View Full Version : new table installation

03-04-2003, 04:45 PM
hello, i'm new here and i'm seeking advice. i have just purchased a table from zbilliards on ebay. i did my homework beforehand and it seemed to be the best value. the table arrived yesterday, and i'm thrilled! it seems very well made, i'm very impressed with the quality. i'm anxiously awaiting the felt and instructions which should arrive in a day or so. i plan to do the installation myself if possible...i'm quite handy and have experience building things, woodwork, precision work etc. however, i'm new to pool tables and i was wondering if there's anything that i should know before i begin? i can see how the structure goes together easily enough, the frame is pre assembled and i have already put the legs on. the 3 piece 1" slate rests on the cabinet with the rails bolting though it. questions that i have are 1. how is it leveled? shims? perhaps those two holes in each of the outside pieces of slate, near the edge? 2. how do you smooth the lines between the seams? i've heard beeswax but i dont know. 3. is it ok to have scratches in the slate? there are several scratches that are deep enough to feel with my fingertips (i didn't like the way the shippers handled the stuff) if it's a problem, i want to take it up with zbilliars before the table is installed, i've heard that poor installation can make a good table seem lousy and good installation can make a poor table play well. i'd just like to do it all right the first time. btw thus far, zbilliards customer service and product seems very good. i can't believe the quality of the finish! the solid maple is beautiful! thanks for your time and experience.

L.S. Dennis
03-04-2003, 05:06 PM
Well congradulations on the new table. Regarding putting it together, if you've never done it before or at the very least watched someone else do it you're going to in for a rough time.

I have an old Brunswick Viscount table which came with an instruction manual that gave a step by step procedure on how to assmble it.

You would many things that you probably don't have laying around the house, things like wooden shims, long carpenters levels electric stapleing gun a can of Bondo (to fill in the seems in the slate) and above all a tremendous amount of patience. It can be done I''ve done it but it's not worth
doing if you can affort to have it done by someone who does this all the time. At the very least have professionals put the cloth on for you, simmonis I hope!

03-04-2003, 05:28 PM
Let me say this,,,I bought a table and had 2 friends who were very mechanically ept(as I am) help in the relocation, keeping a very detailed diargam for the reassembly. It all went together, the slate seams waxed properly, everything SEEMED to align exactly with the last assembly marks. I played on that table for nearly 2 years, and then decided to have it resituated in the room, so I hired a real mechanic instead of doing it myself. THAT WAS WHEN I FOUND OUT WHY YOU PAY MECHANICS TO DO IT! There was playability in that table I never knew existed until it was tightened, leveled and tweaked.

If you want to save money and do it yourself, I'll wager that you will eventually have a similiar story to tell some day. Why not just do it right and enjoy ALL of your table's quality...have a table mechanic set it up? It is money well spent, I'll guarantee you that...sid

03-04-2003, 06:13 PM
Congrats on your new table!!!
I must agree with Sid on this one, if you have someone local see what they would charge to set it up for you. There are many small quirks that can go on and effect the play of your new table. Many of them small enough that you wouldnt know it unless it was redone, and then you would wonder why you played on it the way it was.
If the cloth is not stretched properly it can and will effect how the balls roll. And as has been posted on another thread, a regular caprenters level is not really good enough, they can show as level but be far enough off to make the balls roll funny.
I know it is very satisfying to do things yourself but after spending the money on the table dont short-change its playability by skimping on the installation.
If you do choose to hire someone make sure they come recommended.

03-04-2003, 07:23 PM
first of all thanks for your replies. i was sure that it was an involved process, and i have all of the aforementioned equipment and have access to anything else i might need, however i would really prefer to have it done. i usually want to do things myself but this time i think it would be wise to have a professional set it up-if i can afford it. i'm not sure what price range to expect, and as a student, i have a very limited income. the table cost 1500 including everything and shipping. i still have a little left over though; does anyone rough guess/ballpark as to how much it would cost? all the pieces are already up the stairs so there would be very little moving, just setting up. thanks again

03-04-2003, 09:51 PM
I believe the shop where I bought my table charges around $300-$400 to setup a table from scratch (unless you buy the table from them, then setup is free), or $200 to recover the table, including the standard napped cloth. As they prefer to install their own tables I imagine that there is quite a markup for installing others -- I would imagine that a mechanic not in the retail business might be a bit cheaper. If you live in or near a major city you should be able to find a mechanic in the yellow pages, probably under "Billiard Mechanics".

