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Posted on: July 30, 2015

After 50 plus years, the all wood lanes at Hilliard’s Ten Pin Alley are making the change to a synthetic overlay. Ten Pin Alley is (was) one of the last all wood centers in Columbus.

To put it frankly, back in the day, all lanes were wood. But then in the 80’s, a new synthetic material was invented; a pressed paper product which acted as a new type of lane – longer lasting and easier to maintain.

So what’s that mean? Every couple years any center with all wood lanes would need to sand and smooth their lanes. Even though the oil used daily on bowling lanes helps protect them, they do get banged up quite a bit resulting in numerous dents, bumps and scratches –  imagine a 14 pound weight thrown thousands of times and you’ll get the idea. So every couple years the lanes would require a fine sanding along the length of the lane, followed by a new polishing and chemical sealant. However you can only sand so many times over the course of decades until the wood is too thin for use.

Here’s a look at the before and after:


It will be nice to not have to do that anymore. Some of you may have visited during that time and remember the smells. It would be pretty rough in here for those few days. We would close to the public, open all the doors and use fans, but it’s a strong smell and you had a heck of a headache when you got home.

That type of maintenance will no longer be needed as the new overlay is stronger, longer lasting and created to take the punishment of balls being dropped, thrown and slid across it thousands of times a week.  Another added benefit is the oil will remain on the lanes longer, as wood lanes have a tendency to soak up most of the oil over the course of the day.

So are we ripping up the whole lane? No it’s an overlay and the entire lane is not being replaced. Only the top ½ inch is being removed, and that’s only at the initial foul line. From that initial depth the wood moves up at angle until it levels out. The rest of the lane is stripped and the overlay goes on top.

Here’s a picture of the guys at work:


The approach (the area you stand and walk-up to throw your ball) will remain wood and receive a nice sanding and polish when everything is completed.

The crew responsible for this is Ten Pin Construction, one of the only available for this type of work, and led by Brian Sashko. Brian and his crew have been kind enough to work through the night (from close to open), doing two lanes per evening to minimize the impact on summer bowling. Brian says this is one of the busiest bowling alleys he’s ever seen during the summer. Thanks summer pass!


Total construction time was expected to take 2 weeks and they’re entering the home stretch; hoping to be done by Monday. In addition to the new look and feel, the synthetic lanes POP a lot more under black lights, providing a nice glow for late night bowling.

Here’s a shot of some completed lanes next to the remaining few that need done. Quite a difference!