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Pool Tables

SHOPPING FOR POOL TABLES

Taking your time and asking questions will be your best asset when shopping for a pool table. A pool table can be a very appealing and enjoyable piece of furniture for the home. Again, be sure to carefully check out the construction of the table. Remember, your pool table can provide you many years of recreation if you take the time to invest in the right table for you. Keep in mind that the tables designed to last a lifetime will carry a lifetime warranty.

What you should know to make an informed decision
Where in your home will you be placing your pool table?
How big does my room need to be to accommodate a pool table?
Is there a wood color or a certain theme you are trying to match?

Pool Table Construction Features
What should I consider when choosing a playing surface of a pool table?
What is actually providing the foundation for the slate?
How are the various parts of the table manufactured and assembled?

Beam Support System and Cabinet
Leg Support and Construction
Rail and Blind Construction

Where in your home will you be placing your pool table?

Be sure to measure the room that you plan on placing your pool table and experiment with different room plans so that you can best accommodate your pool table before leaving home. 8’ tables are the most common table size for residential use and the standard cue length is 57 inches. Below is a room-sizing chart that shows the required room sizes based on the size table and the cue length that you are using. Keep in mind that in most cases a 7’ and an 8’ table are the same price.

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How big does my room need to be to accommodate a pool table?

TABLE SIZE CUE LENGTH MINIMUM ROOM SIZE
3.5′ x 7′ 48" 11′ 3" x 14′ 6"
3.5′ x 7′ 52" 11′ 11" x 15′ 2"
3.5′ x 7′ 57" 12′ 9" x 16′
TABLE SIZE CUE LENGTH MINIMUM ROOM SIZE
4′ x 8′ 48" 11′ 8" x 15′ 4"
4′ x 8′ 52" 12′ 4" x 16′
4′ x 8′ 57" 13′ 2" x 16′ 10"

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Is there a wood color or a certain theme you are trying to match?

If you are trying to match your pool table to a wood color that is currently in the room, be sure to bring in a sample of the stained wood when you come shopping for your new table. Wood colors often seem a different shade or tone from your home to our showroom (different lighting). There are also a variety of felt colors available to choose from as well.

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Pool Table Construction Features

What should I consider when choosing a playing surface of a pool table?

There are several different materials and qualities of a table bed. The most basic and inexpensive table bed will use a “fake” or imitation slate. This is often made of MDF or a pressboard of some sort. There is a noticeable difference when shooting on a table with a playing field constructed of these materials. Ball movement isn’t nearly as sharp and the balls will roll slower and will not travel as far as they would on a real slate table. These materials are not moisture or humidity resistant, so warping and cupping is a common problem.

¾” or 1” Slate Bed is constructed of real slate. It is not a man-made product. Real slate is much more expensive than a “fake” slate. However, a table with a true slate on it provides a much more precise and enjoyable game. You do not have to worry about warping and moisture is not an issue with a true slate. You get a precise roll on a real slate and balls travel farther and quicker. Professional tables use a real slate as well as most clubs and bars where tournaments are played. A 3-piece 1” slate will be your best quality slate. A 3-piece slate can be handled very easily in a residential setting and can be planed to a perfectly level playing field, which is very crucial in a game of billiards.

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What is actually providing the foundation for the slate? (Slate Pad)

Many tables will place the slate directly on the cabinet and beams of the table. This is the simplest way of assembling a pool table. However, the heavy slate does not get the adequate or even support that it needs to maintain a lifetime of use. Slate is very fragile and when an equal size flat bed does not support it, it can easily become out of level and develop stress fractures in the slate. This can eventually cause the slate to crack and failure can occur.

Using an actual slate pad is a much better way of supporting the slate bed. It equally supports the slate so that stress fractures do not occur. This also allows for better leveling of the slate. Many slate pads come in two or three pieces and are made of plywood or MDF. The drawback is that these materials can absorb moisture and start to warp and develop uneven areas.

The best slate pad will be made from one solid piece. By having one solid piece you eliminate possible shifting that can occur. The latest technology in manufacturing a slate pad uses an omni directional resin. This resists moisture and humidity so warping is not an issue. You want a slate pad that is planed almost to perfection. Look for a slate pad that is level to near five one-thousandths of an inch and provides a seam-free foundation.

