Cruise the Web and you’ll find multiple YouTube videos, Pinterest boards, blog posts and articles from home improvement, DIY and woodworking websites that all provide tips, tricks, building plans and punch lists for and about how to build a pool table on your own.
It’s clearly something that’s entirely possible to accomplish as a do-it-yourself project, and in this article the experts at Century Billiards, the leading manufacturer of custom pool tables for five generations, will offer some of the best tips for how to build a pool table at home.
However, building a pool table on your own without the aid of a highly experienced and qualified billiards mechanic and woodworking professional is not a project for the faint of heart, nor is it a job for a woodworking beginner.
Thus, you’ll need some woodworking experience, some experience taking on a DIY project of this size, some patience and some very helpful friends who are also experienced with woodworking since pool tables require a detailed, coordinated effort to complete.
Century Billiards, for instance, has perfected the process of building custom pool tables and restoring and repairing new and antique pool tables over five generations. The tradition began back in Salerno, Italy in the late 19th century where the Grimaldi family had an already established pool table business.
The family brought its expertise to the United States in 1896, and for more than 100 years the tradition and dedication to creating the finest quality, most unique billiards tables on the market has continued not only with pool tables, but also with everything a custom, high-end game room needs, including game tables, arcade games, lighting, furniture, darts and dart boards. Century Billiards prides itself on producing top-notch cabinetry, leatherwork and upholstery, as well as delivering all forms of reconditioning service and repair work.
It’s because of that dedication and craftsmanship that so many customers in New York and across the country turn to Century Billiards for their pool table and game room needs.
What You Need for Building Your Own Pool Table
If you’re still game enough to undertake this project on your own, then the woodworking professionals at Century Billiards are happy to impart some expert tips for building a billiards table for your own home.
- For starters, you’ll want to make sure you have enough space in the room you choose to place your pool table. You would be surprised at how many times people forget to consider the space needed to have multiple players comfortably fit and move around a pool table in order to make proper shots.
So your measurements should include not only how much room you have for the table itself, but also for the players who will be using it with their pool cues.
- Next, you should attain some pool table plans for the size pool table you’d like to build. There are many on the Web that can either be downloaded for free or for a nominal fee.
Keep in mind that you can really build any size or shape pool table you want, but typically most people are seeking to build a regulation-size pool table. That means the pool table should be half as wide as it is long, or 100-3/4 inches long by 56-3/4 inches wide.
However, unless you’re actually planning on hosting a pool tournament at your home, you don’t necessarily need to adhere to the regulation aspect.
- In addition, do your research. Good billiards table plans and/or instructions should also include some illustrations and walk you through at least the basics of everything from figuring rail lengths and covering the rails and slate bed to figuring the slate bed, the legs, the body frame, assembling the body frame and attaching the side rails.
But even in-depth research and the best-laid plans might result in a mistake or two. Remember to be prepared for that and to ask for help when you need it. And remember the two cardinal rules of any DIY building project: measure twice, cut once and realize the project might take longer than expected due to unforeseen circumstances. This is why aforementioned patience is crucial when taking on a project of this magnitude.
- You’ll also need to purchase the necessary amount and type of wood or medium-density fiberboard (MDF), depending on what on your pool table plans require.
If you want to get fancy, then you might also consider making the frame out of more unique materials to make it all your own. At Century Billiards, we can customize a pool table for you and can bring to life almost any type of game table you envision.
If you’re doing this at home, then you should probably stick to a basic format and plans, as well as stick to wood, which can be more easily cut and made into a simple rectangular pool table frame.
The type of wood you ultimately choose also depends not only on what your plans require, but also personal preference. The wood you choose makes up the largest portion of your table, followed by the pool felt, so it’s paramount that you choose a high-quality wood to make the best visual statement that fits your personal style and shows off your hard work.
Pool table professionals further recommend choosing solid hardwoods to support the slate that will sit atop it.
- You might also need to buy some woodworking supplies and tools to complete the project if you don’t already have them in your garage or tool kit at home.
Such woodworking tools might include, but are not limited to, a table saw, a chop saw, a band saw, a jigsaw, a hole saw, a manual saw, a router, a nail gun and nails, a stapler and staples, wood glue, wood clamps, a lathe, chisels, sandpaper, an orbital sander, a drill, screws, a biscuit joiner, biscuits, a drill press, planers, measuring tape, disposable brushes, shop towels and a razor blade.
- Besides the necessary materials to build the pool table frame, you’ll also need several other items. One key item is slate since it’s generally the surface of choice for pool tables.
Slate consists of mica, quartz, clay and other minerals. It’s sourced from several different locations around the world, particularly from Italy, Brazil and China. Slate used for pool tables is generally one-inch thick and supported by a frame that is at least the same thickness or much thicker to easily handle the weight.
Regulation slate is typically cut into three separate pieces, but there are single-piece slate slabs that feature cut-outs for home pool tables.
Please also note that the harder the slate, the more brittle it is. Extra supports that run under the slate bed from side to side and end to end are, thus, recommended.
- Another key item is the right pool cloth. Generally speaking, the right cloth is a blend of 75 percent wool and 25 nylon (called baize) with a weight of 22 ounces per linear yard.
Some pool traditionalists might favor all wool. Pure wool pool table cloth is also what’s preferred and used on the professional circuit. However, the addition of nylon adds more strength and is well worth the investment of a few extra dollars per linear yard for a home pool table.
Popular pool felt sizes include seven feet, eight feet and nine feet, but other sizes are available.
- Choose the right billiards rails for your table.
Rails consist of a wooden frame and a rubber cushion, which are made of synthetic or vulcanized rubber and covered with felt. Higher-end pool tables are usually made with K66 cushions (the number generally refers to the cushion shape and angle).
- Don’t forget about the pockets!
There’s quite a variety of pockets available for home tables. For example, you can go with plastic or leather. You can go with fringe or shield pocket styles. If you want to take it to the next level, then you can even install your own ball return system.
- Last, but not least, when all is said and done and your pool table is up and running, consider investing in a pool table cover to protect your investment and hard work.
There are myriad pool table cover choices available on the market today, and it’s essential to keep the table protected from even dust so that your pool table remains intact and usable for years to come.
Why It’s Best to Leave Building Pool Tables to Professionals
The experts at Century Billiards know the satisfaction of building a custom pool table, one tailored to exact taste and specifications. They also know what it takes to build one to perfection.
Thus, even with all of the insider, pro advice listed here, you still might want to consider consulting a professional pool table company that has the experience to build a professional-grade, custom billiards table for you. You’ll find that it’s worth the investment without all of the hassle of doing it yourself.
Give Century Billiards a call today at 631-462-6655 or simply fill out our online contact form to learn more about pool table options. Our friendly staff can answer any questions – including the eight questions to always consider when purchasing a pool table – regarding Century Billiards’ custom pool tables and the work and pride that go into each one of them. Looking forward to hearing from you soon!
Sources: HGTV.com, Fine Woodworking, tcbilliards.com