Step-by-Step Guide: Building Your Own Pool Table with Professional-Quality Felt Installation

If you’re a fan of billiards, there’s nothing quite like having your own pool table. But what if you could take it a step further? Imagine crafting your own table, tailored to your preferences. It’s not just a DIY project, it’s a labor of love.

Building your own pool table might seem daunting, but it’s not as complicated as you might think. With some basic woodworking skills, the right tools, and a step-by-step guide, you can create a stunning centerpiece for your game room.

In this article, we’ll walk you through the process of building your own pool table. We’ll cover everything from choosing the right materials to installing the felt. So, let’s dive in and get started on this exciting project.

Key Takeaways

  • Building a pool table at home is an achievable DIY project, requiring some basic woodworking skills, appropriate tools, and a step-by-step guide, allowing you to enjoy a personal touch in your game room.
  • Essential materials for preparing a pool table include high-quality hardwood for the framework, slate or Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) for the playing surface, a three-piece slate for the table bed, professional-grade rubber for bumpers, and worsted wool for the cloth.
  • The design of the pool table plays a considerable role in not just aesthetics, but in optimizing the playing experience – upholding accurate dimensions and proportions (length should be double the width of the table) would make the gameplay fair and enjoyable.
  • To ensure a quality and consistent game, the playing surface should be prepared meticulously – it needs a flat, firm base. The most preferred is a slab of slate, leveled correctly, and overlaid with a worsted wool felt.
  • The construction of the frame and rails should consider the pool table’s integrity and balance. The right materials should be chosen, measurements should be precise, and the assembly should be secure, ensuring the table’s longevity.
  • The felting process involves the selection of the right felt – considering durability, ball speed, and cost – and its tight installation over the slate bed from the center to avoid wrinkles and loose sections, thus ensuring smooth and consistent gameplay.

Building your own pool table with professional-quality felt installation involves several detailed steps, from constructing the frame to applying the felt. Pearson Cues offers a comprehensive DIY guide that covers everything from material preparation to the final assembly of the pool table, which can be accessed here. For those specifically interested in the felt installation process, wikiHow provides a step-by-step guide on how to properly felt a pool table, including tips on cutting and smoothing the felt, available here. Additionally, a full DIY guide on installing pool table cloth, packed with useful tips and tricks, is presented in a YouTube video by Home Billiards, which can be viewed here. These resources will help ensure that your self-built pool table not only looks professional but also plays well.

Choosing the Right Materials

Let’s take a detour to the hard stuff – materials you’ll need for this billiards build. In an aisle full of wood, it can be confusing to figure out which wood’s best for you. Don’t worry, you won’t need to play a guessing game.

High-quality Hardwood is your best bet for the framework. Popular choices include Maple, Oak, and Mahogany. These provide strength, durability, and a classic aesthetic. For the playing surface, Slate reigns supreme. It’s heavy sure but provides an unparalleled flatness. A thickness of at least 1 inch is recommended for longevity and optimal performance. If slate’s a bit too pricey, Medium Density Fiberboard or MDF, can work as a cheaper alternative.

For the table bed you’d be wrapping with felt, a three-piece slate is a top pick. This design lets you fine-tune the leveling. In contrast, a one-piece slate is easier to install but might lack in precision.

For the bumpers or cushions – choose professional-grade rubber. These will provide true bounces, ensuring the best gameplay experience.

Let’s not forget the cloth! Worsted Wool is superior because it boasts impressive durability, lets balls run smoother, faster and ensures fewer burns or marks on the cloth.

Here’s a quick rundown of materials again:

High-Quality HardwoodFramework
Slate or MDFPlaying Surface
Three-Piece SlateTable Bed
Professional-grade RubberBumpers
Worsted WoolCloth

Designing the Pool Table

Subsequent to choosing your materials, you’ll venture into the next crucial stage: Designing your pool table. This step is integral in creating a pool table that not only looks great but ensures an optimal playing experience.

Although aesthetics play a significant role in the design, you shouldn’t overlook the importance of precise dimensions and proportions. Standard pool tables typically measure 8 to 9 feet in length. However, the size may vary based on your personal needs or the available space in your game room.

Regardless of the size, the length should be double the width. For example, if you opt for an 8-foot long table, it should be 4 feet wide. These dimensions are essential to keep the play fair and enjoyable.

Following the table’s main body, pay attention to the pool table pockets. There are six pockets in total: one at each corner and one at the center of each longer side. Sticking to these traditional specs will guarantee a professional look and feel.

Pooling your creative juices will be vital to customizing your pool table. You can experiment with various designs and color combinations. From the type of wood stain to the color of your table cloth, these choices can make your pool table stand out. Try exploring design inspiration online or in pool halls to help you narrow down your preferences.

Lastly, always factor in the room size. Your pool table needs ample space around it for players to shoot from all angles. Ensure you have enough clearance on all sides – industry standards suggest a minimum of 5 feet from each edge of the table to the walls.

As you delve deeper into the design phase, remember that accuracy is key. A well-crafted and meticulously designed pool table can become a centerpiece that’s both aesthetically pleasing and highly functional. So, take your time, measure carefully, and most importantly, enjoy the process.

Preparing the Playing Surface

Once you’ve nailed down the design of your pool table, it’s time to prep the playing surface. This stage is pivotal to your game’s quality and consistency. Remember, smoothness is synonymous with precision in pool game play.

To start, you’ll need a flat, firm base – usually a slab of slate or another type of stone is most preferred. The thickness of the slab usually varies between 3/4″ to 1″, with three-piece slate being most common. Your selected slab must be completely leveled. Any slight deviation can severely affect the ball dynamics during play.

