View Full Version : How important is center beam in table construction

10-08-2007, 02:47 PM
I'm in the process of buying a new table for my home basement bar area. The two I've looked at so far that I like are a Brunswick Bradford and the Thomas Aaron Deerfield. Problem is that each dealer will tell you something different and what is so important. The most striking thing seems to be this "center beam" support running the length of the table to support the slate. The Thomas Aaron dealer is telling me how important it is to have, yet when I talk to the Brunswick dealer, he tells me that NONE of the Brunswick tables have a center beam because if the table is made correctly you don't need it.
I guess I was surprised that a Brunswick table didn't have the center beam support. So my question is How important is the center beam support ,or is the Brunswick dealer correct in saying that if made right it doesn't matter?

Any advice would be welcome.


10-08-2007, 03:04 PM
If I had to guess, I would say that if you can build the frame in such a way that you don't need a center beam for support, then go for it. I have heard the same thing from the Brunswick dealer. You would think that Brunswick has figured out how to "correctly" build a table by now (162 years in business).

10-08-2007, 03:11 PM
If you have sufficient cross beams, and they have designed the table to be stable with this design, there should not be a problem.

Historically, pool table frames have been strong, but imperfect. Table mechanics earn their dough by getting slate to level on tables with (sometimes) substantial imperfections. Wood wedges, paper, and playing cards may be placed between the slate and frame to get it to sit level. Better tables will have many adjusting screws around the slate edges to provide more accurate and durable leveling. If you can afford a table with this type of slate leveling system, I would think it to be worth the bucks.

To answer your question, center beams are not necessarily needed, and I would not base the purchase on this design difference alone. I would look at the type of wood used in the beams (poplar is good, pine and fake stuff are not), and
what the dimensions of the beams are. For poplar, I would want 4" x 8", but you could probably get by with less.

I will also disclose that my table has two steel beams running lengthwise, and four crossways. I did not use wood in the frame because of it's many inherent imperfections and potential to change shape with time and atmospheric conditions.

10-08-2007, 03:23 PM
It's all about mass, stability and proper construction. Brunswick is constructed to make the center support unnecessary but some other manufacturers, because of their distribution of weight and support, use a center support. My Gandy has one and would not be stable without it because of the total design.

Given that most table manufacturers are at least competent at design, weight is a much better sign of stability than placement of support beams (although there have been exceptions). There may be other reasons to go with a "name" brand such as service, a dealer near you or some history playing on a certain table. Brunswick makes a fine product but not especially the best table. I would buy a Brunswick, Olhausen, Diamond or other known table if you have that choice. If not, roll a ball on the table to see how it rolls and even sounds. Bump the table with balls on it to see if they move, throw/hit balls into pockets to see how they take the shots, see how the balls come off cushions, etc. That will help more than worry over a center beam, IMO.

10-08-2007, 04:27 PM
I have had 3 tables. Two were early--to-mid 1900's Brunswick Antique & one was a Golden West 6-legger with a Granite playing surface. The early Brunswicks both had a center beam. The Golden West did not.

The Golden West 3 piece playing surface had warped. When I received the pieces of the Pool Table, from a Hollywood Actors sale, the slates were convex. After building a center beam & laying them upside down for a year, they were straight enough to play on. It was a great table.

10-09-2007, 04:41 PM
I own a CL Bailey 8ft. It has a interlocking center beam and cross beams. All wood construction, 1" slate and a written lifetime guarantee including the cushion. I'm very happy with the table

10-09-2007, 05:46 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote eallsup:</font><hr> ... Any advice would be welcome. ... <hr /></blockquote>
What do the guarantees cover? If it's warped after 13 months, will the local store take care of the repair? How warped does it have to get? Is it in writing? I think it's fair to say that all brands have problems, and the important thing is whether the retailer will help if there is a problem. That's one of the problems with some of the internet tables -- no support.