I Worked For It!


May 11, 2013, 07:32 PM

About a year and a half ago, a local bowling alley flooded. The sprinkler fire main under their floor burst in the early hours of the morning & those folks had a disaster. Due to legal fights with the city & the various insurance entities, payment has been long overdue to them. However, theyíve gotten their check and rebuilding is underway. Which means new lanes. And that brings me to the point of this post.

The old lanes had to be wrecked out in order to make way for the new ones. Thursday PM we got told that if we could get our rears down to the lanes, we could have what we could pull out. Monday the construction company comes in & starts work by removing anything thatís left. The shop & I scored three approaches and my section is about twelve to twelve and a half feet long of 42Ē wide rock hard maple. Itís going to be my new reloading bench top when we remodel the ranch house. And that project is already underway.

Thursday evening, I had a serious case of WPS, or Whipped Puppy Syndrome, but I feel it was worth it. I donít know for sure what this section weighs, but a WAG puts it at around 500 lbs. All I know is, itís damn heavy.

At 42Ē wide, thereís room for a one foot deep storage section at the back wall & that leaves a 30Ē wide work bench. I feel thatís the best way to proceed because trying to rip this section would be a real trial. Thereís square nails & screws all through it. Besides, with the finish thatís on it, itís beeyootiful!


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May 11, 2013, 07:40 PM
Grab some pins to shoot too!

May 11, 2013, 07:45 PM
Wow, that's a great haul right there. No telling what it would cost new.

May 11, 2013, 09:23 PM
Spent & Fella's;

The pins are loooong gone. Didn't get any of those, but that's OK. I've got gophers & got to do that today! Life is good & tomorrow I'm going to haul the wood up to the ranch & drop it off there. It'll be next year before the addition/remodel will have the dedicated man-cave ready for it's installation.


May 11, 2013, 09:51 PM
Thick enough to make a nice rifle or shotgun stock?

May 11, 2013, 09:55 PM
I was thinking about making workbench out of this stuff but then decided against. It's all filled with metal staples/nails inside and it's _not_ glued like butcher block. People took sections apart, cleaned from metal, glued together and refinished(search internet on this). Than it became nice bench top. But not in original condition. Wood is very nice and thick. It's just takes lot of labor to turn it into bench top.

I decided to pass and just bought couple butcher blocks from IKEA on sale $59/each

May 12, 2013, 12:21 AM

Believe me, this is glued. There are glue drips all over the bottom of it. I'll have to get those off eventually, but that's no big deal. I have no idea how many years of getting pounded by bowling balls this piece of wood has gone through, but there have probably been hundreds of thousands of impacts, if not millions, and it looks great!


May 12, 2013, 06:02 AM
When you get this project finished a picture would be super.:) I am too cheap by far to have that for a material on my bench top. Back in high school the benches in the wood shop were made of birds eye maple and were tough with a beautiful pattern.

May 12, 2013, 09:37 AM
Just set that bench top on four 8" diameter maple tree trunks for legs and you'll have it. Now there's a reloading bench that won't be walking around on ya !

May 12, 2013, 04:54 PM

There is zero chance of making any kind of stock out of this material. There are cross nails all through it. And, they are twisted square shank nails.

At this time the plan is to frame it with 2" square steel tube and probably use 4X4 timber legs. As with my present bench, there will be plenty of bracing to spread loads & keep even minor movement to an absolute minimum. The present bench is fir 2X4's edge set, through bolted, glued, and planed on the top surface. It's a full 12 feet long and occupies one wall of the man cave. In other words, this new bench ain't a-gonna be my first rodeo.

Just got back from taking it up to the ranch & storing it in one of the old out buildings. Garcon, o garcon! More aspirin here, silver plates an' mercy buttercups an' all that there frog talk.


Jesse Heywood
May 12, 2013, 07:06 PM
Your 500 lb. guess should be very close, figuring 3" thick material. I don't think it will be moving on you, not even if you're loading 20 MM. :D

As for your frenchy talk, the only words I remember are ones that would get my face slapped. :eek:

May 12, 2013, 07:23 PM
Nice. I used to work for a technical college. We got flooded, and as part of the restoration, the electronic labs were refreshed with new workbenches. There really wasn't any damage to the existing benches, as the frames were metal and the water level only got to about 18" inches at worst. But the old benches were scrapped, and given away on a first come, first served basis. I grabbed two, and one became my reloading bench, and I gave one to a fellow shooting/reloading buddy. Not as massive as your score, but these were solid "butcher-block" hardwood bench tops about 2" thick, and 3'x5' in size. Ideal for a reloading bench.

Every now and then, it is nice to be in the right place at the right time.

May 12, 2013, 09:26 PM
Great score! A few years ago a bowling alley near me went out of business. I heard the lanes were all sitting outside in pieces, free for the taking. Unfortunately, I heard this about a week too late. By the time I got there, there wasn't much left except some scraps that would have been more trouble than worth.

Way to go!

May 13, 2013, 12:01 AM
About 40 years ago I bought four 60" sections of a cut up shuffle board at a farm auction for $3. They are 30" wide and 3" thick. Gave a couple to my dad and used a couple over the years, one for a loading bench. My dad passed away last year and the two I gave him came back to me. One he had mounted on a steel leg set from Sears and I am currently using that for my LnL AP. The other he had built a woodworking bench with, using 2" frame and 4 x 4 legs. Today I moved it from our country place, which we are selling, into town. I used my tractor loader to sit it in the pickup. Have to unload it tomorrow. It is HEAVY. When I get set up I will use it for casting. It has three drawers and a storage space.
Those maple tops are really nice.

May 13, 2013, 12:06 AM
You are very lucky to have gotten such great wood, it's very expensive to buy for sure.

Don't forget the pictures when you're done building the bench...

May 14, 2013, 09:44 AM
The nails will not mean much if you'll load your Skill saw or table saw with a carbide blade. The carbide should zing right through it... if you go slow. There may not be much of a blade left by the time you finish, but you can safely cut it.

What you cannot do with nail-studded wood is put it through a planner. Those blades are typically not carbide, just high carbon steel. Nails will rip a planner a new one.

Typically, bowling alley wood is not simply "maple", but a special dense-grain maple that is super hard called "rock maple". It's only grown in very cold areas, like Michigan's UP or Canada, where the growing season is short. Typically rock maple is also "old growth", meaning from forested areas not previously cut. It's also prized by musical instrument makers. One clear piece, large enough to make a guitar or banjo neck, could pay for all your reloading equipment. Think about that while you toss those "scraps" into the wood burning stove. :D

May 14, 2013, 11:52 AM

I'm not figuring on doing any sawing with this wood. No scraps, no ruined saw blades, none of that. I'm planning on placing it against the wall and building it in. There will be storage on the back of it about a foot deep. Haven't decided whether or not that'll be open cubbies or cabinets with doors. Although I think that a couple of rows of cubbies with cabinets above will probably be what happens. That leaves me with a 30" span of work surface that won't have to have clearance for the cabinet doors. Square steel tubing frame and substantial legs along with the integration of the cabinetry to the wall(s) will make it a pretty solid structure.


May 14, 2013, 09:38 PM
To make a loading bench from my shuffleboard piece I had a narrow (about 4') room. I drilled holes in 2" angle 30" long and lag screwed them into the walls, like an upside down "L". I then cut the top to a snug fit and drove it down onto the "L" brackets with a heavy hammer, hitting on a 2x4 lying on the top. VERY stable bench. The maple cut surprisingly well with a skil saw.
Build it like you want it as it will last a long, long time.

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