whatever I need to cut it down for truckbed length, but just didn’t care to do all that just for pine. New kiln-dried pine is inexpensive enough.

- crzytexn – guess by mini-roubu I was just referring to a smaller than the norm version. I have a 2-car garage that’s a dedicated woodshop now. I also think it’d be cool to build my Grandon a mini-roubu from this bowling alley lane maybe, similar to the LJ mini-bench someone posted on here this week I think.

Wish I was better versed and experienced with identifying the wood mediums, I’m decent with some of it that I’ve worked with a lot, but the underside of these lanes are dripping with glue all over the place and 30 coats of old yellowed clear on the top, lol…tough to tell the grain.

This facility I’m guessing for the area was built in the 80s maybe.

View chrisstef's profile


17941 posts in 3461 days

#10 posted 02-06-2013 04:18 PM

I say greab a sawzall and some of Milwaukee’s Axe blades and go cut yourself up a good 8’ section. It would make an awesome bench. I dont think that i would ever try and pry them all apart for free reusable lumber. There’s just too many nails and other crap to deal with. Even if it is pine they usually stacked them with the edge grain up so it would be plenty tough enough for a bench.

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

View MT_Stringer's profile


3183 posts in 3685 days

#11 posted 02-06-2013 04:44 PM

Last report I saw last night is it is all gone except for some 2×4s in the dumpster. Apparently the word got out and folks showed up yesterday morning and loaded up. Somehow I am always a day late and a dollar short! :-(

You are talking about the Clear Lake Lanes.?

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View PurpLev's profile


8551 posts in 4103 days

#12 posted 02-06-2013 06:01 PM

the ends of the bowling alley lanes are hard maple, and is a nice material for certain uses as it is thick, hard, and straight (and dry).

that said, there is no free lunch – it takes some effort to clean those boards up and use them for projects. First you have those hardened nails every 4 inches or so that will destroy your saw blades, then you have the tar on the bottom that you’d have to clean off (and will tarnish your saw blades/hand planes/etc), and at the end you are left with material that is full of holes (nails)- so in essence isn’t really suitable for just any project. great for shop projects and workbenches or “reclaimed look” projects though.

don’t get me wrong – all the above is very doable, just don’t expect this material to magically transform into a project without some effort put into it.

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

View PASs's profile


595 posts in 3553 days

#13 posted 02-06-2013 06:03 PM

For future reference….
I got a few sections back in ‘88.
REALLY nice wood…but every 6 inches they were shot through with hardened ring shank nails.
Almost impossible to pry apart, and disaster to anything less than a metal cutting blade.
But it’s almost like pre-assembled workbench tops.

-- Pete, "It isn't broken, you just aren't using it right."

View TheDane's profile


5667 posts in 4117 days

#14 posted 02-06-2013 06:12 PM

Among the things in life I will never forget is the time I hit one of those ring-shank nails with a plunge router and straight bit. I was routing out a dent to install a dutchman and went a little too deep. Definitely Charmin time!


-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"



280 posts in 2458 days

#15 posted 02-06-2013 09:51 PM

As MTstringer stated, it’s all gone, went buy lunchtime today and poof. Seems every local forum from fishing to knitting hand puppets knew this wood was sitting there..holy cow!

Meh, least I’ll know for next time what they’re made of, etc.

showing 1 through 15 of 16 replies

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