Pool Tables: A hard rectangular surface bounded by rubber cushions on all sides with 6 pockets. That sounds simple enough but it took a few changes to get there. Here is a little history.
Billiard tables were first thought to have originated as early as the 1600's in France. Things get a little murky after that though. Pool tables (with pockets) are best traced to the early 1800's in England. It is believed the outdoor croquet game was brought inside and lifted off the floor. They put legs on the wood playing surface. Balls of course were rolling off the edge of the table. This was a problem. They then installed wood borders which were inconsistent yet players still learned to use them for bank shots. Wool table cloth and rubber cushions came soon after and the pool table as we know it today really has not changed since 1845.
Pool Tables have been constructed in many different ways. Six legs, four legs, eight legs. Seven foot, eight foot, even ten feet long years ago. Most tables use slate as a playing surface though some starter tables may use a hardened fiberboard or other composite material.
How do I choose a Pool Table?
The 2 most important elements of table construction are;
The Materials used. Ideally the best materials include 100% solid hardwood, no wood veneers, processed particle board, laminates or other artificial materials anywhere in the table. The slate should be no less than an inch thick. Most tables with slate under 1 inch thick will not be stable and will move when you bump in to the table. The finish of the table is very important. Cheap polyurethane finishes tend to cloud up over time. Try to find hand rubbed oil or polished varnish finishes.
Construction Techniques. Almost all manufacturers tout their construction methods. Many are very good and some not so good. Things to look for are the use of dado joints in the base and slate bed. These are much stronger than brackets and screws, and result in the base being more of a solid piece of wood. There should be hardwood cross members and a center beam for the slate bed. Look for heavily reinforced wood around the leg mounting system. This is critical to the overall stability of the table. It is easy to find a poorly built table. Just bump in to it a few times and watch if it moves or vibrates. If it does this now when it is new, it will get worse. Avoid that table.
Table Choices. It is important that you choose a table that fits your needs. How will you use it? Is it just for the kids? Is it a featured piece of furniture? What size should I buy? These are all good questions to ask yourself and your family. A starter table for the kids can be bought for as little as $500. Furniture grade tables range from $2,500 all the way up to $10,000. Measure the playing area where you can place a table and compare it to this Room Dimensions Chart.
Making a pool table purchase is a big investment. If you do your homework that investment can last a lifetime. Check our library for other helpful articles on pool tables and game room items.