I strongly suggest you come up with the money and hire a mechanic. If you're the handy type, then once you've watched it done by the pros, you'll have a better idea for how to do it yourself next time. There are a lot of little techniques that are required that you most likely would never think of. I know the first time I saw a table assembled, I was impressed at all the little techniques. Strings and coins (quarters) are usually used to align the slates, and rough leveling of the completed slate bed is done by tapping shims between the frame and slate. Final leveling is done by shims under the legs (or adjustable legs, if you have them). Oh, and I was one of the people who posted in the aforementioned thread about how a standard carpenter's level is not precise enough to level a pool table. In the absence of a good machinist's level, get it as level as possible with the carpenter's level, then just tap balls around softly with a cue using centerball hits -- don't roll the balls with your hands because you will invariably produce spin that will cloud the results. Another tip I learned on this board was to use a small sheet of glass, like from a picture frame, and set it at various spots on the table with a clean and polished ball on top. If there is any tilt to speak of, the ball will roll off the glass.

You also need to think about your table's warranty. zBilliards tables come with a lifetime warranty, but that may require a qualified mechanic for installation. You don't want to risk voiding your warranty. I know Brunswick's lifetime warranty requires installation by an authorized Brunswick dealer/mechanic. Part of the warranty registration packet for my Brunswick included a diagram that I had to sign, which showed the measurements from the sides of my table to each wall -- if the table was found to be moved later on, the warranty would be voided.

BTW, on the subject of seam sealer, I would suggest beeswax. It seems to be the most popular these days. Plaster (or bondo) used to be the choice, but beeswax (once dried) is surprisingly hard yet still flexible, while plaster will tend to crumble and fall out of the bottom of the slate over time, especially during drastic temperature changes or if the table is bumped around and the slates are torqued. Beeswax is NOT a good idea in very hot conditions, or when heating your slates, however.

David <~~~~ working on my long-winded Larry posts

03-04-2003, 11:34 PM
I had mine disassembled, recovered(simonas) and reoriented in my room for between 300-350 a few years ago. If I'd had a storefront do it, I imagine it would have been pricier, but I found a mechanic through the local pool school that was great and more affordable. Good luck...sid

Btw, are you getting new cloth? The labor is going to be close anyway, I'd consider it if I were you. sv

03-05-2003, 07:24 AM
I have to agree with everyone else on this subject. PAY A MECHANIC TO DO IT. I recently moved into a home which will accomodate a 9 footer, so I decided to give my 4x8 too my father-in-law. He lives waaaaaaay out in the sticks and I could not find anyone who would come and set the table up.

So...I decided to do it myself as I am also somewhat mechanically inclined /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif After about 9 hours it was finally together and if I EVER have to put another one together it will be too soon.

Also, the table just doesn't seem to play the same as it did when I had it. I put it together exactly like I took it apart, leveled and shimmed and tightened and tweeked until I was blue in the face, etc., etc., etc. and it just aint the same. /ccboard/images/graemlins/confused.gif I believe those mechanics know tricks, secrets and other goodies to get the maximum playability out of a table. So shell out a little more cash and enjoy!! /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif

Fred Agnir
03-05-2003, 07:36 AM
I'll agree with everyone in that if you've never even seen it done, hire a mechanic. Watch intensely. Ask questions if s/he's approachable. You'll be able to figure for yourself whether or not you can do it the next time.


03-05-2003, 08:39 AM
I'd like to provide one dissenting voice in this discussion.

I don't know what they do with the quarters and the string but I know what "professional" table mechanics and their help did to 22 tables that I have seen. They botched the job so badly that the tables were unplayable. One thing you need to know is that these people are "professionals". That means, among other things, that they have to do the job as quickly as possible in order to maximize their profits.

I've seen brand new tables set up so badly that within 6 months a ball crossing a seam would turn around and go backwards. The "professional" used paraffin instead of beeswax even though the manufacturer recommended against either (and he was a subcontractor hired by the company). He was supposed to use "liquid dowels" and failed to do so even when he came back to fix the tables. Apparently he thought he knew best. Maybe he reads this board and believes he knows everything.

These guys have no right to the godlike status they are given here. Certainly there are some good ones. I think once you determine what they do with the quarters and the string you can take your time and do the job the best way, not the quickest way. I'm still working on fixing the atrocious work that one of the gods did on my table.

I will add that I watched a very good mechanic and two helpers change the cloth on around ten tables. These guys were great. I saw another "pro" put Simonis on two Gold Crowns and one of them looked like waves breaking on the shore. I thought about asking him if those waves would go away after a while but I refrained from doing so.

