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  • Help me build "dream table"

    Hello Every One & Merry Xmas!

    I am a great fan of snooker and love to play the game. I initially belong to a poor country so it took around 10 years to build a snooker table (completed Oct 2003) but I am not satisfied with it.

    You can understand how it feels like to put your efforts in for ten years only to find the thing not living up to the expectations

    Well, the table is very attractive indeed! The main flaw in the table is that it is not as fast as I would like it to be. The cushions are not lively as well although Northern Rubber is used and that is my real concern. (It is not a steel-block one)

    http://img249.imageshack.us/img249/9051/my1y.jpg
    http://img847.imageshack.us/img847/9923/my2j.jpg
    http://img94.imageshack.us/img94/5606/my3mo.jpg

    The table is a full-size, 5-piece marble bed 1.75 inches thick. The level is absolutely spot on due to the stone because it won't sag. The cushions are tightened at the maximum torque (in fact I over-tightened one of the bolts and it has damaged the bed as well by pulling a whole chunk of the stone off along-with the nut adjacent to the left black pocket)

    I need your help to rebuild my table-top in order to make it perfect and to make this dream of mine come true.

    I need help with a few things:

    First of all I need detailed info about the steel-blocks that are used in the cushions as I plan to build a steel-block one this time.

    At the moment I know very little about them only what I could make out of the pictures Googling and from an odd video from YouTube of setting up a tournament table.

    Can anyone guide/advise me precisely on the following measurements of the steel-blocks?

    1. Their thickness and width,
    2. Measurements of the holes for the bolts and the screws in it,
    3. Measurements of the cut-out at the outer side of the steel-block for cloth retaining slip.
    4. The outer wooden part of the cushion.

    Real photos or drawings well explaining the subject would be much appreciated.

    Another thing I need expert advice on is the nuts and bolts used for fixing the steel blocks into the slate. (In my case marble)

    I need to know the following things as price.

    1. The type, length and girth of the bolt
    2. Type/measurement of the thread used on the bolt
    3. Type of the nut used and how it is wedged into the stone.
    4. How far the nut is wedged into the bed.


    I understand some people would say that these things are the trade secrets. But as you can also see I have put this table together by myself the top is fitted by a professional table fitter but you know in third-world countries the fitters only do what they have learned from their elders a couple of decades ago. They put together what they find available. That is the reason he has put only five bolts each in the four side-rails instead of six saying that the bolts are powerful enough to suffice. I think that is one of the reasons of the slow cushion response.

    I am sure there are many professional table fitters in this forum who can help me. I can assure that the advice I need is only for my personal use.

    Any comments, suggestion are welcome.

    Thank you all in advance
    Hsn

  • #2
    Just looking at this according to your profile you are 31 so born in 1980. Your table which you built was completed in 2003 when you were presumably 23 but had taken 10 years so you began when you were 13! That is quite interesting. I am sure when I was 13 I couldn't have started such a big project.
    王可

    Comment


    • #3
      Thank you for your reply. I started playing pool/billiards when I was 10 and fell in love with it. Yes at the age of 13 it became my ambition to build a full-size snooker table and I started planning and arranging things for it, bit by bit!

      Originally posted by philip in china View Post
      Just looking at this according to your profile you are 31 so born in 1980. Your table which you built was completed in 2003 when you were presumably 23 but had taken 10 years so you began when you were 13! That is quite interesting. I am sure when I was 13 I couldn't have started such a big project.

      Comment


      • #4
        If you built that table - all power to you. It looks great (although I wasn't able to access the 1st photo for some reason).

        There are two points which I want to address here:

        (1) Number of bolts in each rail
        When you say "only five bolts each in the four side-rails instead of six" I am a bit confused. There are 6 rails - each separated by a side or corner pocket. These are normally numbered from 1 to 6, starting from the bottom rail and counting in a clockwise direction around the table. The top and bottom rails carry 6 bolts each, and the remaining rails at the sides carry 5 bolts each. That makes a total of 32 bolts.

