Cue tip replacement
Save some money next time you need a new cue tip (Cue Tip, not Q-Tip!)
How to move and setup a pool table
A story of how NOT to move a table, followed by the proper way.
More than you ever need to know about pool cues.
The Pool Cue: A sum of its parts
Biology 101: Dissection of the pool cue
Pool Table Cloth
Not the kind you see at Pizza Hut...
Room Size Considerations
We'd love to sell anyone a table, but you might run into some space problems in a one room apartment.
These aren't furry little rodents...
Quite a job to tackle, better left to the professionals.
Cue Tip Replacement
- Sand off the top of the cue and ferrule to remove all the old glue. A cue top sander is used to get a square and flat surface.
- Measure to be sure the new tip is as large or larger than the shaft in diameter. A tip that is too small will not work
- Sand off the bottom of the cue tip to provide a good clean bonding surface. This is best done with 120 grit sandpaper, but any grit will possibly work OK.
- Put a glue drop on top of the clean ferrule bonding surface.
- Put the sanded cue tip surface on the glue drop, and with a light swirling pressure to get rid of air bubbles, cause the tip and the ferrule end to come together, with the tip centered as well as possible.
- Clamp the parts together with a cue clamp, and leave for a sufficient time for the glue to dry. It is a good idea to hang the cue in such a manner as to avoid cue warpage. (cuetip.gif)
- Shape the sides of the cue tip
Now that the cue is glued and dry, it is time to finish the job. The first thing to do is to remove any excess glue, and to shape the sides of the tip if necessary. This is done easiest with 120 grit sandpaper, but the guys years ago used to stand the cue on its tip, and cut around the ferrule with cutting strokes straight down using their trusty pocket knife. You can do whatever feels better.
The thinking here is to get the sides of the tip to exactly match the size and curvature of the sides of the ferrule. If the tip overhangs the ferrule, the cue will feel hollow when you shoot pool.
- Shape the top of the cue tip
After shaping the sides of the cue tip, it is time to shape the top of the cue tip. A cue tip needs to be rounded to the curvature of a nickel stood on end. This is accomplished best with a cue tip shaper as illustrated below. This function accomplishes two purposes. First it shapes the tip to allow good shot control, and second it roughens the cue tip surface to make holding chalk possible.
How to move and setup a pool table
Typical story..........JACK GETS DAD'S TABLE............LET'S MOVE IT
Let us assume for a start, that dad just gave you (JACK) the table in his basement, and that you have the whole football team ready to help you move it...........all it costs is a keg of beer, and a little gas. NO BIG PROBLEM....one guy on each leg. two in the middle and lets go. UP SHE COMES......CRACK.....DOWN SHE GOES, lets run damage control...........oh no!........broke the slate, and the dang thing landed on Joe's toe, and he's out for the season..................TYPICAL
Well JACK, lets fix this thing. The team looks at what's left, and half a keg later, someone notices that the table seems to be bolted together.......and it has to move today, so why not? Out come the wrenches and screwdrivers, and its surprising how many parts are all over the place fairly quickly..........big split in the slate but that is another problem. Fortunately all the screws and bolts went in a box, and nothing else broke.
Now the team moves the table to the trucks...... up the stairs, out the door, down the back steps, across the yard, and down the street. Now we have a new problem........that tackle, who presses 350 pounds, just pulled every muscle he ever had in his back picking up that 120 pound slate like a hero.........TWO out for the season!
IT GOT HERE............LET'S SET IT UP........HOW LARGE IS THE PLAY AREA NEEDED?
Now JACK, you can do anything,,,,,,quarterback, Internet genius, pool whiz, grew up working in a garage and playing in dad's carpentry shop........never seen anything you can't fix..........let's go!
MOVE THE TABLE PARTS TO THE AREA TO BE USED
JACK and the team finally get the remnants into the bonus room. First to figure out where to put it. The room is huge, but the center column and wall slopes could be a problem.........and the bar, those couches to pass out on, and the poker table for Wednesday night when we are not playing pool, have to go somewhere.............
FIGURE OUT EXACTLY WHERE THE TABLE WILL LIVE
JACK to the Internet........we have a 9 foot table.......a link on the H.E.A.D.S. INC. homepage says we need a 14 foot by 18 foot space.........that column is going to be a problem, but we will get a short cue from H.E.A.D.S. INC. to fix that little problem...........and we will need that custom made light H.E.A.D.S. INC. can have made, with the team's name and colors. Two problems down, and after a little work on that old drafting program, we finally got a FLOOR PLAN on how to place this table within an inch, along with all the other stuff in the room. That old sofa is a little too close to the table on one side...........but Jack plans to shoot over it, and Joe better duck if he doesn't want his head to hurt like his toe!
ALL THE PARTS ARE HERE.........WE KNOW WHERE IT GOES.........SET-UP THE BASE FRAME
Dad's table is a real neat antique. Does anybody remember where all the parts go? It's a good thing JACK had the whole team, because they were able to bring the base frame out in one piece, and it was heavy! Better check it though.........it might have twisted somehow. JACK directs the team to lug the base frame to the exact place that is shown on his floor plan. The electrician down the block, will have to come over to do the wiring for the light, exactly over the table, later.
ROUGH LEVEL THE TABLE........THEN BE SURE THE BASE FRAME IS SQUARE AND FLAT
The floor under the rug isn't real level, or the base frame is warped or something......it rocks a little. Jack looks at it.........no big deal, its nothing but an engineering marvel to hold that heavy slate. To kill the rocking we need something the weight won't compress to hold it up. Jack has a piece of scrap steel just a little smaller than the bottom of the leg...........a quick fix! Now it does not rock anymore........but is the baseframe square and straight? George the team center is the math genius........idea........measure DIAGONALLY from inside the corner pocket holes to see if the measurements match, sort of like he and his Uncle Mike did when they built the carpentry shop out back........luck is getting better, the measurements match, the baseframe is square! Now Jack is worried about how flat and straight the top is. JACK figures the old eyeball is going to have to do it on straight, but his dad's old level might find any high or low spots. Jack's luck holds, no high or low spots, so the BLOCK PLANE it took 2 hours to find will not be needed.......
ITS PLACED.......IT'S FLAT......ITS SQUARE.....WE THINK ITS STRAIGHT......TIME TO LEVEL IT
JACK pulls out his dad's old 4 foot BRICKMASON'S LEVEL.......it has always worked before........its time to level the baseframe. The guys at the pool room are always complaining about the tables that the amusement company worked on not being level......what could they be doing wrong????? Back to the Internet to ask. H.E.A.D.S. INC. responds that table leveling is super critical, they suggest using non-compressible PLAYING CARDS under the legs to level the baseframe, and cautions that a single playing card's thickness can throw the roll of a ball...........no problem, playing cards are cheap! What is now a problem, is that the beer ran out, and looking at the level is tough. Putting the playing cards under the table legs to level the baseframe is easy, but getting it perfect takes longer than Jack expected......time to call it a day.............
