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Build Your Own Pool Table
Many of us love to play billiards. Many of us also love to work with our hands. For some, this skill manifests itself as a love to work with wood and to build things. For these talented few, putting together a pool table may be the height of art. From getting or creating your pool table plans, to finding the perfect pieces of slate and billiard table felt to working with the wood itself, if you're going to build your own pool table, stand by for a project that you'll enjoy.
One of the biggest obstacles to many craftsmen lies in finding some of the quality materials you'll need and the pool table plans to start from. We're here to try to help with some of those issues, as well as to direct you to some pictures and other information that may help you along.
Planning Your Billiards Room
Before you get started, the first thing to do is to find out if you have enough room for a table. Many people say to allow 5 feet on each side of the table, but that doesn't allow you any room for furnishings and room decoration. Even without that consideration, the length of a regulation pool cue is 57 inches. If you're shooting on the rail and you've allowed 5 feet of clearance, that only leaves you 6 or 7 inches of room for the stroke, which is a little short if you're trying to have some action at the other end of the table. If at all possible, use or design a room with more clearance.
Note that if you're really tight on space, it is possible to shave a little room off by using shorter cues sticks.
Pool Table Size Buying Guide has a chart with the recommended space needed for different sized pool tables.
Best Billiards has a page on building a pool table that covers step by step directions with pictures on how to build a pool table. www.bestbilliard.com
Atlas Billiards has a felt color chart and a Room and Slate size chart at www.atlasbilliardservice.com, and Best Billiards also has a Room Sizing Guide at www.bestbilliard.com/resources/dimensions.htm, these should be helpful in determining the best size for your pool table.
Pool Table Plans
Once you've determined that you have enough room, you'll probably want to obtain some pool table plans. Furniture Plans has a set of plans for $24.99 on their website for an 8-foot pool table. Please be aware that while this isn't a regulation pool table, it does appear to be a great table for home use. Regulation tables must be exactly half as wide as they are long, and this is 100 ¾" long x 56 ¾" wide. I believe it also uses a single piece of slate, and regulation tables require three separate pieces. Unless you're planning to host a tournament in your basement or you're building for a pool hall, you're probably not too concerned with the regulation aspect.
Best Billiards also has some nice visuals and step-though photos on their website. The author says he has no plans, but he gives step-by-step measurements, even diagramming how to fasten pieces together and showing how to clamp different parts. With over 50 photos, illustrations, and charts, this is a must-read.
We've had some inquiries about free pool table plans, but haven't had too much luck finding any online. If you know of a site that has some or, better yet, if you have your own pool table plans (free or otherwise) that you'd like to share or have us list, please let us know!
Pool Table Slate
Slate is the surface of choice for pool table beds. Typically slate is made up of mica, quarts, clay, and other minerals. Most high-quality billiard slate comes from Italy, Brazil, and China. Italian slate is a softer slate, well-suited for machining. Chinese slate is typically a little harder, and Brazilian harder still. Softer slates are more flexible, harder slates are more brittle. All three of these types of slate are well-suited for billiards. Some manufacturers will tell you that Italian slate sweats less, but in today's controlled-air environments, this is of much less importance that it was a hundred years ago.
Slate should be about 1" thick and be supported by a frame at least that thick, preferably much thicker. Better quality tables have supports that run under the slate bed both from side-to-side and end-to-end.
Regulation slate is cut into three separate pieces, but many slate companies produce single-piece slabs with curtouts for home tables.
Here are some of the slate companies that provide billiards table slate:
Carlo Giuffra Ardesie S.R.L.
Garbarino & Cuneo S.N.C.
Rasson Slate Co., Ltd,
Billiard Table Felt
Billiard table felt for high-traffic tables is typically 21-24 ounce woven wool or a wool-nylon blend (called baize) . The surface finish on baize is typically of a lesser quality than that of wool-based felt, so it is usually not used on the professional circuit. Because this fabric is soft and thick, felt provides slower play than high quality pool cloth which is usually made from a napless weave, such as worsted wool. The popular size of pool table felt is 7 foot, 8 foot and 9 foot but other sizes are available.
Pool Felt has some good information on selecting felt in their Felt Buyers Guide and their Felt Installation Guide.
DB Entertainment also has a billiard fabric installation guide here: www.DB Entertainment.com.
If you're a sports fan and you want a pool table felt that's special, Sideline MVP has felt with your football or baseball team's logo imprinted on it.
Billiard Table Rails and Cushions
Billiard rails are made from two parts - a wooden frame and a rubber cushion. Higher quality tables typically use K66 cushions, a term that refers to the shape and angle of the cushion. Cushions are usually made of synthetic or vulcanized rubber and covered with felt. Lakeside Billiard Supply is one company that sells billiard table rails and bumper ends. How Stuff Works has some excellent photos of rails and cushions under construction.
Pockets for home tables come in a variety of styles, from fringe to shield and plastic to leather. Several related pieces may also be needed, such as pocket irons and iron covers. Most are simple catch pockets, but you can also install your own ball return system. Thompson Sporting Goods has a pretty good selection.
The wood you use for your table is largely a matter of personal choice. Remember that the wood makes probably the largest visual statement about your table, followed closely by the felt. Considering the level of work that you're putting into it and the quality of the other components, the wood should be of a high quality, particularly in the areas that are visible. Even where not visible you should use solid hardwoods to ensure that your table will support the slate and whatever else may end up on top of your table.
Regardless of the components you use or the style of your table, enjoy yourself; this is likely to be one of your most enjoyable projects ever!
Pool Table Covers
You'll need to protect your pool table with a cover. We don't like to admit it but foreign objects like to collect on our pool tables when not in use such as dust. On ocassion something really strange gets placed on your table like coats, pets and kids belongings. It is imperative to have a cover to protect your investment and give you piece of mind. Premium Billiard Table Cover from MizerakTM