The Pool Table Slate
The pool table slate forms what is called the bed of the pool table. Covered with billiards cloth, this surface allows the balls to roll smoothly and evenly, and is the actual playing area of the table.
The rails, which form the outer edge of the table, bolt onto the slate, and contain the pockets where the balls are dropped into. The slate is in turn bolted to the body or frame of the pool table.
Slate is a hard rock made of compressed layers of clay and other minerals. It can be easily ground into a very flat surface, so it makes an ideal material for the bed of pool tables.
Slate for pool tables is cut in thicknesses from 3/4 inch to 2 inches, with 1 to 1 1/4 inches being the most common sizes used. Since it is so heavy and hard to move, the slate is usually cut into three pieces for the average pool table.
On better pool tables, the slate is backed by plywood or a wooden frame. This helps to protect the slate and provides mounting points for the staples that hold on the felt. Semi-circular holes are cut in the slate to accomodate the pockets.
Slate is found all over the world, with the major suppliers being India and China. The best slate, however, comes from Italy and Brazil.
Image courtesy of Bryan472
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