DAY 2.......... LIFTING THE SLATE..........SAFETY FIRST
Jack is up early today, but the rest of the team is a little hung over.........After the problems encountered with the move earlier, Jack decides to give a little safety and lifting talk to the team before they start work today. Jack also gets the weight lifting belts out before his first job.......lifting the slate and placing it on the baseframe.
PLACE THE SLATE ON THE BASE FRAME SLIGHTLY APART.......FIX ANY PROBLEMS
The three pieces are placed on the baseframe just slightly apart. This is an antique table and has brass pins that allow the slate to fit together and stay flat.........but we have a problem. The slate cracked when the team lifted it yesterday..
JACK to the Internet to find out what to do.........H.E.A.D.S. INC. says a new slate is a very expensive alternative for an antique table...........so how badly is it cracked?.........Jack replies that the crack looks like a scallop shell, broken out right over a dowel pin.......H.E.A.D.S. INC. then asks if the dowel pins are bent, and will the slate join properly when the slates slide together.........Jack determines after testing, that the pins are OK, and that the slate slides together allright..........H.E.A.D.S. INC. suggestion for the scallop crack.........for a small area, fill with PLASTER OF PARIS, for a larger area, the cracked area can be filled with AUTOMOTIVE BODY FILLER and SANDED level.........Jack did not work in a garage for nothing, Out comes the automotive body filler, and the problem is fixed........it only takes about 3 hours. Luck holds and the patch is perfectly flat with the rest of the slate after sanding, and none of the filler stuck to the other slate because of the RELEASE AGENT that Jack thought to use.
SCREW DOWN THE SLATE........AND CORRECT TO BE SURE IT IS FLAT
Jack and the team get out the huge wood screws and the BIG SCREWDRIVER. The first thing is to slide the three pieces together, which has to be done very carefully with the dowel pins. The next problem shows up when Andy does not get his finger out of the way fast enough........Jack was on one end, and Joe was on the other, and when the slates started moving it worked faster than expected...nothing but a smashed finger, Andy will be o.k. in a day or two. The old screw holes don't line up either, but that is what you have a team for. It takes a little moving but finally the holes line up also. The screws go in the holes and screw down, but the table top is not flat.........back to the Internet for a fix. H.E.A.D.S. INC. says that SLATE SHIMS that look like small wood wedges are used to get the slate flat. To put them in Jack needs to back off the screws about a turn, put the shims between the slate and the base frame and then tighten up the screws........all to be done very carefully.
TIGHTEN THE SCREWS AND RE-LEVEL THE TABLE
Jack is in luck, the SLATE SHIMS that were used before are still in good shape. He and the team very carefully tap in the shims, and re-tighten the screws. Jack does not have a STRAIGHT EDGE that H.E.A.D.S. INC. suggested, but using some very tight string and the level set at an angle has done the best he can do. The dowel pins were supposed to do this job, and with just a little adjustment it seems to be real flat now. Jack now wonder's whether to fill the cracks or level the slate.........he decides to level the slate first so that all the moves are completed before filling the cracks, which could break out. Jack gets out the PLAYING CARDS again, and only needs two to get the table perfectly level according to his old BRICKMASON'S LEVEL.
FILL IN THE CRACKS BETWEEN THE SLATES
Jack is in a real quandary, what to fill the cracks with. The old guy down at the pool room........you know the one that sits in the back, and gets his drinks out of the pint he keeps in the bag in his pocket......keeps saying that BEESWAX is the only thing to use.......but somebody tried it last year, and they got something that looked like a grease stain right over the joints showing through the cloth.........Jack decides to stick with PLASTER OF PARIS. Jack watched the process done earlier. Jack mixes the plaster of Paris in a DIXIE CUP about half full. Jack gets the plaster mixed real well with no lumps and about the consistency of buttermilk. Jack pours the liquid plaster of Paris down the crack very carefully, not putting on any more than he has to. The plaster of Paris takes about 10 minutes to dry. Jack then takes some 120 GRIT SAND PAPER and sands off the excess without putting any more pressure/sanding on the slate than he can help.....Jack knows the sand paper will also cut the slate if this job is done improperly...........
DO YOU FILL THE SCREW HOLES OR NOT?
Joe wants to fill the screw holes, but Jack reminds him that the holes were not filled before, because they were under the rails, and the balls could not get near them. Joe then mentions a table he saw with holes out in the center of the slate. Well, that is not a problem with this table, and we don't want any holes out in the middle of the table anyway..........Jack decides it is time to cover the table. Jack pulls out his book ("MINNESOTA FATS" ON POOL) and reads the section on attaching the cloth.
COVER THE TABLE
Jack is really sharp today. There is a lot of dust on the table that has to be cleaned up first. Out comes a HAND VAC that gets up most of the dust, then Jack gets the team to wipe the whole top with an old TOWEL to get up anything remaining. The old cloth is checked real well, and then it is shaken real well, to get off any dust or dirt it may have picked up during the move. Minnesota Fats says to use TACKS to attach the cloth, but Jack just got a new ELECTRIC STAPLE GUN.........this looks like an ideal time to try it out. Jack gets all of the team to help with this job......it is really tough to reattach the cloth that came on the table because it was trimmed so closely when it was put on the first time. Jack is just glad the guys did not rip the cloth when it was removed, and he had a pair of PLIERS to help pull the cloth when he needed them.
REPLACE THE RAILS AND THE POCKETS
Jack gets the team to set the rails on the table where they go. Very carefully the team fits the pockets into the holes and somehow gets the rails back into position to bolt back to the slate. This is an antique table which bolts into the narrow edge of the slate. Jack is real glad his dad had what he called a T-BOLT WRENCH. The screws are very unusual with two holes on the top. Without that special wrench this job would be real tough. Joe is still talking about how much easier it is to put together a newer table that just bolts through the slate from the bottom, but the job gets done after awhile. Jack then sees a bunch of extra screws that he forgot to put in to hold the pockets..........loosen the rails, put in the screws, and retighten the rails.
PUT ON THE APRONS
Jack then screws on the apron covers. The job is done for now, except to attach the pocket leather to the bottom of the pocket holes. Jack uses TACKS to attach the leather to the area under the pocket holes.