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How are the various parts of the table manufactured and assembled?

Look for a table that is assembled like a high quality piece of furniture. Find a table with as few metal brackets and hardware as possible. Higher quality tables will use mortising as much as possible to secure joints and seams. Metal brackets shift and loosen over time, which will cause an uneven playing field. The reason some companies use metal brackets is because the table comes in one or two small boxes and then has to be completely assembled. High end tables will usually come from the factory already pre-assembled by trained artisans. This will insure an extremely precise table.

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Beam Support System and Cabinet:

It is very important to take a look underneath a pool table you are considering and to examine how it is assembled. From the top, all tables look basically the same. Most tables will have at least two beams supporting the slate or the slate pad; however, as you increase in quality you will find tables with three beams (don’t let anyone tell you that their table is so strong that it only needs two beams). The latest design incorporates a four-beam system, in which the beams interlock one another. This provides not only maximum strength to the playing field, but it also helps the beams to support each other and keep the cabinet square and true. One thing to ask your salesperson is how the beams are made. Many beams resemble a regular 2×4 piece of lumber. The strongest design will use a cross laminated beam. The cross laminated beams do not warp or absorb moisture like a traditional wood beam can. Another advantage to the cross laminated beams is that they are much stronger than a wood beam and can hold up a lot better to the weight of the slate and people leaning on the table. Many beams are held in place by screws from the outside of the cabinet. The best design is where the beams are actually recessed inside of the cabinet. This transfers the weight to the cabinet where it should be. You do not have to worry about screws pulling out from the weight of the slate.

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Leg Support and Construction:

Be sure to take a close look at how the leg supports the cabinet of the pool table in each of the four corners. Many tables will screw or bolt the leg in place. Again, the hardware being used can start to pull out and shift and can easily become misaligned. A better design is to have a metal bracket or brackets where the leg is secured to the cabinet. This provides a stronger joint than hardware alone, but keep in mind you still have nails or screws that are holding the brackets in place. Those can eventually pull out under stress. The strongest design in the pool table industry uses a triple anchor gusset system (T.A.G.). The T.A.G. system starts by bonding 2” solid wood anchor blocks into mortised recesses in the cabinet sidewalls. This becomes the anchor for the rest of the corner. A mitered and tapered 2” gusset plate is then bonded and secured to the mortised anchor blocks, locking the corner into place and preventing any racking or shifting.

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Rail and Blind Construction:

In addition to looking at how the cabinet is constructed, be sure to take some time to look at how the blinds are secured to the rails of the pool table. Sometimes this is very difficult to physically see, but don’t hesitate to ask someone how they are assembled. Many tables will use screws, nails, or metal brackets to attach the blind to the rail. From a manufacturing standpoint there is much less work because these parts are not assembled and shipping is much more compact. The drawback is that screws and nails especially have a tendency to loosen up and start to rock back and forth. You must keep in mind that people are constantly leaning and resting on a pool table. This design seems very secure at first, but it doesn’t take long to realize that it does not stay secure. A better design is to actually glue or glue and nail the blind to the rail. By actually using glue you don’t have to worry about hardware pulling out over time. The best design actually cuts a dado in the rail, in which the blind is bonded inside of. This design is the strongest because you have support around the blind aided by the actual glue joint. This design is done using no nails or other hardware.

When looking at the rails and blinds, be sure to ask about the type of bumpers or cushions that are used. There are a countless number of different materials in making the cushions for a pool table. Cushions that use a man-made or a synthetic rubber will have an uneven bounce and also develop “dead” spots. This is when a ball hits a cushion and it deviates from the path physics would normally predict it to go. Look for a cushion that is 100% natural gum rubber. A good example of this is a cushion approved by the Billiard Congress of America for tournament play called the Sure Shot K66 cushion. The Sure Shot K66 cushion is aligned to the rail using an “Accuracy Edge,” this guarantees a precise fit to the rail. Also ask if the cushion uses a control fabric. A control fabric guarantees a consistent and accurate ball rebound.

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