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View Full Version : Why do we use SLATE for pool table beds



BigRigTom
08-23-2007, 02:54 PM
With all the advanced technology why do we still use slate for the surface of a pool table?
Could another man-made substance be as good or better and possibly less expensive.
For instance what about the Phenolic Resin?
Could a pool table bed be made out of that stuff?
OR
What about various metal allows like cast aluminum?

Are these stupid questions?
if so
Why?
Someone must have looked into this subject at one time or other.

DeadCrab
08-23-2007, 07:40 PM
Because slate is cheap. Really cheap. In fact, the slate is practically free. Moving slate, from Italy, to the US, across town, whatever, is very, very expensive.

Phenolic resin was used in what was probably the last table built by AMF (the Key West outdoor). It was an expensive table. Granite, Corian...all hard enough, but much more expensive than slate. Aluminum and steel plate are far, far too expensive.

Not everyone is sold on slate. I play on MDF tightly attached to 1/8" thick square 2" steel tubing (which makes for a very strong and level frame). It plays very true at a fraction of the cost. I have been offered slate for $100 but don't feel like carrying it and dealing with seams, screw holes, pops, fractures, ect. Not to mention any imperfections that might make you prop it up with playing cards.

The design of pool tables hasn't changed much in the last 150 years. My guess is that it isn't likely to change anytime soon. And it is not because it is such a wonderful design.

Alfie
08-23-2007, 08:31 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote DeadCrab:</font><hr> I play on MDF tightly attached to 1/8" thick square 2" steel tubing (which makes for a very strong and level frame). <hr /></blockquote> Got pictures? Who made it?

DeadCrab
08-24-2007, 08:00 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Alfie:</font><hr> <blockquote><font class="small">Quote DeadCrab:</font><hr> I play on MDF tightly attached to 1/8" thick square 2" steel tubing (which makes for a very strong and level frame). <hr /></blockquote> Got pictures? Who made it? <hr /></blockquote>

It is homemade. Some pics of the frame assembly can be seen here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/12053632@N03/

they are sorta in reverse order. Eventually, I'll take some of the finished product.

Chopstick
08-24-2007, 08:59 AM
I have often wondered the same thing myself. One thing about slate is that it machines easily. Machining a soft metal like aluminum or titanium to +-.005 would be more difficult than slate.

MDF is interesting but I would worry about it's sensitivity to moisture. Lexan is an interesting material. Even plexiglass in one inch sheets. Those bullet resistant glass panels at the 7/11 look pretty flat to me. I'll bet they are heavy as slate though.

I see no reason why a pool table has to weigh a 1000 lbs. It would be just as stable at 200 lbs and a lot easier to deal with.

BigRigTom
08-24-2007, 09:13 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote DeadCrab:</font><hr> <blockquote><font class="small">Quote Alfie:</font><hr> <blockquote><font class="small">Quote DeadCrab:</font><hr> I play on MDF tightly attached to 1/8" thick square 2" steel tubing (which makes for a very strong and level frame). <hr /></blockquote> Got pictures? Who made it? <hr /></blockquote>

It is homemade. Some pics of the frame assembly can be seen here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/12053632@N03/

they are sorta in reverse order. Eventually, I'll take some of the finished product.

<hr /></blockquote>
That is amazing!
I wish I had that sort of focus and commitment that I could do a project like that. I truly envy anyone who does and I would really like to see the finished product.
Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

bradb
08-25-2007, 03:48 PM
Tom, with a lot of the reasons mentioned in this post, inexpensive, machines to a perfect surface, and so on, I would also add that the slate also provides the weight needed to keep the table steady.
There is nothing more irritating then to bump the side of a cheap table with your hip and it moves the balls around.
My in law has a cheap Sears table and sometimes when I get a hook on him, he bumps it and knocks the QB into the open, talk about a house table! He usually says "oops, sorry" but I let it ride.

/ccboard/images/graemlins/cool.gif

MrLucky
08-26-2007, 08:05 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote DeadCrab:</font><hr> <blockquote><font class="small">Quote Alfie:</font><hr> <blockquote><font class="small">Quote DeadCrab:</font><hr> I play on MDF tightly attached to 1/8" thick square 2" steel tubing (which makes for a very strong and level frame). <hr /></blockquote> Got pictures? Who made it? <hr /></blockquote>
It is homemade. Some pics of the frame assembly can be seen here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/12053632@N03/

they are sorta in reverse order. Eventually, I'll take some of the finished product.

<hr /></blockquote>


MDF ( wood chips and glue) is notorious for its moisture issues ! it will swell and then crumble ! <font color="red"> </font color>

DeadCrab
08-26-2007, 08:36 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote MrLucky:</font><hr> <blockquote><font class="small">Quote DeadCrab:</font><hr> <blockquote><font class="small">Quote Alfie:</font><hr> <blockquote><font class="small">Quote DeadCrab:</font><hr> I play on MDF tightly attached to 1/8" thick square 2" steel tubing (which makes for a very strong and level frame). <hr /></blockquote> Got pictures? Who made it? <hr /></blockquote>
It is homemade. Some pics of the frame assembly can be seen here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/12053632@N03/

they are sorta in reverse order. Eventually, I'll take some of the finished product.

<hr /></blockquote>


MDF ( wood chips and glue) is notorious for its moisture issues ! it will swell and then crumble ! <font color="red"> </font color> <hr /></blockquote>

You are thinking of particle board. MDF has substantially better properties. My guess is that MDF bonded to steel isn't going anywhere.

If problems develop, I can either replace the MDF for $22.50 and 3 hours of labor, or I can pop a pattern slate in.

After 4 months, there has been no moisture degradation. Check with me a year from now and I'll give an honest update as to how it is holding up. If it doesn't work out, I will admit it.

Fran Crimi
08-26-2007, 08:43 AM
I don't know what MDF is and have little or no knowledge of building materials, but can you execute jump shots well on your table? I recall non-slate tables where it was much more difficult and in some cases, nearly impossible to jump a ball.

Fran

DeadCrab
08-26-2007, 09:50 AM
I don't jump or masse, so I guess I would have to say that I don't know.

Brian in VA
08-26-2007, 12:18 PM
Knowing the properties of MDF, medium density fiberboard, as a woodworker my guess is that's it's nearly impossible to jump off it as it will absorb the hit more than act as a rebounding surface. Over time, it may also develop dimples where balls have bounced. Otherwise, I see it as a perfectly acceptable surface as long as it's kept dry. MDF will swell when water gets into the material and then there is nothing that can be done except replacement.

Brian in VA