Slate Pool Tables : Frequently Asked Questions
Buying a Pool Table, especially a real "slate pool table" is not a simple as you might think. There are over 1,200 manufacturers of Slate Pool Tables in the world today, and hundreds of other companies that make pool tables with fake slate beds. Here are some Frequently Asked Questions to get you started:
Q: "Do I really need a Slate Pool Table or Should I get a "slatron" or Non-Slate Table?"
A: That depends, do you care if the balls roll straight when you hit them with the pool cue? Slate is the only play surface material that can be precision leveled to 1/10,000 of an inch so that the pool balls roll in a straight line on every shot. If you don't care if the balls roll straight, then save yourself some money and buy a "toy" table (non-slate).
Here is about the nicest Non-Slate table you can get.
Q: "What is the difference beween one piece slate tables and three piece slate tables?"
A: There are two general types of slate tables. One piece slate tables are typically found in bars and clubs and in most cases are coin operated and the balls all roll down to one end. These tables are meant to be durable, easy to move, and cheap to fix. They cannot, however, be precision leveled because the slate sits in a sill like a coffee table top and is not totally flat. Most home and furniture style tables are "three piece slate" pool tables, with anywhere from 3/4" thick to over 2" slate. Three piece slate tables are the only ones that can be made perfectly level, so that the balls roll dead straight.
Q: "Is all Three Piece Slate Pretty Much the Same?"
A: An obvious difference is thickness. Three piece slate pool tables with less than 1" Thick Slate are much lighter and more likely to go out of level over time. The biggest difference is how the slate is cut. Slate is mined out of the ground, cut into 3 pieces, sanded or "honed" flat, then backed with a wood or MDF Frame. Slate that has too high or too low a moisture content is prone to cracking and chipping. Many companies improperly "hone" the slate, using small 6" sanding disks instead of th 5 foot wide sanding disks required to properly flatten slate. You can actually see the sanding marks on improperly honed slate going back an forth over and over again, watch out! All properly honed slate is also a matched set, three pieces cut from one original. There is always a simi-circle chalk mark on the slate that should line up perfectly when the table is being assembled. This is how you can tell you have a "matched set" of pool table slate. Also, some companies use very cheap material to "Frame" or "Back" their slate. Good slate backing should be durable and not chip, flake off, or warp, so that the bed cloth (felt) can be replaced over and over again.
...More to come