THE JOB IS DONE
Normal shop materials / Hardware store
- Truck / anything will do, but you need the area to move large pieces
- shipping quilts etc. to protect parts in shipment
- tie down straps for shipment of materials
- weight lifters or movers back brace, and steel toed shoes for safety
- level / a brickmasons level will do great. We have found these to stay straight longer in rough usage
- 12 inch hand level
- 2 x 12 foot tapes / or longer is OK, (you often need two for exact room location work)
- standard folding carpenters rule / a yardstick will work too
- screwdrivers / assorted Phillips and flathead
- plug-in hand drill: 3/8 inch will work with assorted drill bits and screwdriver points - necessary
- cordless drill/screwdriver is great to have
- hand stapler / electric helps with 1/4 inch or 3/8 inch staples
- standard tool box 1/2 inch wrench set and open end wrench set
- paper cups / to mix plaster of Paris
- drop cord for tools
- knife or scissors / (to cut cloth,) a razor blade carton opener is standard
- regular claw hammer
- large rubber hammer
- clamps / several will help at times if you do not have a lot of hands
- tack hammer
- hand vacuum cleaner
- a few pencils
- chalk for marking cloth
- masking tape / for marking table position and holding things
- large framing square
- combination square
- hand block plane / a small one is fine
- pliers / to pull staples, several types would help
- roll of contractors twine / for finding the spot location
- several clean towels / all kinds of uses
- Ratchet bit brace / for antique table screws (can use several hand drill types)
Specialized Pool Table Tools
- Antique T-bolt wrench (used in a ratchet bit brace or hand drill)
- a 4 foot or longer straight edge / expensive
- staple puller / upholstery device that looks sort of like a screwdriver, but sharp
- small sanding block made with 120 grit sandpaper / all kinds of uses
- featherstrip block / special block for installing featherstrips
Standard Materials / Hardware Store
- staples / 1/4 inch or 3/8 inch for your staple gun
- plaster of Paris / to fill cracks
- sandpaper / 60 girt, 120 grit, and higher if possible.....
- Old English / scuff cover to hide a multitude of sins
- deck of playing cards / for leveling legs (leg shim material)
- tacks or small screws for pocket leathers
- spray windex or similar for clean-up
- body filler for cracked or gouged slates (not a recommended procedure)
- contact adhesive / to glue cushions (x-33 is standard)
- extra nuts, bolts and screws if possible / you never have enough...and they get lost etc.
Specialized Pool Table Materials
- spots / for marking the rack position
- table cloth / bought by the running yard in all kinds of colors
- spray pool table adhesive / specially designed to glue cloth to slate
- slate shims / small wedges made out of hardwood for adjusting slates during slate straightening
- slate epoxy / for gluing a cracked slate ( not a recommended procedure)
- leg shim material / comes in many forms
- pool table furniture wax / for table and rails when finished or oiled
Table construction Materials / CALL H.E.A.D.S. INC.
- leather pockets, irons, pocket components, bullion or fringe etc.
- plastic pockets / in a multitude of shapes and colors.
- rail sights / made out of plastic or mother of pearl, in a number of shapes and sizes
- rubber cushions / in several sizes, materials, and shapes
- cushion pads / sold in sets usually
- corner miters / made in plastic, or metal, or wood.
- pocket liners, gulleys, ball boxes etc. for gulley and coin-op tables.
- coin mechanisms / for coin-op tables.
- coin-op cushions / special designs for different tables
- featherstrips / used to hold the cloth on the top of the cushions
- table components and parts / sometimes available
- leg levelers / used on some tables.
- bridge and triangle hooks / several different styles
- pool table slate / single piece for coin-ops, or multi- piece for regular tables.
Better question might be, what is wrong with it? If the problem is speed, it could be the cushions, cloth, installation, or construction problems. If the cushions are bad, the cushion glue joints broken, or the rail assembly is loose, the balls do not bounce right. If the cloth is too loose, or improperly installed, or if the cloth fasteners have pulled out, the ball will roll funny or slow. If the ball jumps around or deflects in a roll, it is possibly due to trash under the cloth, or the slate being broken, or the slate not being flat and level. If the ball rolls crooked when going slow, the table is probably not level. Other than these obvious problems, you probably need to buy a new table, but get a good quality one this time.
Why doesn't H.E.A.D.S. INC. sell a non-slate table?......If it is not slate, it is not a pool table. Non- slate tables, regardless of who makes them, are toys, not to be confused with the real thing, and there are absolutely no exceptions. They do make good worktables in the shop, if your tools roll a lot............
Try H.E.A.D.S. INC. If we do not know, we will try to refer you to another source if possible.
Currently it is the Billiard Congress of America (BCA). This is true for both home and tournament tables.
A backed slate is a slate that has a wood backing glued to the bottom of the slate to give the installers a place to put in tacks or staples to attach the cloth. In antique tables it also served a purpose in allowing the manufacturer to flatten the surface. Some modern tables do not have backed slate, which forces the installer to glue the cloth on with pool table spray adhesive.
The older all wool cloth was directional. Directional cloth is only brushed in one direction in order to maintain the knap of the cloth. Newer styles of cloth are non-directional due to the way the knap is produced when the cloth is made. The older directional cloth is seldom used today due to cost.
Simonis cloth is the cloth that has been used on Snooker and Billiard tables in Europe for years. It will cause a pool table to play a lot faster, and has been used in this country for several years now. This cloth is not for every table, and we have been asked to remove a new Simonis cloth because the players found it to be a problem. Be sure this is what you want before you order it, because it is both more expensive, and far more difficult to put on properly.
Most tables have the table cut into 3 pieces to make it easier to move. There are single piece slates used on some tables, but I have heard of installers who cut such slates before trying to move them. We absolutely do not recommend this procedure for anyone! Single piece slates are the normal style used on almost all coin-op tables. To move a coin-op, you remove the legs, and the ball box, then turn the table on its side on a special device call a "coin-op mover". This operation should not even be considered by anyone but a professional with the proper equipment. On some older tables, and many larger billiard and snooker tables, there may be 3 or 4 or 5 pieces of slate. We run into all kinds of things in the field at times.
On used and antique tables there is no blue book price list like the one for pool cues. Perhaps someone will develop such a book in the future, but there is nothing in the field at this point.
A pool table is designed to be a stable, level, game field. Those things that go into the table construction that make it more stable or a better game field improve the table. This may sound silly, but anything that makes a table stronger or heavier will improve stability. Higher quality items used in table construction like cloth, cushions,or pockets will improve the game field. Whether a table plays fast or slow is usually a factor of how the table cloth is pulled, although the type of cloth, cushions, and to a limited extent how the table is made, can influence ball speed.