Next, you’ll place felt over the slab, ensuring a smooth and seamless play area. Choice of fabric is key here. Worsted wool is highly recommended for its durability and ball-speed consistency. Watch out for bubbles and wrinkles as you lay it out, they could ruin a perfect shot.

For your information, here is a simple table comparing different pool table surfaces:

Surface TypeProsCons
SlateExcellent level accuracy, DurabilityCostly, Heavy
Diamond honed slateSuperior flatness, High-end playVery expensive
SlatronGood stability, LighterLimited durability
HoneycombAffordable, LightInaccurate level

Now to the fun part – marking out the “spots” and “lines” on the table: use flat, white paint for these. This includes the “Center Spot,” mid-way between both ends and the side cushion, and the “Pyramid Spot” where the balls are racked. Also, draw the “Baulk Line,” a line across the table 29 inches from the end cushion in the direction of the baulk cushion.

The above tasks take time, but remember – perfection is the key to an excellent pool table. As such, thoroughness is not just desired, it’s expected every step of the way. There’s no rushing the preparation of the playing surface.

Building the Frame and Rails

Onto the next phase in building your pool table: constructing the frame and rails. This part is as important as the surface itself. The integrity and balance of your pool table depend heavily on how well your frame and rails are built.

Start by choosing the right materials. Hardwoods such as oak, maple, or mahogany are commonly used for pool table frames due to their durability. Note that these options might be a bit pricey. If you’re on a budget, you could go for softwood options like pine or fir. Always remember that cheaper materials might compromise the longevity of your table.

Your frame should involve four key pieces: the top rails, the side rails, the legs, and the crossbeams.

Top and Side Rails
The top rails provide the platform for the playing surface while the side rails ensure the balls rebound properly. Both should be constructed using straight, knot-free hardwoods.

The legs are the cornerstones of the table. They should be sturdy enough to support the table’s weight without wobbling. So, select the material carefully and ensure they are well-built.

Crossbeams provide additional stability and distribute the table’s weight evenly. Again, hardwoods would be an ideal choice but this time, consider using thicker pieces for added strength.

Onto the fun part – assembling the frame and rails. Always make sure everything aligns correctly. A minor misalignment may cause a significant difference in the table’s balance. Once you’ve attached all pieces securely and confirmed everything is level, your frame and rails should be good to go.

Remember, the devil is in the details. Precise measurements, careful selection of materials, and secure assembly are all crucial in this step. Build your frame and rails right and you’re one step closer to having a professional-quality pool table of your own.

Installing the Felt

After carefully constructing and aligning your frame, next up is the felting process. This step is where your table begins to take on its familiar pool table appearance.

Choosing the right felt is crucial. It’s not just about color or pattern, although those elements can impact your game setting mood. Material and weight also matter.

There are two common types of felt: worsted and napped. Worsted wool felt is the premier choice, known for its durability and high-speed play. On the other hand, napped wool felt, while being cheaper, is prone to pilling and slower ball speed.

To help you decide, here’s a brief comparison:

Felt typeDurabilityBall speedPrice

After selecting the right type of felt, it’s time to install it. Spread the felt over the slate bed and ensure it covers the entirety of the playfield.

The felt installation begins in the center. Starting from the center allows for an even stretch to avoid wrinkles and bunched sections. You should stretch the felt evenly and attach it securely to the slate with spray adhesive or staples. Each corner should be pulled tight, like the fitting of a drum skin.

Trim excess felt from the rails and edges, but leave some hanging over for final adjustments. At this point, your table is looking pretty good, right? Now’s the time to fit the felt to the rails.

Fitting the felt to the rails involves similar principles. Start in the middle of each rail, stretch and attach the felt firmly. Stay patient, take your time – remember, this is a crucial step towards achieving a professional-quality gaming experience.

Remember to avoid rushing the felt installation. An even, tight fit is key for a smooth and consistent game. Missteps can lead to unwanted wrinkles or loose sections, compromising the integrity of your gameplay.


So, you’ve made it! You’ve navigated the complexities of building your pool table, from constructing the frame to the all-important felting process. Remember, your choice between worsted or napped felt can make a world of difference in your gaming experience. Starting from the center and stretching the felt evenly is key. Your attention to detail and patience have paid off, ensuring a smooth, wrinkle-free surface for countless games to come. Now, it’s time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Rack ’em up, take your best shot, and relish in the satisfaction of playing on a table you’ve built with your own hands. Remember, the game is just as much about the journey as it is the destination.

1. What is the best type of pool table felt?

The best type of pool table felt depends on your priority. Worsted felt is known for its durability and high-speed gameplay. It’s used in many professional settings. Alternatively, napped felt is more affordable, but it can slow down gameplay and may require more maintenance.

2. What is the first step in installing pool table felt?

The first step in installing pool table felt is to start from the center and then stretch the felt evenly.

3. Why is meticulous fitting to the rails necessary?

Meticulous fitting to the rails is necessary to ensure a smooth, professional-quality gaming experience. It helps to prevent wrinkles or loose sections that may interfere with gameplay.

4. Is it essential to have patience during the felting process? Why?

Yes, patience is key during the felting process. Hasty or sloppy work can lead to wrinkles or loose sections of felt, which can affect the smoothness and consistency of gameplay.

5. What are the differences between worsted and napped felt?

Worsted felt, while generally more expensive, provides high-speed play and is significantly more durable than napped felt. Napped felt, on the other hand, is cheaper but may slow down gameplay and require more maintenance.