How to Build a Pool Table
Follow these step-by-step instructions for making a billiard table you can call your own.
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7. For support, add 2-by-4’s across the length of the bottom of the table.
8. With the ball rack on your right, with a hole saw, drill four 1½-inch-wide holes spaced 1 inch apart in the short end of the table, and 3 inches above the bottom molding.
9. Each hole has a three-sided rectangular frame inside the table to hold the cues. The sides are 3 inches wide and about 60 inches long and are cut out of ¾-inch MDF. Glue and nail the sides into place and inside the table surrounding each hole accordingly.
10. Cut a 3-inch-high, 1-foot-wide rectangle of MDF 2 inches above the holes for the cues. At the bottom edge of this hole, you will nail and glue in a 9-inch-long, 14-inch-wide platform to hold the triangle. To hold the two angled sides of the triangle, nail snugly between these two pieces.
11. Cut four L-shaped pieces (about 3 by 3 inches) of ¾-inch oak to act as guides for each position on the corners. Find consistent leg positions, and then screw in the guides so the legs always find their place. Sand everything lightly with sandpaper and an orbital sander.
12. Cut a ¾-inch sheet of MDF to fit the top of the table using a circular saw; it will extend 6 inches on each side (for the rail and bumper). Using a jigsaw, cut six holes in the MDF (four corners, two at centers of long sides) at 4 7/8 inches and shaped in a half-circle. The overall angle of the holes is 90 degrees, to accommodate the rails. Create a template for a corner pocket and a middle pocket, and trace it repeatedly. Router the inside edge of each pocket to ¼-inch for a lip for the balls.
13. The rails are made from walnut planks. Each rail portion is triple-segmented to simulate a curve going in toward the table. The top rail piece is 2¾ inches wide, the angled piece is 1½ inches, and the vertical piece is 4 to 5 inches. An additional inner piece (about 1 inch square on the end) that will hide under the rails will help in attaching the rails to the tabletop. There will be six rail segments, two of the same (the ends) and four of the same (the sides) (about 3 feet for each). Attach the rails using a biscuit joiner and glue. Clamp them and set to dry.
14. Flip the MDF tabletop over and, with oak, form a honeycomb pattern that contains 10-inch squares. Center this pattern on the MDF. This will act as support for the table and will help fit it in smoothly.
15. Primer the exterior as a base coat, minus the rails and the tabletop.
16. Unclamp the dried rails. Smooth the curve with a manual saw, planers and a router. Then use an orbital sander. Cut the rails into segments to fit between the holes. Drill holes to accept the bolts of the pockets inside each pocket hole (12 holes in total). Build a jig for consistency, using a drill press for the holes. Try a dry fit of the rails and the pockets, and trim or sand as necessary.
17. Disassemble any joining rails, rub rich brown furniture wax on the rails, and paint the bottom of the table (legs and base) with dark brown latex paint.
18. Cut with a razor and stretch the red felt over the tabletop, smoothing it as you go, and spray-glue it into place. Staple it around the sides for extra support.
19. Begin to assemble the rails and pockets, working your way around the perimeter. Work in small segments. Use the pocket bolts and then screw the pockets up from the bottom until they’re snug. Attach the rails and pockets to the table with spray glue and nails.
20. Cut the rubber bumpers to fit between the holes. Stretch red felt over them, glue and staple them, and then spray-glue them into place on the table’s inside edge.
21. At the routered edges and inside edges of the bottom painted portion of the table, cut and apply strips of white paper tape that has been spray-painted gold.
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