L.S. Dennis
03-05-2003, 09:35 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote KenThe "professional" used paraffin instead of beeswax even though the manufacturer recommended against either . [/quote:</font><hr>

Just out of curiousity, what did the manufacturer suggest to use when filling in the seems of the slate? My old Brunswick manual said to use plater of paris but that breaks up and crumbles under the cloth after a while. Since then I've use 'Bondo Body Filler' which works great and doesn't break up!

03-05-2003, 09:36 AM
I find it interesting that you say the use of beeswax is very popular nowadays. I used to do thew tables at my base in the Air Force and that is what I used back in 61' I learned to do tables by helping the table mechanic that came to do the tables in the town of Roswell, New Mexico. But back to the issue , beeswax was al that was ever used back then.---Smitty

03-05-2003, 09:52 AM
Bondo and "Liquid Dowels" are what the manufacturer's mechanics use. The guy setting up these tables was a sub-contractor hired by the Company to do this installation to save them sending people out to do it (big mistake).

The tables will be used in many tournaments and possibly some TV matches if things go in that direction. Some very knowlegable players will be expecting perfectly playing tables and any problems will reflect badly on the manufacturer. For the time being they seem to be fixed but time will tell.

03-05-2003, 10:08 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote HalSmith:</font><hr> I find it interesting that you say the use of beeswax is very popular nowadays. I used to do thew tables at my base in the Air Force and that is what I used back in 61' I learned to do tables by helping the table mechanic that came to do the tables in the town of Roswell, New Mexico. But back to the issue , beeswax was al that was ever used back then.---Smitty <hr /></blockquote>Well, I didn't mean to imply it was a new invention. I was just basing my observations on what I've seen. Most tables and table mechanics I see use beeswax. In fact, the mechanics who installed my table talked about how in the old days they used to use plaster, but because it crumbles and falls out, they changed to beeswax.


03-05-2003, 10:21 AM

You make a point that should be considered. A friend of mine bought an antique Brunswick table. He had the local Brunswick dealership mechanics replace the cushions and cloth. You would not believe the way they cut the cushions. He finally had to hire someone else to fix their mess. He showed me the cushions the first guys put on. One of them was cut at almost 90% angle at the corner pocket /ccboard/images/graemlins/laugh.gif. The angles were different on every one. It was mind-boggling.

So contemplate needs to find someone who has a good rep, if possible.

03-05-2003, 10:23 AM
Well congraulations!I've done a few tables,so here is my recommendation.
1.Level the base assembly to the floor using a standard level.If the floor is very unlevel, don't use wood under the legs, use someething that won't compress over time from the weight.
2.Checkout that scratched slate, if it's on both sides and in the playing area,get it replaced!If it's scratched only on one side or under the rail pieces you may be able to put the bad side facing the floor.
3.Where the slate comes together on the cross pieces,you shim from underneath.Pickup a bundle of shims at the local hardware store.Now take a ball and drag it across the seams
and shim from underneath until you can't feel the seam anymore and tighten down the side screws.
4.You can use plaster, bees wax,across the seams and let it dry thoroughly. then sand down,until it feels real smooth with your hand anyplace on the seams.
5.Brush and vacuum the slate several times!very important!
6.Generally the cloth gets stapled on the side boards,but I have seen tables where they use contact cement, but only on the sides,in these cases.Electric stapler will save your grip hand a lot and highly recommended.
7.If you have to do the rails, and your pretty handy as you said!Take a look at the tables at your local club and you'll
see how the folds go.Not hard to do, but be careful to not try and pull the cloth so taut that you cause the cushions
to have dimples where you pulled the cloth and stapled.
Good luck and email me if you have any questions.

03-05-2003, 11:05 AM
Darn good advice. it is a MUST to get recommendations, hopefully from actual, seasoned local players with a billiard business or at least years of pool involvement who will be "in the know" for adequate mechanics. I happen to have become acquainted with so many people here that it's a no-brainer for me to get good help in the Dallas area. As Ken stated, a supposed professional can really screw the pooch, so be sure to not merely take them at their word, ask around and get positive feedback before chosing anyone...sid

#### leonard
03-06-2003, 04:05 PM
Roswell,NM did they Taken that pool table away. Do the balls roll strange in Roswell? It must have Taken forever to level a pool table in Roswell,NM. Is it true what they say about that town, very scary.####

#### leonard
03-07-2003, 08:37 AM
Bob on number 3 on would slide a dime across the seam it works like a dream. Some mechanics use a straight edge and look for daylight. I never heard of using a ball.####

03-07-2003, 09:17 AM
I never heard or seen anyone using a dime for this. But next time I do a table I'll try it. I learn something new all the time. take care bob