What Are Pool Tables Made Of?
The most important part of playing a good game is playing on a good table. The main table surface should be made from slate. There are different grades of tables which are reflective in their final price. On the high end of the scale, the table will be made using 7/8 inch to 1 inch thick slate. The lower scaled tables will use 3/4 inch slate. In either case, the slate will extend past the playing surface to the ends of the table, thus allowing extra support for the rails.
The better tables will also have a wood backing for the surface cloth to be attached. Some lower-end tables don't have the wood backing, and the cloth is attached with a spray adhesive, which can cause puckering or peeling especially if moisture and humidity are prevalent. In older tables horizontal holes were drilled in the slate edges and filled with molten lead; screws running through the vertical edge of the rail were tightened into the lead-lined hole. In contrast, rails are attached to modern tables by inserting a bolt vertically through a hole in the slate and tightening it into the bottom of the rail, pulling the rail and slate together snugly. There are many choices to be made when making a custom table.
The thickness of your slate, the color of the cloth for the playing surface, material used for rails and pockets. Most people who own a pool table in their homes consider it a piece of furniture as well as a for entertainment, so be sure to get what you want and what fits into your lifestyle. After deciding your slate, you will need to choose a color for the table. Often there are more than 30 choices. Surfaces are a lot like carpeting, coming in various weights. The common preferred weight is from 20 to 22 ounces. Be sure that it is a good nylon-wool blend. The cloth used to cover the slate and the rails is designed specifically for pool tables. Although it is often referred to as felt (a fabric formed by compressing fibers rather than weaving), it is actually a woven fabric with a nap (exposed, short, fuzzy fiber ends) on one surface. Your rails and pockets are all personal choices as far as coloring and materials.
You can go plain to keep the cost down, or have carved rails with leather pockets, creating an ornate piece of furniture. It's really all up to you. Your playing surface and felt covering should be the main concern for quality. Diamond- or circular-shaped sights embedded in the rail tops are usually made of mother of pearl, abalone shell, or plastic. Pocket irons may be made of cast iron, zinc alloy, aluminum, rubber, or high-impact styrene plastic. Traditionally, pocket liners are made of leather (solid or net), but plastic or rubber is also used. A table made well will last you years and bring much pleasure. For those of you wondering the cost, an inexpensive table might have particle board components that do not hold screws or staples as well as solid wood. Tables vary widely in quality and cost; a casual player who wants a table for a few years of personal recreation can get one for around $600. So-called popularly priced tables, which are well-built, durable, and attractive, may cost $1,600-$3,000.
Remember, your primary aim should be for that of stability and durability.