The Pool Table Slate
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ool table slate is the traditional material of choice for the bed of the pool table, in thicknesses from 3/4 inch to 2 inches, with 1 to 1 1/4 inches being a common size. As a rule, the more expensive the table, the thicker the slate.
Slate is formed when clay sediment and other minerals settle at the bottom of a body of water. This sediment hardens into thin, compressed layers which form the very hard, flat rock that slate becomes.
Slate can be ground and polished fairly easily into a flat, smooth surface that is ideal for playing pool and billiards. It is found all over the world, including major exporters India and China, but the best slate typically comes from either Italy or Brazil.
Because of the great weight of slate, it is impractical to ship and handle a pool-table size piece. For this reason, and to help prevent stress fractures, a typical pool table slate is cut into three slabs, each weighing about 150 to 200 pounds. Bee's wax is used to fill the slight gap between the sections of slate when they are assembled.
The slate of most quality pool tables is often backed either by plywood or a wooden frame. This has the benefit of strengthening the slate, preventing damage in handling, and providing a surface to staple the table cloth to.
The slate on a good pool table will be oversized to provide additional strength and a larger mounting surface for the rail assemblies. Holes are drilled into the slate where bolts are run through to mount it to the table frame. Semi-circular cutouts are made in the slate where the pockets are located.
Cheaper pool tables may substitute wood, plastic, or a wood composite such as medium density fiberboard instead of slate. This pool table construction method is inferior as this material will warp much more easily than slate, especially if the table is kept in a damp area such as a cellar.
Next page - The Pool Table Cloth
Images courtesy of Byran472 and Citizenbystander
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