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Pool Tables

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Pool tables got their name from people pooling their bets at billiard halls back in the day. Shooting pool is still a fun way to pass the time in your local pub or billiard hall, and if you have space, it can be a great addition to a recreation room.

   BUYING TIPS

The Basics

  • Even though it’s sports equipment, a pool table is also a piece of furniture so make sure you like how it looks since it takes up a large part of most recreation rooms.

  • A solid wood table, especially those made from hardwoods such as poplar, cherry, maple and oak, will last generations and also hold a good re-sale value. A less expensive laminate or veneer product can also provide you with a pretty good table.

  • Good tables should be properly sealed so they can withstand changes in humidity. If you live in an excessively humid area then an MDF or plywood frame might be less likely to warp than solid wood.

  • If you’re the least bit serious about your game, insist on slate – it rolls truer, lasts longer and is more durable.

  • Find out where the slate comes from – Brazilian or Italian is best. There should also be a break between the slate and frame so the cloth can move a little if it has to.

  • The rails (or bumpers) are an extremely important component of the table because they connect the frame and slate into one solid mass – if it’s not done well, the rails may shift. Rails should be securely bolted through the slate and frame for a sturdier table.

  • Cushions made from gum rubber as opposed to synthetic rubber give better rebounds. Synthetic cushions can harden or break over time.

  • For pockets, leather is the most durable, long-lasting material. Plastic pockets lessen the cost of the table but they can crack with wear.

  • The table cloth is a wool-nylon blend. The higher the percentage of wool, the slower the ball rolls.

Other Considerations

  • Remember to factor in the space around the table (at least 5 feet) you need to play comfortably.

  • Remember that beyond the cost of the table, you also need to budget for cues, balls, a rack, a dust cover, and installation.

   TEST CRITERIA

We went head-to-head with a couple of real pool sharks and tested three different tables to see if one stood out:

  • Springfield: $1999
  • York: $4000
  • Olhausen’s Dona Marie: $7995

Play & Style Test

  • The Dona Marie had old-time classic aesthetics, with hand crafted ornately carved wooden legs and net pockets; it was a definite winner when it came to quality, but didn’t necessarily satisfy everyone’s sense of style.

  • The York also had good furniture quality. A more contemporary table style, it also played really well.

  • Between style and how the table played, the Springfield didn’t win any of us over but we agreed that it would be a good beginner table for kids.

   OUR TOP PICK

Apart from how serious you are about your billiards, it really comes down to style and how you want the table to look as furniture – at least for us it did. If you have kids, the more economical beginner table by Springfield may be the smartest choice. If you’re more serious, you may be inclined to consider the York.

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