English Amateur Billiards Association

EABA : The Billiard Monthly : April, 1911

The Billiard Monthly : April, 1911

Essential Billiard Components

III.—THE TABLE

(Special to The Billiard Monthly.)

A good cue is necessary; a set of good ivory balls is
important; but a properly-constructed table is indispensably
essential if a game of real billiards is to be played. It is
here that the knowledge and experience of the manufacturer
need to be combined with large resources and a command
of the best facilities and material that the market yields.

The frame must be substantially and rigidly built, unwarpable
in any climate, and of the best and most durable
quality. The cloth must be of the closest texture, finest
material, and most careful finish. The bed—if the balls are
to run truly, smoothly, and noiselessly—should be constructed
of slates from the best quarries, planed and levelled
to the extreme of exactness, and imposed upon equally level
framework. Finally, the cushions must be accurate and
uniform in construction, imperishable in substance, and the
last and most scientific word alike in resistance and
resiliency.

Two West of England Products

Somewhat singularly, the West of England has made
for itself a name in connection with the manufacture of each
of two main components of the billiard table, namely, the
cloth and the slates. There is no billiard cloth that is at all
comparable with that woven in West of England looms,
whilst from the famous slate quarries of North Wales
emanate the slabs that are quarried at Llanberis and
Penryhn from the famous Cambrian, and at Festiniog from
the Lower Silurian, formations. At the same time, excellent
billiard table slate is obtainable from other British quarries
and also from the Continent of Europe.

A visit to a large slate quarry is productive of much that
holds the attention. Apart from the constant blasting operations,
and the work that is busily carried on in galleries,
on inclines, and in hoists swung at dizzy heights, there are
interesting geological formations to be observed, and—at
the other extreme of the scale of production—the treatment
in the big planing machines of the dressed slabs.

Primarily deposited on ocean floors as fine sediment, and
afterwards re-formed as rock, slate is freely workable but
requires careful and experienced handling and selection.

The best billiard slate is extremely dense and durable, and,
when planed and water-levelled according to the best modern
methods, forms a perfect playing surface. The thickness of
the slabs—five in number—for a full-size table should not be
substantially less than two inches.

Care of the Cloth

To the processes adopted in the weaving of billiard cloth
detailed reference need not be here made, as practically
the same principles are followed as are applied to the production
of other superior double cloth. Suffice it to say that
the best billiard cloth is distinguished by a quality, closeness
of texture, and excellence of finish that raise it in its
intrinsic value and its serviceable and durable properties
above any other plain woven fabric that can be named.

A billiard table that is equipped with a good cloth is
worthy of careful and constant attention on the part of its
owner. There are errors both of omission and commission
that it is well to avoid. After play the cloth should always
be brushed before the cover is placed over it, but the excessive
use of the iron should be avoided. Above all, the cloth
should on no account be ironed while any particle of dust
remains. The extreme instance of neglect of this rule is to
be observed in some public rooms, where the cloth has a
greasy appearance, which indicates that dust has, from time
to time, been ironed into it. With proper care a good cloth
may be played upon nightly for a couple of years and be
still fresh in appearance and satisfactory in nap at the end
of that period. Good billiards cannot be played on anything
short of a perfect cloth; and when professional players are
observed to remove a microscopical speck of dust from the
table or a suspicion of chalk from the ball, this action must
not be regarded as affectation on their part. They are sometimes
called upon to play strokes at slow pace in which a
hair’s breadth of difference counts, and they cannot afford
to take even that small amount of unnecessary risk. For
the same reason, professionals and all good players object
to an undue ironing of the cloth. They play according to a
fixed condition of the cloth for certain effects, and if the nap
be practically ironed away, such effects cannot be obtained.

It is far better to brush a table constantly than to iron it
much; and, this having been said, it is unnecessary to add
that to turn a billiard cloth end for end, or, worse still, to
reverse it—both of which things are sometimes done—is as
destructive of good play as anything that can well be conceived.

The Essentials of the Cushion

We now come to what may be termed the crowning point
in high-class billiard table equipment, and that is the
cushions. The prime requisites in a billiard cushion are, as
has been indicated in an earlier paragraph, resistance and
resiliency. The balls, in their run upon a properly-built and
installed table, traverse a surface that is practically as firm
and free from vibration as the earth itself. But when they
are forced against a cushion the strain is shifted from the
perpendicular to the horizontal; and it is at this point that
the ordinary wooden foundations for the cushions are found
to be deficient. From billiard tables built on the steel vacuum
principle the wooden rails might be entirely removed without
affecting in the least the rigidity and other qualities of the
cushions. Again, from cushions thus fitted, a given stroke—
no matter what may be its nature as to strength or angle—
can be repeated with mathematical precision, smoothly,
noiselessly, and with a rebound that is instinct with life and
virility. Apart from the construction and fitting of the
steel foundation, the utmost care is devoted to the building
up and fixing of the cushions themselves; and in the manufacture
of these, as well as in the selection of the rubber,
foresight and precaution are exercised. By use of the best
Para rubber, built up into cushions on the “strip”principle,
perfect elasticity, continuous in any climate, is obtainable,
and the resiliency obtained is so great that cushions can (if
required) be made which will enable a ball to travel the
length of a table no fewer than six times.

Rubber in Its Beginnings

Para rubber is obtained in South America from a large
tree upwards of 60 feet in height, branching from the base,
and having trifoliate leaves. From near its base the caoutchouc
juice or milk is obtained by means of connected horizontal,
vertical, and lateral incisions. The juice, of which
a given tree only yields about two ounces a day, is caught
in small clay cups attached by their own substance to the
tree. It is then moulded into small cakes according to a
peculiar native method, which results in the production of
the finest rubber that the world produces.

Many householders who do not already possess a billiard
room might easily have one. Attic and basement floors
are often readily convertible for this purpose, whilst two
rooms can easily be thrown into one or a separate iron and
matchboard room erected and connected by covered way.


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