Guide to Buying Used Pool Tables
There are a few reasons why someone might consider purchasing a used game. The most obvious reason is cost. Generally used machines are less expensive than their brand-new shiny counterparts, but not always. This can vary depending on the age and type of game. Some games have become collectables while others are just still fun to play after all these years.
The following is a guide to help you through the process of buying a used game for your entertainment area.
Getting a good deal on a quality pool table isn’t easy but can be worth your time if you’re patient.
Most high-end or antique pool tables are passed down through families making the used pool table market a little difficult to navigate. Buyer beware- there are a lot of low quality tables out there, but if you know what to look for, you can find that diamond in the rough, for the right price.
Is the table going to go into a home or business? If you answered ‘business’, you’ll want to focus on a bar style table, with a coin and/or bill acceptor. If you answered ‘home’ virtually any other table will work. While you’re thinking about where it’s going, also figure out how much room you have to place the table. Optimally you want to have between 54”-60” (or more) from the rails of the table to the nearest wall. So be sure to add that to the overall size of table when considering space.
Once you find a table that fits your needs you’ll want to inspect it.
-Construction- If at all possible, feel and touch the table to see how sturdy it is. The table should not move at all. Look under the table for the supports that hold the slate. Are they sizable wood beams? Preferably you want 2-4” wood (or metal) supports under the table, running side-to-side. A support running end-to-end is even better in conjunction with the side-to-side supports. Inspect the leg braces to see if they have enough support. Lastly, look at the legs and feet for defects or water damage.
-Rail Cushion- Touch the rails and test them out by bouncing a billiard ball off of each rail multiple times. The rail should be firm but not hard and the ball should bounce at least back across the table to the opposite rail with moderate force. Rails can last anywhere between 2 years to over 10 depending on their environment and usage. If the ball seems to die when it impacts the rail, you’re going to want new rail rubber.
-Slate- No matter what table you get you are going to want to make sure its playing surface is slate and not wood. Wood-topped tables will warp and are usually light enough to inadvertently move while playing. Slate is heavy rock and will not warp or move. Slates come in 1 or 3 pieces and in varying thicknesses. It can be hard to tell by just looking at the table if it is slate because it will most likely be covered by felt. The best way to see is from underneath the table depending on the kind of table and slate. Some slates have a wood frames making them appear to be wood from the side profile, when they are actually slate. These will usually show some slate in the middle of the frame. Another way to check is to knock on the surface of a table. Wood will have a much hollower sound than slate. Slate is extremely heavy but essential if you want a quality playing surface that will stand the wear and tear of billiards.
-Felt- The felt table cloth is probably the easiest aspect of the table to determine if it is still good or not. Any table that has seen any action whatsoever is going to be sporting some drink stains and occasional miscue scuffs. Stains and scuffs shouldn’t impact the quality of game play but if there are any tears, holes or thin spots, plan on replacing all of the felt on the table. A professional felt recovery of your table will make it look almost new and will last for years!
-Pockets vs. Ball Return- If the table has a ball return make sure to test the return tracks to ensure they function correctly. If the table has pockets (leather or plastic) inspect them for cracking and tearing. Pockets are relatively easy to find replacements for most major makes of tables.
-Age of table- Finding the age can be important for determining the value of the table. Some tables will have a maker’s mark inside the cabinet that will give the year it was made. Other tables will have model numbers that can be cross referenced with the manufacturer to find the age of the table. This can also be helpful if the table is still in production, making parts that much easier to find and purchase.
-Materials- Analyze the materials that the table is constructed from. Make sure it is solid wood and not composite with a veneer. If the table is made from substandard materials it will not stand up to the wear that pool tables typically need to endure.
It is always a good idea to research the make and model of the table in question. Sticking to major manufacturers is also a good idea for purposes of finding replacement parts and technical support.
If at all possible look at and play the table in person before deciding to buy it. Be wary of tables that are already deconstructed, being that there is a risk of missing parts.
We strongly suggest having whatever table you decide to buy moved and set-up professionally. Moving a pool table is far more complicated than a lot of people know. Besides possibly damaging the game, your house and causing personal injury, re-felting and leveling the slate and table is a tedious and involved process.
Finally make sure to compare prices between new and used tables. In some cases a used table may be less expensive but after having to repair and move it, the end cost could be comparable to buying a new table and having it delivered.