        (2) Steel Blocked cushions
        There is a thread under "Table" that is headed "Steel Blocked Cushions - Advantages and Disadvantages" (or something close as I recall). You should have a read there. In it, there is some input by Geoff Large (a table fitter). He says that Steel Blocked cushions are a failed experiment. I have to agree with him based on my experience with both. In the end, if you are using Northern Rubber and the cushions are still slow then it must be down to some other cause.

        There are 2 questions that immediately come to mind:
        (a) Did you allow a sufficient period of time and play to allow the cushion cloth to "relax"?
        (b) Assuming these are new cushion rubbers, did you allow a sufficient amount of "bruising-in" of the cushions?
        Both of these can cause cushion rebound to be slow. Both are also mentioned somewhere-abouts in these forums (likely under "Tables"). You should spend some time having a good read - you may even find other things of interest.

        Comment


        • #5
          Thank you for your reply. I've been waiting for someone to reply in detail and u r the one who did. Yes this table has been a DIY hobby of mine. The top and bottom cushions carry 6 bolts each and the rest of the four side cushions carry 5 bolts each. The reason is that when I drilled the holes for slate bolts my measurements suggested a hole to be drilled in a very edge of the slates so I fixed the problem by resorting to only 5 bolts in all the four side rails instead of 6.
          You'll also be surprised to learn that the table bed is made of two-inch thick white marble instead of slate. It is cut to order for me by a kitchen top manufacturer and honed using a 1930 style shaper lathe at a friend's steel workshop. It may seem ridiculous but those were the only materials and tools available to me.
          Now to your questions. The table is several years old now so there shouldn't be any issue mentioned by you.
          Yes I used Northern Rubber in them. One of the possible causes could be using 5 bolts instead of 6, because the top and bottom cushions that have 6 bolts each in them respond much better. Additionally, there may be flaws in the construction of the cushion rail itself . After all it is my conclusion that there is always a GIVE factor in standard cushions which is a major cause of the dull response. So I concluded that most of the flaws that blunt the cushion response can be overcome by using a steel block. Although steel block cushion have their own demerits as well.
          Originally posted by Joe_ View Post
          If you built that table - all power to you. It looks great (although I wasn't able to access the 1st photo for some reason).

          There are two points which I want to address here:

          (1) Number of bolts in each rail
          When you say "only five bolts each in the four side-rails instead of six" I am a bit confused. There are 6 rails - each separated by a side or corner pocket. These are normally numbered from 1 to 6, starting from the bottom rail and counting in a clockwise direction around the table. The top and bottom rails carry 6 bolts each, and the remaining rails at the sides carry 5 bolts each. That makes a total of 32 bolts.

          (2) Steel Blocked cushions
          There is a thread under "Table" that is headed "Steel Blocked Cushions - Advantages and Disadvantages" (or something close as I recall). You should have a read there. In it, there is some input by Geoff Large (a table fitter). He says that Steel Blocked cushions are a failed experiment. I have to agree with him based on my experience with both. In the end, if you are using Northern Rubber and the cushions are still slow then it must be down to some other cause.

          There are 2 questions that immediately come to mind:
          (a) Did you allow a sufficient period of time and play to allow the cushion cloth to "relax"?
          (b) Assuming these are new cushion rubbers, did you allow a sufficient amount of "bruising-in" of the cushions?
          Both of these can cause cushion rebound to be slow. Both are also mentioned somewhere-abouts in these forums (likely under "Tables"). You should spend some time having a good read - you may even find other things of interest.
          Last edited by hsn; 22nd January 2012, 07:22 PM.

          Comment


          • #6
            @hsn,

            Assuming that you:
            - used a dense hardwood like brazilian mahogany to make the main part of all the rails, and
            - also used a matched set of Northern Rubber,
            I fail to understand why the cushions are slow. Mind you, although the main part of the rail is made from a hardwood, the parts that the cushion are stuck to are really made from a softwood (normally douglas fir). The latter are screwed on to the mahogany. The softwood is used to enable tacking or stapling of the cloth to it.

