Buying a good quality import pool table can be a great way to entertain at home. The problem is knowing the good qualities from the bad. There are several key aspects of a pool table’s construction and each one plays an important role in the playability of the table. The most important quality of a pool table is the cabinet or frame. The cabinet is what supports the slate. Slate is the large, very heavy, flat surface that is underneath the billiard cloth, or felt as it’s commonly called. The slate liner that is permanently attached to the slate serves several functions. Its primary function allows the pool table installer to staple/install the felt. But even more important, is its role in leveling the playing surface or slate bed. American Heritage Pool tables (which by the way are imported from Malaysia, not made in the USA) use a large 51 by 95-inch piece of MDF, also known as particleboard (which is screwed into the top of their cabinets) as a foundation to which the slates are supposed to be leveled upon.
As a pool table installer myself, I typically use wedges to level/shim the slate bed. The leveling wedges are used to manipulate and raise each piece of slate independently to achieve a perfectly level and flat playing surface. The problem I have with American Heritage tables is by the time I’ve gotten the slate bed nice and level, the slates are usually raised up by as much as a quarter of an inch from their unattached slate liner. This opens up a whole new can of worms. Because of the short slate screws they use and the flimsy, three-quarter-inch thick (cabinet attached) slate liner, there is only about a half of an inch of thread that’s actually anchored into the liner.
What I think sets Fischer and C.L. Bailey pool table construction miles apart from American Heritage is the fact that Fischer and C.L. Bailey use a two-inch-thick piece of solid wood that is securely mounted to, and runs the perimeter of the pool table’s cabinet. Fischer and C.L. Bailey’s slate screws are three inches long and by the time that the slate bed is perfectly leveled, there’s at least an inch and a half of thread anchoring the slates to the cabinet. Pure and simple, it’s a much better way of securing the slates to the pool table cabinet. Which in the long run will result in your pool table remaining level and playing true.