Pool Table from a Layman’s View
We often offer our opinion on construction of pool table frames from various manufacturers. It is easy for us to get carried away with minor details and billiard terms that some people aren’t familiar with. We strive to keep things simple, but sometimes hearing from someone not a part of our business, helps put things in perspective.
A gentleman by the name of Tom recently reached out to us via e-mail with some questions regarding C.L. Bailey Pool Tables.
I just spoke to you on the phone. As I said, I’m shopping for my first pool table and liked what I saw on your website and blogs. Unfortunately, being in Harrisburg, PA, I can’t get in to your shop or I’m sure I’d be buying my table there. I have found a local pool hall owner that seems to share a lot of your approaches and sells and installs CL Bailey equipment. But he didn’t seem to have worked with them much lately or know much about recent changes there.
You seem to have stuck by CL Bailey. Have you had any issues with their back and forth changes in ownership or their move of all of their manufacturing to China? Have you seen any negative impacts on their quality or their warrantee?
On the technical side, is their slate sourced from China? Does that matter?
Another thing I couldn’t tell from any photographs I’ve seen is if the backing board covers the full bottom surface of the slate? Is that important?
I also have a local Olhousen dealer who’s offering a new model in the Americana line with a deep discount introductory price of $1,550, down from $2,400. But, I just don’t like the cabinet construction. Do you have any experience with the Americana design?
I really like the aesthetics and construction of the CL Bailey Duchess. To me, its vertical beams and leg mounts are superior to the Olhousen Americana line.
So, I guess the bottom line is, would you go so far as to recommend the Duchess for $2,400 over the Olhousen for $1,550?
Thanks for your time, here and on your blog posts – they really have been a great learning tool for me.
It’s easy to see that Tom has done his homework on pool tables. His questions were logical and important enough to share with our audience. David has worked on nearly every brand of billiard table under the sun. And, although Tom isn’t local to us, he still felt it necessary to respond, candidly.
Hi Tom. You’re best bet is going with the Dutchess. Cl Bailey’s cabinet construction exceeds that of anything in the Americana series. Slate is slate no matter where it comes from as long as it’s milled flat. To my knowledge all cl Bailey’s slates are framed with an mdf backing. The slate liner as we call it in the business doesn’t need to cover the entire bottom of the slate, it’s unnecessary.
The most important thing to know about pool tables is who’s installing it and how they level the slatebed. I always use a starrett machinist’s level. Hopefully you’ll find someone who knows his stuff! As for changes within the CLB company, there are none. Construction practices are the same as before only except now the tables are made by a Chinaman. Their cushion rubbers are great quality and produce an excellent rebound. Their leather pockets are top quality as well.
You won’t be disappointed with the dutchess as long as it’s installed properly.
The reality is, no matter the country of origin, the construction quality has to be there. We sell both imported (C.L. Bailey and Aramith) and domestic (Connelly Billiards) pool tables. Often times, customers compromise subtle details in carving or stain choices to get a table that is more in their budget. The two things we will not compromise on are construction and proper installation. Not on an import. Not on a domestic. That is just how we operate.
Tom chimed in one more time.
Thanks for the quick reply. If there’s anything that I’ve figured out in the research I’ve done is that the installer’s an equal part of the package. From what I’ve seen, a great installation can’t make a bad table good, but a bad installation can make a good table play like junk. I feel pretty good about this one. It’s a father son shop run out of a pool hall, been doing it for 30 years: rails and cushion rubber on the bench in his shop, bees wax, machinist’s level, estimated 4 or 5 hours for the installation, not 2 like the other dealer I mentioned. He demonstrated how he lines up 3 balls and strikes the back one to send the front ball down the cushion slowly as a final check of level – and on the table in his hall it went true as could be the length of the table. I tried to trick him about the level and, playing dumb, asked “For that leveling do you just use a carpenter’s level? And he said “Oh no, that’s not nearly precise enough, you have to use a machinist’s level.”
This is why I reached out to you and why I appreciate your blogs so much. They really provide an excellent insight into the craft that I haven’t seen anywhere else. I really feel like a much more informed consumer – even as a newbie – from the pictures and write-ups you’ve posted about so many of your jobs. Keep up the good work and best of luck to you.
There is more to buying a pool table than just a pool table and value is not alway just what is written on a price tag. If you are local, visit us in our Orange County pool table showroom. If you’re not, that is alright too. Click through some of these blog posts to help you navigate buying a pool table.