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What to Look for When Buying a 2nd Hand Pool Table

Buying a second-hand pool table can be an exciting journey into the world of billiards without the hefty price tag of a brand-new table. However, to ensure you're getting value for your money and a table that lasts, it's vital to know what to look for. Here's a comprehensive guide to aid you in this process.

What to Look for When Buying a 2nd Hand Pool Table

1. Size and Space

Before delving into the specifics of the table itself, consider the space where you plan to place it. There's no use getting a great deal on an 8-foot table if your room can only accommodate a 7-footer. Ensure there's ample space around the table for players to take shots without hindrance.

2. Slate Quality and Thickness

The heart of any good pool table is its slate. Slate provides the smooth and flat playing surface necessary for accurate play. Check for:

  • Thickness: A thickness of at least 3/4 inch is preferred, with 1-inch being considered professional-grade.

  • Seams: If the table uses multiple slate pieces, the seams should be virtually undetectable to ensure smooth ball movement.

  • Cracks or chips: These can significantly affect play. Lightly run your hand over the surface to feel for imperfections.

3. Table Frame

The frame supports the heavy slate and ensures the table remains stable during play. Look for:

  • Sturdiness: No wobbling or creaking when you lean slightly on the table.

  • Material: Hardwood frames tend to last longer and offer better support than MDF or particleboard.

4. Rails and Cushions

The rails and cushions play a significant role in the game, influencing the bounce and trajectory of balls. Here’s what to inspect:

  • Consistent bounce: Drop a ball onto the table from about 12 inches. It should bounce up consistently without any dead spots.

  • Secure attachment: Rails should be tightly attached to the slate, with no gaps.

  • No cracks: While some wear is acceptable, cracks can hinder gameplay.

5. Cloth/Felt Quality

A worn-out cloth can be replaced, but it's an added cost. Look for:

  • Smoothness: No pilling or rough patches.

  • Tears or rips: Small tears can expand over time, so consider the replacement cost.

  • Cleanliness: Stains can sometimes be cleaned, but they might hint at the table's overall maintenance.

6. Pockets

Whether you're looking at a drop pocket or a ball-return system, ensure:

  • Integrity: No tears, holes, or excessive wear in the leather or rubber of the pockets.

  • Functionality: In ball-return systems, ensure balls travel smoothly to the collection area.

7. Leg Levelers

If the table has adjustable leg levelers, they're a bonus, especially for uneven floors. Check their condition and functionality.

8. Overall Aesthetics

While gameplay is paramount, you also want a table that looks good:

  • Woodwork: Check for chips, dents, or scratches. While some can be repaired, others might be too prominent to ignore.

  • Design: Does it fit with your room's aesthetic?

9. Accessories

Sometimes, sellers include cues, balls, racks, and covers with the table. Ensure these are in decent condition or factor in potential replacement costs.

Cloth Felt Quality

10. Price vs. Quality

While the allure of a cheap table can be tempting, sometimes you get what you pay for. Weigh the table's quality against its price. A slightly pricier table in excellent condition might be more cost-effective in the long run than a cheap table needing several repairs.

11. Brand and Model

Research the table’s brand and model online. Some brands are renowned for their durability and playability. User reviews can provide insights into the table's longevity and performance.

12. Transport and Installation

Consider the logistics:

  • Dismantling: Will the seller dismantle it for you? If not, do you know how to do it safely?

  • Transport: Pool tables are hefty. Ensure you have the means to transport it without damage.

  • Installation: Setting up a pool table, especially leveling the slate, requires precision. You might need to hire a professional.

13. History of the Table

Understanding the history of the table can provide invaluable insights:

  • Age: Older tables might have more wear and tear, but some vintage tables can be collectibles.

  • Usage: A table from a bar or pool hall has seen more action than a residential table. Hence, it might have endured more wear.

  • Storage: A table stored in damp conditions can have hidden mold or wood damage.

14. The Importance of the Underlay

Beneath the cloth or felt, there's typically a layer of underlay. This padding ensures a smooth roll and a softer feel. Check its condition – if it's uneven or deteriorating, you'll need to replace it, impacting your costs.

15. Room Lighting

While not directly about the table itself, proper lighting is crucial for a great pool experience. If the seller has a dedicated pool light fixture, consider negotiating it as part of your purchase.

16. Expansion and Contraction

Wooden pool tables can expand or contract based on the environment. If the table was kept in a humid environment and is moved to a drier location (or vice versa), it might undergo some changes. This can affect the table's level and gameplay.

17. Check for Warping

Over time, wooden pool tables, especially those made of inferior wood, can warp. Lay a straight edge, like a cue, across the table's length and width. Any gaps between the cue and table indicate warping.

18. Repair Costs

Before purchasing, get an idea of repair or refurbishment costs. Sometimes, buying a slightly worn table and refurbishing it can result in a high-quality table at a fraction of the cost of a new one.

19. Guarantees or Warranties

While rare, some sellers might offer short-term guarantees or have existing warranties on the table. This can provide peace of mind.

20. Test the Table

If possible, play a game or at least take a few shots. This will give you a feel for the table's performance and any hidden issues.

Slate Quality and Thickness

In Conclusion

Purchasing a second-hand pool table is an economical way to bring the joys of billiards into your home. However, the key to a satisfactory purchase lies in meticulous inspection and understanding what constitutes a good table. By keeping the above points in mind, you'll be well-equipped to make an informed decision, ensuring countless hours of smooth, enjoyable gameplay.

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