After getting familiar with all the things that a good pool table should have, I decided to rate each one I looked at.
Keep in mind, this list is made based on our willingness to dig the money out of our bank stash and cookie jars to buy it. I’m no expert and don’t sell, install or have anything to do with any pool table business.
My Soup to Nuts Must Haves:
This is my list of ‘must haves’ for a pool table:
- Manufactured in the U.S. from stem to stern, head to toe
- American Hardwood preferably Hickory with Hard Maple as a second choice
- Carved legs but not ostentatious
- Hand-rubbed stain finish in a dark brown with red undertones
- Simonis’ Belgium made woven, worsted billiard cloth in a dark green or dark green-blue tone
- Leather pockets and rubber cushions
Since we hadn’t decided what cue sport we preferred, I only rated tables that had sizes ranging from 8’ to 9’.
Here’s My Final List of the Best:
When I started looking for a pool table with my ‘must have’ list in hand, I really didn’t expect it to be as hard to find several that would fill my needs. As it turns out, there are a lot of “billiard table makers” that claim they make the table in the U.S. but they really only “assemble” all the pre-made parts ordered from Asia, South America and occasionally some area of Europe. As a result , my list turned out to be very short.
Number 1: A. E. Schmidt
By the time I discovered A. E. Schmidt Billiard Company, I had already called and visited several other companies that claimed “American Made” pool tables. As it turned it, Schmidt is the one and only billiard table maker that I found who actually had a manufacturing plant right here in the U.S.
All the others had fancy showrooms but when you ask where their manufacturing plant is, they stumbled over their words like children caught with their hand in the cookie jar.
- Actually created and assembled (both) in St. Louis, Missouri at a real woodworking plant with real carpenters doing the work
- Hardwoods are stocked on the premises
- Carved and turned parts such as legs are cured for months allowing the wood to dry in a controlled setting to prevent cracking and splitting after installed on your table
- Simonis woven, worsted wool billiard cloth is an upgraded option for the felt
- Italian 1” slate is an upgraded option – they usually use Brazilian 1” slate (both are set into solid hardwood frames)
- Wood is stained and hand-rubbed and samples of colors on different woods are available
- 100% Cobra rubber cushions (these are the kind on tournament tables) are standard features with a 10-year guarantee against breaking loose from the rails
Number 2: Olhausen
Olhausen is the second U.S. manufacturer of pool tables. They use more veneer wood than Schmidt does but the process of production is about equal – to the amateur eye of course.
Their plant is smaller than Schmidt’s but more of the equipment is high-tech.
- Manufactured from scratch in Portland, Tennessee
- Hardwoods stored on site
- Carved and turned parts such as legs are sprayed with a laminate after staining before installation – no one could tell me about any curing time or method for the wood parts
- Wood is spray-stained and hand-brushed with a soft cloth to even out finishes
- Table felt is made by Accu-Guard and no option to upgrade to Simonis
- Cushions are made by Accu-Fast Cushions made with chemically enhanced rubber (this is a product of Olhausen itself. The cushions have a Lifetime Warranty that covers normal wear and tear of the rubber but not the installation and does not provide protection against the cushions breaking loose from the rails.)
Narrowing the Decision
There are a lot of pool players that swear Olhausen is the best pool table on the market but for me, it took a distant second place.
The price of the tables is very nearly the same for the same features that I wanted so that became a non-issue.
We wanted a pool table for our family room for home use and to entertain our friends. It soon became obvious to me that the cost of a pool table was really more of a furniture investment than the purchase of a Big Boy Toy. So, it is coming down to the question of resale value compared to investment cost.