This question involves a lot of different aspects of table construction and cosmetic improvement. Most of what makes a table more expensive starts with the quality and quantity of the materials used to construct the table. At a certain point the materials are basically the same, and the price increases due to the increasing amount of decoration, expensive material, handwork in the factory etc. With regards to antique values, there may be other variables due to age, style, and circumstances.
When the cloth is torn, picked badly, or worn excessively, it is reasonably obvious that a cloth change is needed, but we replace a lot of cloth for cosmetic reasons.
The cushion rubber can dry rot with age, get harder or softer etc., but on average we find more problems in the field with the cloth not being pulled properly, or the cushion glue being broken. If someone puts his big rear end on the rail, it will depress the cushion and cause the glue joint to break....that is why you do not sit on a table. The biggest group of cushion problems we see, seem to come from imported cheap tables with cheap rubber cushions.
Pool Que Questions
The best cue protection is a good case, with a hard case probably being more of a protection than a soft case, although most pros use soft cases. The shaft is what plays pool, so anything that can be done to protect the shaft is a benefit. If the case will get bumped much, it might be good to get a set of joint protectors that screw onto the joint ends to add that little extra protection. If all else fails, it is a good idea to buy an extra shaft.....Two cues won't hurt either......
This question has a lot of answers, and we have a lot of materials that come from numerous suppliers to do just this kind of thing. A caution / wet things will warp cues, and sandpaper will grind them down to pencil sticks......A book could be written on this subject alone. You can get dirt off with windex.....put it on a paper towel, not the cue, and get it off quickly. Clorox can get out really nasty stains, but it will warp a cue too. If you like a fluffy smooth cue, some people use very fine grit sandpaper on the shaft, but what you are doing is reducing the diameter, and probably cutting it crooked. If you like a smooth slick shaft, you can burnish with a piece of paper like a grocery bag, but the heat created by burnishing can warp a cue if not carefully done. For a really slick shaft you can use a shaft wax, but you need to know what you are doing to use it properly....read the instructions well. We provide the service of cleaning and doing whatever is needed for cue shafts, and it may be cheaper than a ruined shaft.
This is a job that anyone can do, but with the development of custom cues, it is not something that you want to do unless you know what you are doing, and you have the equipment you need. This reference is to a drawing we did showing the proper equipment and procedure for preparing (sanding) the shaft and tip prior to gluing, and the proper way to use a glue clamp. There are several glue materials on the market at this point that work well for various tip and ferrule materials. We are forced to use different glues in-house to compensate for the multitude of materials that different cue makers use. The other trick is selecting the right tip......and there are a lot of tips now!!!!!!
This was once an easy question.....now it is as tough as they get. There are soft, medium, and hard tips....and then very hard tips. Most custom manufacturers use a hard or very hard tip. Most novice players scratch with a hard tip.....for a lot of reasons. I would recommend a medium tip for a beginner, and listen to a lot of grief from most pros. The choice of tips is huge now, with new tips coming out every year. Tips are made of everything from buffalo hide to plastic. The best tip for the individual is the one that does what he needs best, but there are trade-offs.
- Soft tip holds chalk real well / a soft tip dents easily and can mess up the next shot
- Medium tip is a little forgiving about not chalking regularly, and for some people holds a ball well
- Hard tip does not hold chalk well, but does not dent / most pros use a hard tip.
- Hard tip can be pressed to reduce mushrooming and denting if desired
- A very hard tip is available, but is more expensive / usually buffalo hide from France.
- A plastic tip is available, but I have never seen a serious player use it yet.
This question has several right answers, but a lot depends on what you are doing, and how you are doing it. For the average player who might want to be able to do emergency repairs at home or in the field, you will need to measure the ferrule diameter in millimeters (ranging from 10 mm. to 14mm), and then buy the proper size tip for your cue. For someone doing commercial tip repair, it is normal to buy the largest tip available and then cut it down to size for the cue you are retipping (with a lathe).
We use a micrometer or a tip gauge. A tip gauge looks like a credit card with different size holes in it. Most cue tips are available in sizes 11 mm through 14 mm in whole sizes, and some in half sizes. Cue tips usually come in boxes of 50, but H.E.A.D.S. Inc. will sell them in any quantity desired. To get odd size tips, and sometimes to make them fit properly, it is often necessary to sand the sides of the tip to exactly fit the ferrule. This is a job that must be done very carefully, or the ferrule or shaft can be damaged. In cue tip selection it is much better to be too large, than too small; especially if you are sloppy at gluing one on.
The drawing shows how to use an inexpensive standard issue tip shaper. There are numerous other devices designed to do this same job. The object is the same. The idea is to put a degree of curvature on the tip to allow a greater degree of direction control. A flat tip is worthless. If you want a comparison, use a grinder to flatten out a hammer head, and see how many crooked nails you get.
The first thing is to get the correct shape as above, and then to maintain the shape with any of several devices designed for that job. The cue tip will flatten out and possibly mushroom as you play with it. This needs to be cured first. To cause a hard tip to hold chalk better, there are a number of devices designed to put a texture on the tip.....sort of like punching small holes in it. H.E.A.D.S. Inc. has a number of devices for this purpose, with most fitting in a pocket easily.
Knicks and dents occur, and to a limited extent can be removed. This is work better left to a professional, but the same things that warp a cue, can occasionally be used very carefully to remove dents........heat and moisture. A new shaft costs about $100.00 or more, so be careful......
This is another thing that is a major problem to many, but a real tricky thing to fix. As in getting out dents, the things that warp cues will bend them, but the question is how much. H.E.A.D.S. Inc.has worked with this issue for years, but there is no sure cure. Heat, moisture, and pressure will warp or bend a cue. We will not guarantee any work we do in this regard, but occasionally we luck up, other times we throw the shaft away.
Do you want to match what you have, or do you want something different? The drawing in this reference shows most of the ferrules that we keep in stock. There are a lot of ferrules and ferrule materials out there, including brass ferrules not shown in our drawing. A house cue will normally have a fibre ferrule or plastic of some type. Most custom manufacturers use a special ferrule of some type. You can put most ferrules on any type of stick, but the installation for each type of ferrule may be a little different. It is important to note that the ferrule will change the hit of the cue (a lot in some cases). Another note, if you decide to buy a ferrule, is to get the correct cue shaft diameter. Some ferrules come in various diameters, and some ferrules come in one diameter, and have to be cut to match the diameter of the shaft. To make this a little more difficult, the tenon diameters (center holes) and lengths also vary a lot.
Simple answer is to remove the tip, sand off the glue, and pull it off if it is not glued on. Before you get out the pliers, remember that the new shaft will be about $100.00 or more. If you do not break the shaft, just mess up the tenon, that will shorten the shaft by whatever length it takes to fix what you mess up etc. This is not a job to be undertaken lightly, and may well end up costing far more than a repair shop will charge to do the job properly. In our shop we usually cut the ferrule off with a cue lathe.
