DIY Project: How to restore old pool tables

The noble game of pool, or billiards, has a long and very rich history. The game has been played by kings to commoners and everyone in between. It evolved from a game that was played on a grass field, similar to croquet, around the 15th century in Northern Europe and France. The game evolved to a point where it was moved to be played indoors on a wooden table with green cloth that simulates grass, and a border around the edges. Today this is what we call a snooker table or pool table (depending on the kind of game being played). Back in the day, balls were being shoved, instead of struck, with wooden sticks they called “maces”. Nowadays we hit the balls with a stick called a “cue”.


Modern day pool is played on pool tables that have six openings called pockets. There are a number of balls on the table, which will vary depending on the kind of game you are playing, that are to be struck with a long stick, called a cue. The aim of the game is to get your balls into these pockets, by using only your cue, before your competition does the same.


Pool consists of a few different games, such as banks, straight pool, 8 ball and 9 ball. Snooker is its own variation of Pool and is played on a much bigger snooker table. It’s more strategic than regular pool as you have to sink certain balls that have points attached to them in order to win the game. You play with all the balls on the table and not just your own colour. You also have to nominate the colour of the balls you are trying to sink in order to obtain the points. Fluke shots don’t count in Snooker.


Modern day pool is incredibly popular, mainly due to the fact that it’s quick to play and very social. You have to play against an opponent and you can also have multiple people on each team. Most social gathering places such a bars and pubs have pool tables available. These places utilize coin operated pool tables which require a coin to be inserted into the table to release the balls, much like an arcade game. There are even places that are built to specifically cater for the playing of this sport, called pool halls. Pool leagues are also a massive contributor to the sport and keep the game popular.


If you want to get into this sport then you will need to find a pool or snooker table for sale. When looking for a Pool table for sale one should consider the follow: Pool Tables are very expensive, so you might want to go for a second hand one. The issue here is due to the nature of the game, pool tables will eventually wear down. It can be quite costly to get them fixed if the table isn’t in great shape. One way to go is to refurbish your own table. This might sound like a daunting task, but have no fear, we are going to explain how you can restore old pool tables to a pristine condition.


Restoring old snooker or pool tables

1. Remove the old felt

The felt is normally the first thing to wear out on a pool table as this is the area that has the most wear and tear. Luckily it is relatively inexpensive to replace this. First you need to take the pool table apart. Start by removing the pockets, this will give you access to the bolts holding the railing down. Lift off the rails and the felt will now be removable. Put the railings in a safe place so you don’t damage them, as these are exposed when the table is complete.


2. Seal the seams between the slates

With the rails off, the felt can now be peeled back off of the slate (there should be three large slates directly underneath the felt lining). You need to make sure that these slates are perfectly smooth and aligned. If there are dents or imperfections then you need to smooth this out with beeswax. You need to heat the wax and pour it over the imperfections. Once it dries you can scrape off the excess. If the pool table is very old then you might want to think about replacing the wax anyway as it extends the lifespan of the pool table.

3. Attach the new felt

First you will need to buy a new felt lining. You can purchase these in a kit that comes with the felt, tacks and sometimes new rails, but if you want to keep costs down then just buy the replacement felt and attach it to the table using a stapler. This is done by laying the felt over the slate and stapling down the one side. Then stretch the felt evenly over the slate, make sure there are no wrinkles, and staple the other side down. Cut out holes for the pockets, then reattach the rails and pocket covers.

4. Balance the table

As time goes by, a pool or snooker table will wear out. Playing on or moving the tale around will eventually cause it to become unbalanced. This imbalance can make the table useless as it will cause the balls to roll around uncontrollably. If you suspect your pool table is unbalanced, you can use two levels to find this out. Put each level in the center of the table but facing in opposite directions. This way you can see which side is causing the sag.


Now that you know where the issue is, you can adjust the height of one of the table’s legs to remedy the imbalance. Most tables will have screws in the legs so you can adjust the height. If this is the case, then simply turn the screw in the leg that is shorter than the rest, to adjust the height until the table is level. If there isn’t a height adjusting screw then you can use pieces of plywood. Position the pieces under the short leg until the table is level, then secure the pieces of wood to the bottom of the leg using a screw.

5. Refinish the rails

The railings on your pool or snooker table might be a bit dented or warn down. If you have plastic rails, then you have to replace these, but if they are wooden then you can restore them. This can be done by simply sanding down the railings with sandpaper. If the rails are smooth, then a power sander can be used, but if they have carvings in them then a very light gauge sandpaper is the tool for the job. Make sure you remove any old paint or varnish. Now you can use a stain to bring out the wood’s natural texture. There are many different shades of stain so make sure it matches the rest of your table. After this you should paint a few layers of varnish on the railings to protect the wood and make it shine.


Your pool or snooker table should now be in pristine condition. There is nothing better than having a game of pool on a newly restored table, so enjoy it.


If you want to go the route of restoring your own pool table, then there are a few trusted suppliers of pool table accessories in South Africa. One of these suppliers is Pool Table Spares. They have a wide range of stock and mainly supply the Western Cape Province. If you are looking for someone in the Gauteng area, then United King of Pool Tables can help you out.


If you want to get someone else to handle the restoration for you, then there are also companies that specialise in restoring pool or snooker tables. Once such company is Union Billiards. They have been in the game for over 60 years so they know what they are doing. They are in the Gauteng area. Another company is Black Ball who operate in the Western Province. Both of these companies can refurbish everything from standard to coin operated pool tables.

pool balls

We hope that we have helped you to learn how to fix up your old pool table. If you are looking for a pool table for sale or a snooker table for sale then Junk Mail is the place to do it. We have a wide range of quality pool tables for you to look at. If you want to sell your table, then place your free ad on today!

Bruce Ungersbock

Bruce is an SEO guy that has his eye on the prize and traffic on his mind. A lover of good music and a connoisseur of all things awesome.

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