            You say that the top and bottom cushions respond better than the side, and you attribute this to using 6 bolts on these as opposed to 5 in the sides. All the non-steel backed tables I've met use the same bolting arrangement as yours, so I fail to see that as the cause. I have a different idea. I feel:
            - The top cushion, in particular, get the most "played against" and will get played-in before the others.
            - Even though the table is a few years old, it may still not get the kind of "bruising-in" that is required. I say this because it is a private table and not a club table.

            I'm a bit sceptical that steel blocks will help your cause because I've played on both and fail to see any great difference that can be attributed to using steel blocks. In fact, I've met some non-steel blocked tables that were every bit as responsive, if not better than their steel blocked cousins.

            Having said the above, if you are still set on fitting steel blocks I can only provide the following of the top of my head:
            1. The steel used is about 3/8 or 7/16 inch thick.
            2. There are horizontal slots in the steel for bolting it to the slate (marble in your case). These slots allow a certain amount of adjustment for the pocket openings.
            I am sorry that I don't have more information to hand. The most that I can try to do is take some pictures and measurements whenever I encounter one again, and send them to you (hopefully I'll remember).

            I admire your fortitude. It really would be a shame seeing how far you have come in realising your dream to be stumped.

            Comment


            • #7
              Full respect to you for building that! Should be able to get a load of help from folk on here, though seems hardly anybody has replied at all!
              One day I'll make a century, I've knocked in a 51!

              Comment


              • #8
                Thanks a lot for your refreshing reply! I'd be looking forward to your post with the measurements of steel plates. I have got some pictures of them but I want to be certain about their dimensions.

                The main part of the rail is made of 3-inch thick solid Indian Rosewood which is an extremely hard wood. (In fact my friend still complains that I blunted and even broken his tools building my table.) The inner part onto which the rubber is glued is Douglas fir which is also glued and nailed onto the main cushion part. The cushion rubber was bought packed, stamped Northern Rubber molded cushions, Retford Sep 2001.

                One more thing about my table. I've noticed that the cushions respond better when balls hit them at a slow-medium pace but as soon as a ball hits them a bit harder then they make a thud or say a dull sound and you can easily tell that the rebound is greatly effected/reduced.

                I am unable to understand this phenomenon. I've tried tightening the cushion bolts, checked the angle and height of the cushions but there doesn't seem to be any serious problem.

                There is a slight problem with the slabs though; the four side cushions have some packing between the slab and the main cushion rail where the slate bolts are situated. The slabs were not exactly the same size that's why the crease of the table bed was not in a perfect straight line along the sides of the table. I have to adjust them but it left a tolerance ranging from a millimeter up to 3 millimeters. That's where I had to pack thin pieces of thin ply-board and even Formica.

                I think this gap is a big part of the problem.

                Yes I am planning to fit steel plates to my table. But first I have to get rid of present table bed. I am planning to purchase new two-inch-thick marble slabs and have them cut. I need another advice here. My present bed consists of 5 pieces of 29 x 75 inch slabs. This time I plan to have the center piece cut 27 inches wide instead of 29 and the adjacent two pieces cut 31-inch-wide. This will resolve the issue and I will be able to drill 6 holes for the four side cushions without having to drill a hole very close to the edge of the slab No 2 & 4. The outer two pieces will be 29 inches each though.

                I do not want to be disappointed this time that's why I plan to go for steel blocked cushions. I've also played on a few very responsive tables that are not steel blocked but I just want to make sure.

                This is also a fact that it's going be another expedition of mine because I'll have to buy a 12mm thick steel sheet and turn it into RILEY steel plates from the scratch. That is why I need all the measurements for!

                Originally posted by Joe_ View Post
                @hsn,

                Assuming that you:
                - used a dense hardwood like brazilian mahogany to make the main part of all the rails, and
                - also used a matched set of Northern Rubber,
                I fail to understand why the cushions are slow. Mind you, although the main part of the rail is made from a hardwood, the parts that the cushion are stuck to are really made from a softwood (normally douglas fir). The latter are screwed on to the mahogany. The softwood is used to enable tacking or stapling of the cloth to it.