This is a job better left to a professional, but shade tree mechanics are everywhere. The first job is to remove the old ferrule, or to cut a new tenon. This is work best done on a lathe, but the illustration shows the equipment we sell for this purpose, and there are several other devices on the market. If this process is not done carefully, the only thing to do is to cut the shaft and start over with a new tenon and ferrule if need be. This is very close tolerance work, and will require a micrometer of some sort, to get as close as you need to be. Normal house cues generally have the ferrule held on with a pressure fit. Some custom cues have the ferrule glued on, or screwed on.
It might be because you broke it, or the joint is loose. The more likely reason is because the tip mushroomed, and is wider than the ferrule. We see this a lot. The solution is to sand or cut the tip down so that it is the same width as the ferrule. A broken cue or loose joint takes longer, and is not something the average player should mess with.
A better question is why not use a broom handle? The cue is shaped to make it easy to shoot. A jointed cue is made to make it easier to carry, easier to put in a case, easier to take care of, and easier to keep straight. The various cuts and different woods in the butt are there to add cushion to the shot......try a broom handle and see the difference. The shaft has a ferrule to keep it from splitting, and a tip to prevent excessive ball slippage. Weight screws and weight inserts (under the wrap) are there to aide balance and feel. The butt rubber is there to protect the cue when you make a bad shot, and bang the cue on the floor in frustration etc. To make this even more complicated, there are a multitude of variances for each of the above features.........not to mention cost.
A good question with no clear answer. With a custom made cue, it is often best to send it to the manufacturer. For simple things like tip replacement on inexpensive cues, there are a multitude of places to get the work done. For more complicated activity it is best to get a qualified shop. You will know how good the shop is, when you play with the cue after a repair. Just be glad a cue is not an airplane, perhaps you won't loose anything more than your money.
Someone might have answered this years ago, but an answer to this now would get me flamed for sure. We plead the fifth amendment as we look for a deep hole to hide in. The only comment that is safe, is to say that there are now so many differences in quality cues, that there is a tremendous amount of variance for the buyer to consider. Look at the following:
- type of shaft taper and construction....tip / ferrule / taper length / wood / finish / feel / hit
- balance point
- type of joint / metal to metal Vs. wood to wood, makes a big difference in feel
- weighting and weight adjustment features
- appearance, finish, color, feel, wrap, smoothness
- reputation of the manufacturer, where was it made, who made it.......
- warranty, service, replacement parts, resale value
- does it make you feel good just to pick it up, a lot of a cue is your mental attitude.
Years ago this might have been an easy question. Today anything goes, including diamonds, woods of all types, plastics, metals, leather, string, etc. The primary wood in this country for the shaft is hard rock maple, but in Europe Ashe is the typical choice, and in the Orient they use Ramin wood. In the future there seems to be a move to plastics, but it will probably take a long time to get accepted by most pros, if ever.
A parts schematic. If you need a part, figure out what it is called, and give us a call. Most of this stuff is not on the website, but we can get most parts of a cue or table that you may need.
A brass ferrule is often found on European snooker or billiard cues that have particularly small shaft diameters that need the extra support that metal gives. A lot of these shaft diameters are about 10 mm, which is close to the average tenon diameter.
Irish linen is a string wrap wound around the butt in the general area of the butt where the rear hand holds the cue. The name came from the original Irish source for the string. The string used today comes in every color, and color combination imaginable.
The balance point is the point on the butt that will allow you to balance the cue when you hold it with one finger. The balance point will usually be near the top of the wrap, and will be more or less forward with different manufacturers. To adjust the balance point and overall weight of some cues, the manufacturers will use numerous alternatives, running from no weighting to removable weight screws. In commenting on balance point you will often hear comments like weight forward, or butt heavy, or balance neutral. This will normally refer to how the cue feels when you hold it just prior to a shot.......different strokes for different folks.
Look at that cue closer. You thought the cue was crooked when you looked down the shaft...huh? More likely what you are seeing is the taper. A Pro taper is the way the shaft is cut to be a fairly constant diameter for some distance down from the tip. This constant diameter will range from 6 inches to about 18 inches back from the tip. This taper makes the cue easier to hold while shooting, and allows the shaft additional flex when hitting a ball. There are a lot of opinions on what length of taper is best......you be the judge.
There is no big deal if you are using a soft or medium tip, but on a hard or very hard tip there is an adhesion problem that some chalks do better with than others. Try several before deciding what you will use in a tournament. The choice of chalk will make a difference in play.
Do not play with a tip that gets worn away to the point that you might potentially damage the ferrule or shaft. We do not have a gauge for this, but there should be some side to the tip showing above the ferrule. Replacing the ferrule is expensive, and a lot of ferrules will crack if the tip gets too thin.
Most cues are made of wood, need I say more? As with most wood products, a cue does not like water, or wet anything. Wood when subjected to heat extremes will bend, and this is most pronounced with heat, although cold does not help either. Extended pressure, even if light, will also bend wood after some amount of time. The jointed cue, the cue case, and normal reasonable care will go a long way towards combating these influences.
Typical causes for warpage are:
- putting the cue in the back window of a car......even in a case (heat from the sun)
- leaning the cue in a corner
- a cue getting left in the rain, or a flooded or damp basement (water)
- poor quality or improperly installed cue racks
- left on a table with the tip over the rail (pressure)
- not separating a two piece cue for storage.......
- not using a cue case.....
- when you do something stupid, or don't read the instructions, or you have a bad hair day...
- THE WORST.........Poor quality cues.....
The Cue: A Sum Of Its Parts
This page includes an image designed to show the various components of a cue in their raw form, as well as where they occur in a cue using typical custom cue constructions. The art work leaves a lot to be desired, but the idea is valid.
In case the lettering in the image is difficult to read, the parts of the cue from the top to the bottom are as follows
- fibre pad / sometimes used under a cue tip
- shaft / typically made out of hard rock maple, and normally cut with a "pro" taper which runs anywhere from 6 inches to 18 inches below the tip.
- the joint area / both the shaft and the cue butt can have decorative rings of plastic,
- joint collar / or a metal joint of various csnstructions where the two sections meet.
inserts / metal or plastic or threaded wood receivers for the -joint screw which can be in either the butt or the shaft. There are numerous designs for these devices, and the way they are installed.
- joint screws / metal or threaded wood constructions that join the cue butt and shaft. These can be installed in either the cue butt or shaft.
