We are asked the question of what makes this brand of pool table better than that brand of pool table pretty much every day. The complete answer to this question is quite long so please be prepared to take more than juts a few minutes (depending on how fast you read I suppose) to study what we have to say about these things. So the first thing you need to realize is that when you ask this question to most sales people then they will try and sell you on whatever particular table they think you are interested in or they will try and up-sell you to a more expensive table by telling you whatever they think will do the trick. We want you to be completely satisfied with whatever decision you decide to make. We tell you the actual answer to this question and then let you make an informed decision on what’s best for you. We won’t push you one direction or the other. It’s your game room and you should feel completely comfortable with whatever choices you decide to make on your own. So there are several things that can make a difference to you like the quality of the pool tables design and construction, the quality of the pool tables cushion rubber, it’s slate thickness, pockets, and fabric style.
Frame / cabinet construction:
The construction of a pool tables base frame / cabinet will make a difference on the tables overall sturdiness. The thickness of the external cabinet on what we describe as a slope sided or a straight sided cabinet and the materials utilized to manufacture these does make a difference for sure. A slope sided cabinet / frame is one that has a slope or angle to the large side and end panel parts of the cabinet which you can see from the outside of the pool table. Straight sided cabinets are those in which the larger end and side panels are oriented in a completely vertical position. The larger panels on either of these designs can be made of many different types of materials like presswood (sometimes referred to as pressedwood) or MDF (medium density fiberboard), cheap plywood, high quality plywood with a real wood veneer on the outside or solid wood. All of these come in different thicknesses. Obviously the thicker the material the better but the particular material used will make a difference as well. The worst performing and weakest of these materials is the presswood. However if a presswood style cabinet has some high quality plywood properly attached to it on the inside then it can still be very sturdy. I wouldn’t necessarily rule out a pool table with presswood side panels as long as it is properly lined internally, but I would strongly suggest staying away from any billiard table that has unlined exterior frame panels made of presswood, MDF or cheap plywood. Presswood and MDF frame panels will usually have a plastic laminate like Formica attached to the outside for it’s visual effects. These laminates can look like real wood, stone or metal due to an image being printed on the material that’s laminated to its exterior. Some folks are fooled by the image and actually believe it’s real wood or whatever it looks like. MDF is slightly sturdier than the presswood material but it still does not have enough strength to support anything other than a non slate type playing field. Again if the MDF is internally lined with good quality 3/4′ thick plywood then it can still make for a sturdy pool table as long as the construction of the cabinets corners, legs and other things are hefty enough to do their jobs as well. You should keep in mind that there are plenty of presswood and MDF panels which are lined but they are many times lined with a really cheap version of so called plywood. Personally I have a hard time calling this stuff plywood at all. Anyway panels lined with this type of plywood are better than having no liner at all but that’s all I can say for it.
Cabinet Corner Construction:
Internal Slate Support Beams:
All pool tables come with internal slate support beams that help support the weight of the slates. These slate support beams can be made of press wood, MDF board, the really cheap version of plywood, high quality plywood or solid wood. The strength of these materials vary just as I described above in the cabinet construction section, However no thickness of presswood will do the job period. MDF isn’t much better in this area either. Cheap versions of so called plywood don’t cut it either. Real high quality plywood in at least a 3/4″ thickness will do. !.5″ plywood beams are twice as strong. Truthfully the beams made of plywood on edge are the strongest of all but it just doesn’t look as reliable or expensive as solid wood and that’s exactly why sold wood beams are used instead of plywood here on upper end price ranged pool tables. When solid poplar wood is used for internal slate support beams then it is very substantial as long as it’s at least 1.5″ thick. Even pine is sufficient here as long as it’s 2.5″ thick. The way these beams are attached to the side and end cabinet walls makes a difference as well. Not many low end price ranged pool tables attach these support beams with thinner metal brackets which aren’t really as strong as they should or even could be. They do do the trick as long as the materials they are connecting are sufficient enough to make up for the difference. However sales personal will many times brag about their so and so thickness but they are just making it sound better than it actually is. Pretty much none describes a part of any item they are trying to sell in a negative way. Sure steel brackets are better than plastic but nobody uses plastic when the job calls for steel. If they actually did then they would call it a heavy duty space age plastic super polymer just to make it sound good whether or not it was only going to last just a few weeks before it breaks. In reality there probably are some plastics out there these days that are stronger than some of the cheap steel brackets used on pool tables these days.
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