Lessons from the Great American-Made Pool Table Rummage in 2017
It all started one day when my wife and I were watching a billiard tournament on television. The next morning, I ventured out to find the perfect pool table that would become our newest toy in pursuit of sportsmanship.
I have to confess that my total reference point was what I had seen on television – a table with four legs covered in green cloth and decorated with pockets on the side and corners.
If you are thinking about getting a pool table of your own, let me tell you that is not enough! How was I to know that billiard tables come in a whole bunch of different sizes?
The TV moderators at the tournament never said a word about that!
Since our household decided years ago to try to buy only “Made in the USA” products, I told the clerk at the local billiard table store that I wanted an American Made pool table for our family room.
The salesman at the sporting goods store pummeled me with questions that I couldn’t answer:
- Is the table for pool, billiards or snooker?
- How big is the space where you are going to put it? (He didn’t mean the room. He meant the amount of walking around it space.)
- What kind of wood do you want? hand-stained or laminate finish?
- Brazilian, Italian or Chinese slate?
- What thickness of slate do you want – ¾”, 7/8” or 1 inch?
- Leather, rubber or plastic pockets?
Features of American Made Pool Tables
After hours and hours of intense rummaging through dictionaries, geological text books and researching various terms for wood products, I can fill you in on several important things I learned.
- Know that there is a difference in Pool, Billiards and Snooker and each has a table size standard to that particular game – and the tables are not interchangeable.
- Space is amount that you have available in the room plus additional space for the cue. For example, if you choose a 4’ x 8’ table (which is considered to be an 8.5’ table) and you use a 48” cue, you will need a space free of everything else of at least 12’ x 16’ but if one member of your family decides to use a 58” cue, then you will need a space of 14’ x 18’.
- Choose a table made of solid wood with North American Hardwoods – Maple, Hickory, Oak, Black Walnut, Red Oak or Hard Rock Maple
- Choose woven worsted felt billiard cloth made in Belgium because there is no company in the U.S. that manufacturers it and will not peel or groove when playing
- A sprayed on laminate finish (like the kind that crafters use to seal painted projects) sits on top of the wood while a hand-rubbed gradually seeps into the wood allowing the wood to breathe and prevents cracking
- When it comes to slate, buy “matched and registered” Italian slate with a thickness for home use of no less than 7/8”.
- Leather pockets – preferably Italian leather – in natural colors (no dyed leathers because dying causes the leather to wear faster) are easy to care for and don’t wear out in a couple of years.
- Be prepared to pay for quality and avoid the “sales” that are advertised online.
The manufacturer that I recommended above (the one in Belgium since 1680) recommends vacuuming the felt with a non-rotating brush tip. Regular suction heads will stretch your pool table cloth and it will eventually bunch up in front of the balls when you are playing. (Not good.)
Once vacuumed in this manner, wipe the cloth with a slightly damp clean cotton cloth not toweling. Then, use a soft bristled brush to brush the table top.
My Rummage Unearthed
Overall, what I unearthed is that the words, “American Made, Made in the USA or Made in America” can be misleading in the world of pool tables. Some very well-known brands state that they can claim their product is made in America because their main corporate office is here.
Others claim that they can say that because the table is assembled in your home – “made” in the USA! The only way to be certain that you have an American Made Pool Table is to have one custom built at a factory that you can go visit.