- joint screws or inserts as above
- the joint collar
- decorative rings
- the butt / wood construction normally often comprised of several pieces of wood fastened together
- inlay materials / all types of decorations including diamonds on a few cues. The normal material is some different color wood, paint, or multi prong construction. Sometimes the cuts go all the way through the cue, some decorations are purely cosmetic.
- the wrap / typically Irish Linen which is string wound tightly on the butt and normally glued on. The Irish linen string is available in a multitude of colors, and is usually only available in a roll as shown.
- weight and balance pins (not shown) / typically drilled through the butt and located under the Irish Linen wrap. These are usually sections of metal rod glued into the butt.
- decorative rings / these can be wood, plastic or metal.
- weight screw / goes up into the cue by way of a hole under the rubber bumper
- rubber bumper / various sizes and shapes.
- cue wax, and other materials
- various sand paper types
- various finish materials
- various glues for wood, Irish linen string, tips, special ferrules, etc.
- specialized cue building devices.
All of these parts are available from H.E.A.D.S. INC. These items are not in our catalogue of materials, and in the case of exotic woods or special materials, not always in stock, and may take a while to ship. Please e-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org> if you need any of these materials. There is a special page on ferrules in the FAQ section on Cues, and we have information on many of the tips available elsewhere.One interesting source of wood for the home craftsman is to cut up older cues.
Pool Table Cloth FAQ
What is pool table cloth?
Pool table cloth is a special product made exclusively for covering pool and billiard tables. The product is a woven wool product that comes in several configurations and a multitude of colors as described below.
Type and Attributes
1. Backed Cloth
2. Unbacked cloth
3. Directional and Non-directional
4. Simonis Cloth
1. Our cloth colors are listed by manufacturer under Options on the H.E.A.D.S. homepage.
2. There are numerous colors that we do not have listed yet. If you have a need that is not covered, drop us a note. Most of the time we can match colors as needed.
3. Color in pool table cloth is not an exact science, and we have seen significant variances from bolt to bolt in the same color designation by the same manufacturer.
4. Color of pool table cloth changes with age, usage, and exposure to sunlight.
Weight and Quality
1. Pool table cloth is characterized by weight. This weight is in ounces going from about 13 ounces for real cheap cloth, to about 22 ounces for the better grades of cloth.
2. Backed cloth comes in 19 ounce and 21 ounce varieties, but the backing material does not effect the cloth weight designation.
3. When looking at a cloth, the weight influences smoothness by virtue of how many little strings are woven together in an area of cloth. The higher the weight, the more strings there are, the smaller the strings are, and the tighter the weave pattern is. This may not be real obvious until you see an imported table with a real cheap cloth on it.......the individual strings are very big and visible in cheap cloth. H.E.A.D.S. INC has never dealt in real cheap cloth.
4. We normally order either 19 ounce or 21 ounce cloth, depending on what is available in the color we are looking for at the time, and whether we are buying a bolt length or a special cut length.
5. H.E.A.D.S. INC. has numerous colors of cloth in inventory. We feel that it is very important to only supply fresh cloth. For those colors that we do not use regularly, we special order cut lengths for special color or weight needs.
1. Installation of the cloth on the bed or rails of a table effects how the table will play a lot. How the cloth is installed also effects how long the cloth will last with regular play.
2. A real tight cloth installation will make the balls roll faster leading to people talking about a fast or tight playing table.
3. A loosely installed table cloth on the bed or rails will allow the cloth to last longer, but the balls roll slower. Loose cloth on the rails will effect how the balls bounce off the rails, both in terms of how far they go after rebounding, and in terms of the actual direction they will go after bouncing off the rails. The bounce off a real loosely covered rail can lead to complaints about dead rails, and questions about whether the cushion rubber is any good.
1. Different cloth types play in considerably different ways. How the table is made, how the cloth is installed, the quality of the cushions, and how well everything is put together will also influence play, and is sometimes blamed on the cloth.
2. How tight the cloth is pulled on the rails and bed has one of the greatest impacts on play, as discussed above.
3. Speed of play (or how tight the table plays) is influenced by the cloth type. It should be noted that although the professional players like a real tight table, a normal player may find a real tight table to be undesirable for a number of reasons. We recommend a normal unbacked cloth that is pulled in a normal fashion. We have actually been asked to remove super fast cloth from pool rooms, when the operator was taking a loss on the job.
Notes On Ordering Cloth
- Color from one bolt of cloth to another can vary a little / order enough to do the job. This is not something that can always be fixed, if you do not get enough the first time.
- Age and light can effect the cloth / it is good to check your source to be sure you are getting new high quality cloth. Some shops keep cloth in stock for 20 years, just to increase selection of color, or type. It is good to know who and what you are dealing with.
- It is always good to order a little extra in case of problems with rails, cutting problems, picks etc. You may also need a little extra for the pocket liner cloth that is glued in the slate pocket holes, to protect the bed cloth and the balls in play.
- Be careful with tearing cloth. At times the weave does not run true across the bolt.
- Before starting work, completely inspect the cloth. Most shops will only take back cloth the way it was sold. If you have cut it up for rails etc., you may have a problem if trying to return the material. In checking the cloth look at color, picks in the surface, and weave irregularities.
- Ordering cloth is tricky. Know what you are doing for sure, before you get started. There are different types and quality as well as colors of cloth. Play can be effected by cloth type and quality. Your decorator will go crazy if you pick the wrong color, and there is a heck of a difference between standard green and dark green!
- Most cloth has a top and a bottom side, if you don't know top from bottom, get help! One side has a knap.....that is the top. It is good to figure this out before cutting starts.
- To order cloth.....you need a color, a weight or type, possibly a manufacturer of choice, and a yardage amount. We can also precut the rail cloth and pocket liners if needed, (for a little more).
- The average cloth need for a rail is 6 inches in width, and enough length for the cushion length plus about 4 inches.
- Rail cloth is cut or torn from the cloth ordered (in total yardage) for a table job. It is a real good idea to be very careful of weave direction if you are tearing, and to be especially careful of any knicks in your rip direction,
- If you are ordering cloth with the rails already cut, it is important that your supplier cuts his rail cloth from the same bolt as the bed cloth. Some suppliers precut rail cloth, and the rail cloth does not come from the same bolt as the bed; which creates serious shade and texture problems.
- To cover the rails when using what is called backed cloth, you will have to remove the backing material to cover the rails. This material can usually be pulled loose. Backed cloth is normally only used on commercial and antique tables to extend the life, or to mask slate problems. We do not recommend backed cloth due to play problems (it normally plays slow).
- Be very careful removing the old cloth due to problems with rail and cushion damage, as well as broken featherstrips. If this is your first time, and you do not know what you are doing, you should dig through this site for other areas pertaining to rail covering and table construction. All we are covering here is cloth.
