Rails: A two-piece cross-laminated hardwood oversized rail
design will give you a component that will resist warping, cupping
or cracking. The 5 ½" oversize top rail adds to the beauty
of the table while also making it easier to play on, allowing the
player more room to hand bridge shots close to the rail.
part of the top rail is the hardware used to fasten the rail to the
slate-playing surface. The preferred fastening method is a rectangular
floating nut plate embedded inside the rail. These nut plates, along
with a 3/8" hex bolt and dome toothed washer, provide the ultimate
downward torque and tensile strength, eliminating vibration.
A K-66 profile gum rubber cushion will provide years of accurate,
consistent and lively table play. A quality cushion will float in water,
while a rubber cushion with high amounts of fillers will sink; fillers are
another way for a manufacturer to cut cost.
high quality cloth will be a blended 75% wool and 25% nylon 22 oz.
fabric. This will give you excellent playability and lasting wear.
The blind rail gives a finished look to the top portion of the pool
table. The blind rail receives a lot of abuse during table play. Players
lean in to make a shot and constantly bump the blind rail. The blind
rails should be securely fastened to the side of the top rail. Some
blind rails are attached with unsightly hardware, which takes away
from the beauty of the table. Inspect how the blind rail is attached
and what type of material is used. Hardwood is the preferred material
because of its beauty and strength.
A slate-playing surface has been recognized and approved by the BCA
as the only playing surface suitable for tournament play. Genuine
Slate is a deep mined metamorphic rock, millions of years old,
extremely stable and durable. It can resist temperature and humidity
changes, and is precisely honed and surfaced. Once the slate has
been leveled to your table, it will be a dead flat playing surface.
The preferred . . . it will give you an excellent playing area for
your table. The preferred slate playing surface is
a three-piece design slab cut and diamond surfaced. A three-piece
slate allows more areas for adjustment when leveling and is easier
to handle. You will hear many sales pitches about the origin of the
slate and the thickness of the slate. What is important to remember
is that slate is a natural substance. It has no exclusive origin.
If it is properly mined and processed, it will give you an excellent
playing area for your table.
does affect the manufacturing cost of a table, but not the playability
of your table if it is properly supported and installed. It is recommended
that a minimum of ¾" thick slate be used. Any thinner
may be susceptible to cracking or breakage.
If both slate thickness are equally and properly supported, you will
not be able to tell the difference between ¾" and 1".
For maintaining an accurate playing area, the slate must be fully
supported. Many manufacturers will glue wood liners to the slate,
which can cause inconsistency between the slate and the wood liner.
In addition, wood liners are made of several pieces of wood; the more
seams, the greater chance of movement. Movement will cause the slate
top to pop or shift out of level. The most desirable slate support
is a one-piece design with no seams made from manufactured materials
that resist climate change and have excellent fastener retention values.
When examining the frame cabinet of the table, it is important
to look at how the table fits together. Do the parts interlock to
fuse the components as "one"? The more rigid the frame cabinet,
the less chance the slate will pop or shift out of level.
If the frame
support system is designed and engineering properly, the frame wall
thickness is not critical. The only reason for a thicker frame wall
is to insure that the table panel will not spread or sag under stress.
A properly designed
frame construction should have interlocking cross bracing and center
bracing anchored directly to the frame cabinet wall. Many manufacturers
will support their interior bracing with scrap wood blocks. Although
more costly to manufacture, a combination of steel-timber connectors
and European insert hardware anchored directly into the frame and
bracing will give superior strength. This method unitizes the frame
cabinet. Steel will maintain its original shape and strength characteristics
indefinitely. The combination of wood and steel are easily verified
by looking at construction methods for decking, floor joices, or roof
trusses; all three have much more than 500 lbs. of slate resting on
the method used to mount the legs to the frame cabinet. Quality pool
tables will utilize a large heavy gauge 3/8" lag bolt or machine
bolt with a heavy gauge fender washer. This combination allows greater
torque strength. Once again, rigidity is important between the frame
and the legs to eliminate movement. The larger the foot plant, the
more balanced the table becomes and will evenly distribute the weight from
the playing surface to the floor. Several different style legs are
available including: pedestals, hollow box, hollow tapered, solid turned
and solid carved legs. Depending on the materials, size and amount
of routing or carving on the leg, the price range will fluctuate.
examining the finish on the pool table, it is important to look at and
feel the final product. Quality finishes do not happen by accident.
The finish should be consistent in color and smooth to the touch.
require multiple steps to achieve. The final finish coat should be
a catalyzed materials this will insure you a hard, mar-resistant, durable
finish. Most quality manufacturers will utilize a name brand product.
This is important for you to know in case future materials are needed
for touch up or if you ever want furniture to be finished to match.
Another important part of your purchasing decision is whom you
buy the pool table from. They should be an experienced and reliable
billiard retailer. Is their primary business game room furniture or
something else? Do they do their own installations or contract to
an independent installer? Are they an authorized dealer for the brand
you have selected? Take time to browse through their store and get
a feel for who they are and what they do.
When making an
investment as expensive as a pool table, it should be a comfortable,
fun decision that you will enjoy for many years to come.