How to build with bowling alley wood


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If you find a piece of old bowling lane, you may want to make it into a table or a counter-top. Old lanes are made of good wood and they look great, but working with this wood is full of challenges. The wood is often beat-up, unstable, and can be filled with unexpected hardware. In this video, I show you how I made a kitchen island and several counters with old bowling lane. A lot of things were difficult, but I’m really pleased with the final result. Along the way, I found a ton of strategies for dealing with this unpredictable material.

Jay Bates’ circ-saw guide:

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28 thoughts on “How to build with bowling alley wood

  1. Along comes a problem and then more problems. Along with the problem(s) comes Rex Krueger with pockets full of solutions that we all should “figure out” but usually don’t. He’s making a library of woodworking gems that will bless the world for years. What a legacy!

  2. Question? Couldn't you use plywood back with a facial board? Also, what would you use to attach plywood to bowling lane?

  3. I'm not surprised that you did so well. You really seem to understand the limitations of the tools and how to adapt; as opposed to just remembering what was taught.

  4. The hand plane removal is the true takeaway of this whole video. I see people stripping furniture, guitars, any wood with finish, and they almost always go with chemicals, or the heat gun and scraper. This makes so much more sense, especially with import guitars as the finish is sometimes ⅛" thick!

  5. I'm about to dive in to a project like this, but simpler. Just a straight-cut countertop with no weird cutouts. this video made me realize it's a bigger thing than I thought but I'm stoked. Thanks for the info!

  6. Several years back, I man-handled some from a pile when a local lane closed. They are more like 10-12 inches wide long enough to be heavy. Been wondering how to get the nails out and use the maple. Never mind that now. Come warmer weather, they'll get cleaned up and put to use. I should have known there was some help out there. Thank you.

  7. My work got a bunch of composite bowling alley lanes a few years back. It is much thinner (1/2" or so) and is awesome for work surfaces. The stuff is very hard and durable and over the course of probably 8 years in a machine shop having all sorts of stuff tossed on them I don't think any of them have any damage other than maybe light scratches. Can't say for the normal wood lanes but if you ever have a chance at composite alley stuff… GET it.

  8. The nails won't activate your sawstop mecanism if ou don't touch 'em at the same time. They have to be grounded to activate the sawstop…

  9. Thanks for the great and informative video. Definitely steered me away from the idea of doing a countertop out of some local bowling ally wood. Your finished product is really nice, but I’m not wanting to put in that amount of effort.

  10. When the counter was installed, was the exposed edge faced with a trim piece?   I am doing a table out of similar material and planned on sanding the edge but it looked like the counter was trimmed on the edge in the pictures.  I was wondering what the sanded edge looked like after you finished it with the 90 degree sander that you made.  Thanks

  11. u could have glued shims to saw and kept adding them one by one and just worked way from one cut to the other shim by shim just an idea in future I use paint stirrer's

  12. This reminds me of my dad's attempts at using old bowling lane wood. He ran into all the same issues, but he never got around them. Glad to see you get through it all.

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