                You say that the top and bottom cushions respond better than the side, and you attribute this to using 6 bolts on these as opposed to 5 in the sides. All the non-steel backed tables I've met use the same bolting arrangement as yours, so I fail to see that as the cause. I have a different idea. I feel:
                - The top cushion, in particular, get the most "played against" and will get played-in before the others.
                - Even though the table is a few years old, it may still not get the kind of "bruising-in" that is required. I say this because it is a private table and not a club table.

                I'm a bit sceptical that steel blocks will help your cause because I've played on both and fail to see any great difference that can be attributed to using steel blocks. In fact, I've met some non-steel blocked tables that were every bit as responsive, if not better than their steel blocked cousins.

                Having said the above, if you are still set on fitting steel blocks I can only provide the following of the top of my head:
                1. The steel used is about 3/8 or 7/16 inch thick.
                2. There are horizontal slots in the steel for bolting it to the slate (marble in your case). These slots allow a certain amount of adjustment for the pocket openings.
                I am sorry that I don't have more information to hand. The most that I can try to do is take some pictures and measurements whenever I encounter one again, and send them to you (hopefully I'll remember).

                I admire your fortitude. It really would be a shame seeing how far you have come in realising your dream to be stumped.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by hsn View Post
                  ...but it left a tolerance ranging from a millimeter up to 3 millimeters. That's where I had to pack thin pieces of thin ply-board and even Formica.

                  I think this gap is a big part of the problem.
                  IMHO, that's the problem. Using thin plywood to shim-up the inaccuracies will prevent the rails from bolting solidly to the slate/marble. Any detracting from the rails being solidly bolted will negatively affect how the cushions play. Plywood not being that solid will necessarily absorb some of the impact.

                  Just for argument sake, if you were to take this a further step and used strips of bedcloth in place of the plywood, don't you think that it would "muffle" the bounce of the ball. I know it sound ridiculous but I'm just trying to make a point.

                  I don't think it'll make much difference whether you use 5 or 6 bolts in each side rail once you are able to bolt them directly to the bed with nothing more than necessary in between.

                  Your describing the difference in cushion response of slow-medium versus hard shots only adds more evidence to what I think. I'm no "table expert" but I don't think it's rocket science either.

                  Again, steel blocks are a failure according to other fitters - BUT you seem determined where that is concerned.

                  One last thing. Getting marble pieces made, and now... steel blocks! Isn't it cheaper and easier to buy a used table from England and ship it to where ever you live. Now if you tell me that you wanted to make one with a marble bed because it would be somewhat unique, I can understand that - but the expense and trouble you have been through sounds crazy.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Thanks you Joe for your thoughts. Yeah I have always been skeptic about the effects of those tiny gaps. In practice I have observed that you cannot do without the use of shim-ups even if the corner of the slate/marble are perfectly aligned. Since you cannot make an exact pair of cushions that will fit on the side of the table (creating middle pocket) you end up in resorting to shims in order to perfectly align the pair of side cushions. (I mean to say when you fit finished cushions to the table you always sit at a corner pocket with one eye closed aiming along the nose of the rubber cushion across the table past the center pocket down to the far corner pocket to check whether both side cushions are perfectly in one line). There is always a need for tightening or loosing certain bolts in order to rule out the bends along the two side rails and to make the line straight that the noses of both the cushions create. There is always a minor difference between a pair of cushions even if you somehow manage to build them with 0.05mm tolerance (which is impossible in woodworking). When you fix the cloth on a pair of exactly same-sized cushions even a minor difference in the tightness of the cushion cloth makes them differ.

                    Due to these reasons I am inclined to favor steel plates. Steel is mush solid than the wood. It can be machined to much finer tolerances. And most importantly you can use steel shim-ups with no adverse effects.
                    These are my thoughts please do correct me if I am wrong. I’ve built my own table from the scratch that’s why I have some knowledge of the practical difficulties that otherwise may seem not much.

