Consider an 8-foot table (refers to a length twice its width of four feet) as presenting a medium challenge. Smaller sizes create many clustered balls and larger tables can cause frustration by forcing longer, difficult shot making. If you have adequate room space, though, you might opt for a 9-foot table. As skills grow you’ll be a champ when visiting “puny” 8-footers.
Allow for space on all sides of the table to stroke cuesticks and for convenient cue storage. Show me a tight poolroom and I’ll show you wall marks from cues smacking the walls. Use six feet of space per side, plus a few inches for backswings.
Don’t skimp. Paying $ 500 more for a bigger or better table may not seem a good investment until you consider the possibility of owning the table for 40 years or longer.
Three generations enjoyed pool on my grandfather’s table until his home sold, when the table was given to the incoming homeowner still in excellent condition for play.
Pick a spot for your poolroom with the most level flooring possible. Bare floors or carpeting is no matter; a table may weigh over one ton and will settle into place on its own. Be prepared to leave the new furniture in place for years to come!
Humidity and temperature play a role also and affect the balls and cloth both. The best location for your table is inside in a cool, dry room of your home.
Understanding just how a pool table is made up can help you better understand the value of your table when you purchase it. And knowing how it works can be valuable if you need to evaluate repairs.
What are the major components of a pool table? Rails: Rails make up the top part of the pool table to which the cushions and pockets are attached.
Solid wood rails are more suitable for busy billiard parlors while particle board rails are sufficient for recreational play at home. Each rail should have a track strip so that it can sit evenly on the slate and the cushions can have bounce.
Slate: The most significant part of the pool table is the slate. There are two types of slate: 1 piece or 3 piece slate.
The 3 piece slate is commonly used in pool table manufacturing. It allows for more precise leveling of your table.
A 1 piece slate table is very rare. Slate sizes vary from 3/4 inch, 7/8 inch and 1 inch. The 3/4 inch slate is used on inexpensive tables while 1inch slate is the standard used for tournaments. The slate is attached directly to the frame of the table with screws and comes with or without wood backing.
Legs: The tables legs are placed under the frame cabinet and offer support to the entire playing area. A table is generally more durable if its legs are made of solid wood.
Frame Cabinet: The frame is the part of the table that the legs attach to and the slate lies atop. A rigid frame cabinet prevents the slate from shifting and becoming unleveled.
The frame cabinet is usually made from solid wood or MDF board. Good pool tables will have a center beam and also two cross beams to provide support to the slate. A few manufactures even offer double center beams for extra support.
Cushions: A cushion is usually made of rubber and is attached to the top rail. Balls come into contact with cushions while playing pool. Molded gum rubber cushions offer the fastest rebound. K-66 style cushions are widely used in tournaments.
Pockets: The pool tables pockets are attached to the rails and hold the ball when a shot is made. Pockets can be made of leather, plastic or rubber.
Plastic pockets are of inferior quality and come with cheap pool tables while rubber pockets are used for commercial tables. Leather pockets are more expensive and have either a leather shield or a decorative fringe.
Jack R. Landry has played professional billiards for the last 19 years and written hundreds of articles about billiards and pool tables.
Jack R. Landry