My quest to build a High End Pooltable

My gift to the Billiards Community

Installing the slate liner, cutting the pocket, leveling the slate

11/18/2000 I got the slate put on the frame weekend before last. Smashed the heck out of my finger doing it also (as you will notice in the expenses section I added neosporin and band aids to the price list, thanks gideon for the idea to add it to the expenses :) ). But as Monte Python says "Merely a flesh wound". I put it on upside down because I needed to put on the poplar slate liner to do this I used the 1 x 8 poplar that I purchased and went around the outside of each piece except where the seams are. There I ripped one of the 1 X 8 poplar pieces down the middle. I glued 2 pieces a night because I did not have enough C Clamps to do all of them at once. I used Tightbond II to mount the poplar to the slate. Now for the pockets I took my square and slid it out so the end of the rule touched the slate inside the pocket. I layed the measurement out on the top of the poplar. I took my jig saw and cut out the excess poplar leaving about 1/8 - 1/4 inch lip (being very careful not to cut the slate). The center pockets were a little more tricky. I found a paint can that fit perfectly inside the side pocket and drew a line around it on the top of the poplar then just cut inside the line.

I then asked my neighbor to help flip the slate back over and put it pretty close to the final position it will sit. I went out and bought a straight cutting bit for my router. These bits are different than all other bits because the bearing is on the top of blade. They are also known as template bits. It will work well with a lot of the other things that we need to do with the rails. They range in price from $20 to $25 and are a necessity when doing a project like this. When routing the pockets you want to keep the router level with the slate and take around 1/2 inch cuts into the poplar and then readjust your router and take another pass. If you try to take too deep of a cut your bit will "chatter". Not a good thing when you want a smooth pocket face. I should mention at this point that there is a possibility that you will score the inside of the slate when routing the pocket. This is actually a good thing. When your slate was cut at the rock mill the inside of your pocket was not flush. You are going to fix this now. When you get done your pocket will look like the picture to the left. Also you will see a shot of the pocket with the router bit I was talking about.

Now comes the fun part!!! We make an attempt to level the slate. There is a reason that you let the slate sit on top of the frame and the frame on top of the carpet for a week. This will allow the feet to dig into the carpet and put permanent dents in it. Thus if you tried to level the frame when you first put the slate on you will find out that it is unlevel in a couple of days. So after you leave it set for a while go rent yourself or ask around for a machinists level. It is really the only way to precisely level a table. Find the lowest point and put a floor jack under the leg support and jack up that end of the table until you are pretty close to level. Make up some shims out of the left over poplar that you have from the slate liner. Make sure if you are using a lot of shims with one on top of another glue them together. That way if someone leans into the table it will not slide on the shims. Once you have adjusted the low end up. Then go for the left and right. My garage floor, where the table will sit, has a slope of 1 1/4 inches to it so my shims on one end are pretty thick.

Once you get it pretty close to level (you will have one slate that is out of level and two others that are pretty close) we are looking for a happy meduim here. You then get yourself 3 decks of playing cards. No we are not going to play solitare at this point. We are going to cut them in half and use them to shim the slate. The first thing you want to look for is the highest seam (where one slate piece is higher than another at the seam) that is the slate you will start with first. Slide the slates so they are where they will sit when they are bolted down. You will place shims at four points two on each side to start. Level the highest slate by placing shims under the lowest points of the slate. Be sure to put weight on the sides when you think you are close because shims can be deceiving. You press down on a side and find out that the slate wobbles thus when you put a screw in it, it will warp the slate. So make sure that it is secure on all 4 points. Then shim up the next piece of slate so that the seams match then level that piece. Level the third piece seam to the second pieces seam and then level the last piece. When you are done all 3 pieces should be level and the seams have no high points . The easiest way to level the seam is to take one of the uncut playing cards and with a light behind it lay it on edge by the seam. If it is level you will see no light from under the card. And the final test is to spin a ball in place. As you can see in the picture the sixball is spinning like a top. If you are the least bit unlevel the ball will spin towards the lowest point.

I got Granito cloth, Championship rail cushions, rail mount plates (4 per rail) available at Ozone Park Billiards and have updated the expenses section of the website. So now the grand total comes to $1539.62, still 61 bucks under budget. Not too shabby if I do say so myself. Next week I will tell you how to drill the slate to mount it to the frame. See you then...

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