The Pool Table Rails
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he pool table rails are usually made of hardwood and are a part of the entire rail assembly. This assembly includes the cushions, apron, and pockets, and attaches to the slate bed.
There are six pockets on the standard pool table - one at each corner and one each in the middle of the long rails. The pocket assemblies also serve to hold the rails together at the corners of the table. The term "rail" refers to the wooden part of the rail assemblies while the "cushions" are the rubber parts.
The pictures above show some rails in different stages of assembly. In the left picture, a rail is shown before covering. The darker brown area is the rubber cushion that is bonded to the wood of the rail. The right picture shows a rail upside down, and gives a good view of the staples which hold the table cloth to the rail. The vertical piece of wood is the apron.
Pool table rails are typically from 5 to 7 inches in width. They provide a mounting surface for the cushions to attach to and a place to rest the hand on when shooting. On many tables, diamond-shaped inlays of different materials are set into the top surface of the rails at certain intervals, as an aid to banking and shot making.
The picture above shows some finished rail assemblies being attached to the pool table bed. Notice that the pockets are mounted directly to the rails and are installed at the same time.
The cushions in modern pool table construction are usually made of vulcanized rubber. This material permits the balls to rebound accurately off the rails without losing much kinetic energy. These cushions are bonded to the wooden rails.
The cushions are made in a triangular shape so that only a small point of rubber actually contacts the pool ball as it bounces off the rail. This contact point is called the nose, and the height of the nose above the bed of the table is called the nose height. The optimum nose height is 64% of the diameter of a 2 1/4 inch ball.
Images courtesy of bryan472 and Photo© 2006 Mark Patel.
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