- Be sure to get the proper side up before starting work. This is a major problem for some people.
- Covering rails is not work for an amateur. How your table plays is very seriously impacted by how the rails are covered, the type and quality of the cloth, and how the rails are attached. This area of pool table work is the most difficult of all the areas of pool table maintenance.
- Be sure your bed cloth, and your rail cloth come off the same bolt so that they will match.
- It is important to have enough cloth to do this job properly. We usually try to have at least 4 inches of cloth overhang all the way around the slate in order to make pulling the cloth easier during attachment. Insufficient overhang is a major problem area when someone needs to put a previously used cloth back on the same table......not to mention rips, tears, spot alignment, pocket problems, etc.
- There are different types of cloth, and there are different attachment materials. Each of these need to be considered in ordering and sizing your cloth, as well as installing it. Some cloth stretches more or less than other cloth when you are working with it. If you are using staples or tacks you will need more overhang, than when you are gluing a cloth on a table.
- Be sure you have the knap side up before you get too far. This is a major problem for some people.
- Be sure your table construction is perfect before starting with the bed cloth. Recheck everything regarding the slate before starting work. The cracks should be filled, any holes or imperfections in the slate should be repaired, the slate must be both level and flat (a possible major problem), any screw holes that are not under the cushion area must be filled and flat, and be especially careful that the entire surface is absolutely clean before starting. Balls bouncing when rolling across the table comes from dirt under the cloth, cracks and holes improperly filled, or a surface that is not flat.
- Check both sides of the cloth for dirt, weaving imperfections, stains etc. before starting. This is a major problem area for even the best pool table mechanics.
- Be sure your pocket liner cloth matches the color of your bed cloth before starting. The pocket liner is a small strip of cloth glued into the pocket hole in the slate that protects the bed cloth from wear, and protects the balls when hitting the slate inside the pocket. Replacement of the pocket liners can be a problem if you do not have the proper spray glue. In replacing the liner strip if needed, be very careful that none of the liner strip is allowed to get above the slate surface, or it will interfere with the ball roll in the pocket area.
- Know what you are doing before starting a table covering job. This job is not tough to do, but it is very easy to mess up, especially around pocket openings. If you mess the job up, we will be glad to sell you more cloth.
- Pool table cloth is sometimes called felt. Pool table cloth is not felt, felt is a non- woven material used for Christmas decorations. Pool table cloth is a woven wool product that has a surface that has been specially prepared for pool play, with a knap surface on one side. Felt is cheap, pool table cloth will cost you through the nose.
- As with all other aspects of pool table construction, the Billiard Congress of America (BCA) sets all the rules that pertain to cloth used on a pool or billiard table.
Cloth color does not effect play, and each of the various manufacturers has a distinct set of color selections that do not necessarily match or interchange. For currently available color selections see our options section on the homepage. The standard green color was used for years because it is easy on the eyes, and because the various ball colors stand out well, even the green 4 ball.
Simonis Cloth Colors
The chart below shows colors available on our delivered tables. We keep #860 Standard Green in stock, but we can order any of the other colors. All Simonis cloth is $85.00 per yard.
If price is listed, it is the "last available" price and is subject to change without notice. Please e-mail email@example.com or call 1-800-275-4520 for additional information on availability, pricing, shipping, colors, weights, etc.
We do not accept online orders. If you would like to place an order, please do so with one of our sales representatives by calling 1-800-275-4520 between the hours of 10am to 6pm, Monday through Friday, and 10am to 12:30pm Saturday. Do not under any circumstances send any credit card information through e-mail.
Room Size Considerations
This is a picture to help in visualizing various attributes and choices in figuring out how to place your table within whatever room size configurations you may choose. Please note that this table was placed in a diagonal dimension to the walls, which illustrates alternative placements. Also shown here are other materials commonly found in home game rooms.
(approximate outside dimensions)
- 3' x 6'
- 3 1/2' x 7' A very common size in coin-ops
- 4' x 8' Standard table The norm for most home tables & coin-ops
- 4' x 8' OS Classic table The larger antique size used
- 4 1/2' x 9' Tournament size table
- 5' x 10' Snooker, Caroms, and true Billiards tables
- 6' x 12' Larger Snooker, Caroms, and true Billiards tables
A note needs to be made on this issue, due to a lot of mis-information in this regard. A regulation table is one that can be used for pool tournaments. The rules addressing tournament play are established by the BCA, and change on occasion. The truth is, that a tournament could be played on any size table in this list, if the tournament was sanctioned by the BCA. The BCA would probably consider the quality reputation of the manufacturer within the industry, more than the size of the table in determining whether to sanction a tournament on a particular size table.
Requirements for a regulation pool table include the table being twice as long as it is wide (3 1/2' x 7'; 4' x 8'; 4 1/2' x 9'). 1' framed 3 piece slate, and a table bed height from 29 1/4' to 31". See the Official Rules and Records Rule Book from the BCA for more specifications.
Table space requirements are a serious consideration, and we have had to bring tables back to the store due to someone selecting a table that was too big for a room. To address the problems associated with room size requirements, some people elect to use shorter cues for obstacles, or to get a table into an area slightly smaller than the area needed for a standard 57" cue. To address these issues the following minimum room sizes were worked out with the space requirements for shorter cue lengths figured out.
- Table Size Play Area 48" 52" 57" (Standard Cue)
- 3' x 6' table 32" x 64" 11' x 13 1/2' 11 1/2' x 14' 12 1/2' x 15' (standard cue)
- 3 1/2' x 7' table 38" x 76" 11 1/2' x 14 1/2' 12' x 15' 13' x 16'
- 4' x 8' standard table 44" x 88" 12' x 15 1/2' 12 1/2' x 16' 13 1/2' x 17' (standard cue)
- 4' x 8' Classic table 46" x 92" 12' x 16' 12 1/2' x 16 1/2' 13 1/2' x 17 1/2'
- 4 1/2' x 9' Tournament table 50" x 100" 12 1/2' x 16 1/2' 13'x 17' 14' x 18'
- 5' x 10' Snooker, Carom, or true Billiard Table 56" x 112"
- 15' x 19'
- 6' x 12' Snooker, Carom, or true Billiard table Need measurements on this one!
- 16' x 20'
PLEASE NOTE: These room sizes are considered minimums, and they do not shrink when you put a table in a room.
IF YOUR ROOM JUST DOES NOT STRETCH, try the living room. The preacher does not typically come by to visit every Sunday afternoon anymore.....We have seen a lot of originality in our years. We have put tables in tobacco barns with dirt floors, we have put tables in high-rise condos where we had to bring them up in elevators after taking the top out of the elevator, and we have put them into mobile homes. Nothing is impossible......the difficult is everyday, the impossible takes a little longer.....