                    I have no idea how much a used table will cost me let alone the shipping costs. And everyone knows that the major problem that the used tables face is usually the sagged and humped slates.

                    I have the frame of the table ready; I can manage to get the marble bed ready in as little as 200 Pounds sterling plus another 150 Pounds for the steel blocks finished. Can you tell me if I can buy a set of slate and steel plates in the UK for 350 Pounds? Let alone shipping them to Nepal!
                    Please do guide me...


                    Originally posted by Joe_ View Post
                    IMHO, that's the problem. Using thin plywood to shim-up the inaccuracies will prevent the rails from bolting solidly to the slate/marble. Any detracting from the rails being solidly bolted will negatively affect how the cushions play. Plywood not being that solid will necessarily absorb some of the impact.

                    Just for argument sake, if you were to take this a further step and used strips of bedcloth in place of the plywood, don't you think that it would "muffle" the bounce of the ball. I know it sound ridiculous but I'm just trying to make a point.

                    I don't think it'll make much difference whether you use 5 or 6 bolts in each side rail once you are able to bolt them directly to the bed with nothing more than necessary in between.

                    Your describing the difference in cushion response of slow-medium versus hard shots only adds more evidence to what I think. I'm no "table expert" but I don't think it's rocket science either.

                    Again, steel blocks are a failure according to other fitters - BUT you seem determined where that is concerned.

                    One last thing. Getting marble pieces made, and now... steel blocks! Isn't it cheaper and easier to buy a used table from England and ship it to where ever you live. Now if you tell me that you wanted to make one with a marble bed because it would be somewhat unique, I can understand that - but the expense and trouble you have been through sounds crazy.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      HSN

                      The sizes are as follows:-

                      End cushion steel 96mm x 10mm x 1733mm
                      Side cushion steel 96mm x 10 mm x 1714mm
                      Cloth retaining Groove measuring 7mm x 5mm for is milled the length of the steel 6mm from the top

                      The ends of the steels are cut at an angle with a mitred edge. I`ll have to measure these angles and post later.

                      Each cushion has 6 bolts. On the side cushions these are measured 4.25 inches from the centre of the middle pocket and every 12 inches thereafter. Ie 16.25 inch 28.25 inch etc.

                      The end cushions have 6 bolts 12 inches apart. measure the centre of the end slate, then measure 6 inches left and right from the centre point and 12 inches apart therafter.

                      IMG00322-20120131-1513.jpgIMG00326-20120131-1514.jpgIMG00323-20120131-1513.jpgIMG00324-20120131-1513.jpg

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        My friend Maryfield you are a star!

                        Many many thanks... I am much obliged

                        Can you please let me know of what make these steel plates are?

                        When you measure the angles could you please also measure the number of holes for screws (that go into the wooden part at the back of the rubber) in each steel plate. How far is the first such hole is situated from the corner of the steel plate?

                        Could you please also measure the position of the holes for the outer (or main) wooden cushion part. As far as I know there are four holes for that purpose on each plate but what I don't know is how far apart they are situated.

                        I've found this very informative web-link today as well: http://www.englishbilliards.org/MakingCushionsPart1

                        Looking forward to your next post.

                        Take care buddy!
                        Last edited by hsn; 1st February 2012, 02:56 AM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I`ll get those measurements today for you. Yes there are 4 bolts which hold the frieze to the steel. However these are not critical as you will be boring your own ones in the steels so the simply need to match them up. I will also measure the length of the friezes. The two end ones are slightly longer.

                          This set is a steel made by BCE.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Hello My friend
                            Still waiting for your post I hope you are all right.
                            Originally posted by maryfield View Post
                            I`ll get those measurements today for you. Yes there are 4 bolts which hold the frieze to the steel. However these are not critical as you will be boring your own ones in the steels so the simply need to match them up. I will also measure the length of the friezes. The two end ones are slightly longer.

                            This set is a steel made by BCE.

                            Comment

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