It helps if the floor is strong enough to hold a table. A table typically weighs about 1000 pounds. We have seen instances where a floor had to be braced in order to carry the live load associated with a lot of people, furniture, and a pool table. For most construction floor support is not a problem. Another problem we have run into with garage conversions is the floor slope. We normally fix floor slope concerns with table leg shims, which in at least one case were over 3" tall.
We have not figured out how to keep a table level on a yacht, and yes we have had requests for pool tables on yachts. We understand that there are several on yachts. The table needs to be ordered while the yacht is under construction so that the legs can be bolted down, because 1000 pounds flying around in a bad storm may hurt someone. It is also good to build in cabinets for all of the accessory items like cues and balls. Note: the table for a yacht is basically the same as any other.
There are numerous questions that pop up concerning furniture around pool tables. The rails of a pool table are about 32 inches above the floor. Furniture less than 32 inches tall can be placed around the table, but it helps if enough room is left to walk around the table easily. It is not a good idea to place anything closer than about 30 inches.
The table can be found to match or compliment just about any room color, decor style, or other decorating need. Just about any table can be ordered with any number of cloth colors or pocket options. The table designers have been working for years to make tables fit into any environment. If one manufacturer does not have the table you need, just ask, there are probably 50 manufacturers before considering the many cabinet shops doing special constructions. One note...to be a pool table, it must have a slate top......
A table can be placed anywhere within a room. The only problem is that you should make up your mind exactly where you want it, because it is expensive to move. We make our living moving tables, and will tell you that you do not move one by getting someone with a strong back and a weak mind to shove it over a little. We have replaced a lot of broken slates for that reason at about $900.00 per trip. A proper table move will involve taking the table apart to protect the slate. An exact floor plan, or marks on the floor will aide the crew no-end when trying to place a table in a large room. If an option like a non-conventional angle is desired, placing something like masking tape on the floor along the desired axis of rotation is necessary to get the message across. It is also a good idea to have the person making the decisions present when a move or installation is made.
We sell lights, we do not put them up. A light over a pool table is usually centered over the table running with the long dimension of the table. Light suspension for hanging lights takes many forms, and normally comes with the fixture. Watch out for building codes that may specify how lights are to be handled, and what specifications may be required for lights hung during new construction and permitted remodeling activities. A caution is that not all pool table lights are UL approved. A second caution is that some building codes require all lights be hung over head high in new construction, which may not be what you want over a pool table. What may be required in new construction, is to leave a covered ceiling box, then to bring the electrician back after the house or game room has gone through inspection to hang the table light.
The atmosphere element of almost any game room is set by the lighting, probably more so than any other room in any house or commercial construction. You can ruin a gameroom with improper illumination quicker than with any other decorating mistakes. I have never seen a bright poolroom of any sort, that I had any use for....but that may just be a personal opinion. I live in an office without windows too.
A good rule of thumb: Hang the bottom of a light over a pool table about the height of the bridge of the nose of the average player. Most light manufacturers suggest 31" from table bed surface to the bottom of the light.
You want the light to shed light over the table surface, but not to light the whole room. You do not want the light to interfere with playing the game....either from being too low and being hit with cues, or being too high and getting in the eyes of the players when they look across the table. This makes the proper height some sort of magic act. A height of 68" works in my room, and I have seen lights hung from 62" to about 70". No, you cannot usually walk under a light, but then who walks through pool tables anyway? In some decor situations there are alternatives to hanging lights like recessed fixtures, lighted sky windows, track lights etc. My recommendation for any normal ceiling lights is to put a dimmer switch on some type of incandescent fixture. The only type of fluorescent fixture I have seen, that works well, is a suspended fixture.
A caution on pool table cloth.......it will fade in sunlight, and so does the gold bullion often attached to pockets. If at all possible keep a pool table out of direct sunlight whenever possible, as well as cues. Sunlight will dry out almost anything, and it will damage almost all pool related materials. With large windows, it is a good idea to always keep a table covered when not in use.
What is a ferrule and a tenon?
For those of you who never took a cue apart
How many kinds of ferrules are in use?
We do not know, but these are the ones we keep in stock
How do you put a tenon on your cue?
This is the old approved solution using a tenon machine that we sell.
The ferrule machine is good, and we used one for years, but there is a better solution. For the work we do in house, we use a special cue lathe.
As with a lot of better solutions, it costs a lot more!
Table Construction Fundamentals
A pool / billiards / snooker table is a three piece construction. The pieces are divisible easily in order that regular service work on the various components can be performed as needed. The various parts bolt together to allow fairly easy disassembly. The three basic parts are the base frame, the slate play surface, and the rail assembly. With normal construction there is no contact between all three parts at any point. The base frame functions as support for the slate. The slate is attached, or more exactly located onto the base frame by some number of slate screws. The rail and apron assembly sits on the top of the slate playing field and is attached very firmly to the slate with rail bolts. The pockets are attached to the rail and apron assembly, and often serve to hold the rails together at the corners and the side pockets.
In tables currently being constructed, the rail bolts come up from the bottom of the slate through drilled holes in the slate, to attach the rails. There are a number of ways that the rail bolts are designed to bolt into the rails. The drawing below shows the floating nut plate design used by Brunswick.
parts and simplified aspects of rail construction
In older constructions the rails were attached to the slate with bolts entering the side of the slate.These bolts thread into lead lugs that were created by pouring hot lead into holes drilled into the slate for this purpose. In an antique table, problems occasionally arise when these lugs get loose or fall out. Our current repair technique is to replace these lugs with a new epoxy lug, or to glue the old lugs back in place with epoxy.
When dealing with any slightly older table, you must be very careful to deal properly with any dowel pins that you may encounter. These pins are a primary cause of a lot of broken slate. The real problem is that they no longer make dowel pinned slate, and replacing a broken slate of this type is very difficult and expensive. Before lifting any slate you should remove all slate screws, and then carefully slide the slates apart. By always following this procedure, on any table, should you encounter a dowel pin, you will be aware of its presence.
The dowel pins served a purpose in keeping the surface of the slate flat. This can be a big problem in any slate without these dowel pins.
Should you bend a pin in transit, it is not a good idea to attempt to straighten it, and absolutely a terrible idea to try to put the table together with a bent pin. We tell our crew to just cut a damaged pin off, and then to use the straight edge as usual, to be sure the slate is flat as it should be. Old installers do not like this solution, but they will retire soon.
To service tables with any possibility of having dowel pins, remove all screws, then slide the two end slates away from the center slate by only pulling towards the ends of the table. This must be done carefully or you will have a broken slate that cannot be easily replaced.