It’s a great evening and you’re having a good time with your friends playing a game of pool. You aim and hit the cue ball perfectly but it goes to the left and doesn’t hit its target properly. Bummer, right? Well, in order to prevent such things from happening you need to learn how to level a pool table the right way.
In this article, we will go through all the steps you have to go through in order to ensure good long-lasting results and will also discuss a few additional tips that might prove useful. The main parts of a basic leveling process are:
- Checking the ground level
- Checking the pool table’s level
- Level the pool table via different methods
If you’re currently on the market for a pool table, I highly recommend checking out my guide on the best pool tables for this year. Now, let’s jump into this!
Checking the level of the ground
Before you move on with any type of work on the table itself, you have to make sure that the ground beneath it is perfectly flat. To measure that you can use any of the methods that will use in a moment to check for the table’s level. Preferably, you should use a long carpenter’s level that will cover the ground below the table in width. You can also use the cue ball method and check if the ball moves or turns in any direction when you roll it slightly.
Carpets or other thicker and soft surfaces are tricky as they won’t let you check the ground’s level. In these cases, you will have to give the table a few days to lay on the carpet and flatten it a bit in the contact zones. After that, you should primarily rely on the table’s adjustment methods.
Checking the level of the table
There are a couple of methods you can use to check the level of your table. Common ones include using a carpenter’s meter, your smartphone, or the easiest and simplest method – using the cue ball. The key to all these methods is finding the lowest corner of the table. Once you identify it, you can raise the leg beneath that corner. Sometimes, you will have to adjust more than one leg. In these cases, the slope is typically wider and bigger and doesn’t just involve one pocket (corner).
When you start measuring the level of your table with the carpenter’s level, you should use the H-method (or pattern). It consists of measuring once in the middle of the table perpendicular to the long sides. Then, staying on that mid-line, turn the level and measure the long line of the table. After you’ve done those two measures, continue measuring next to all of the table’s bumpers/cushions. In the end, you should have painted the letter “H” with your measurements, with 2 additional smaller measures along the two shorter sides of the table.
If you don’t have a carpenter’s meter with you, you can use your smartphone. There are countless measuring and level apps that will help you turn your phone into a multi-tool device. The only issue with modern smartphones is that they are smaller and cannot cover a longer area, making them less accurate on average than a longer carpenter’s level.
When using the cue ball to measure if the table is level you will have to roll the ball over multiple sections. Try rolling the ball as straight as possible and follow its path with your eyes. To make it easier for you, roll the ball parallel to either of the table’s sides. If the ball turns in any direction, adjust the leg(s) of the direction in which the ball turned to.
One last method that is worth mentioning due to its accuracy is using marbles. And since marbles won’t roll well on the table’s cloth, you should place a flat piece of glass between them and the table. Place the marble in the middle of the piece of glass. If the table is flat, the marle shouldn’t roll in any direction. Repeat the same process over as many spots on the table as possible.
Leveling the pool table
After you’re done measuring the level of the ground beneath the table and the table itself, it is time to start making your adjustments. The very first thing you should do is consult your table’s manual. There, you will find which is your table’s adjustment mechanism. Most tables will have adjustable feet but others will come with plates (shims) that are inserted or removed from the table’s sides. Let’s start with the easier method…
Adjusting the legs
Start by adjusting the lowest leg of the table and try to bring it up half a rotation or a full rotation if needed. After each rotation, perform all the leveling checks we mentioned earlier. Oftentimes, you will need to adjust multiple legs multiple times, so arm yourself with patience.
Using shims to level the table
Using shims is the oldest method and it works in most cases. Before we discuss how to do it, it is important to mention that there are two types of shims out there – metal and wooden ones.
To insert a shim, you will need to lift the table’s leg high enough first. This can be done with a lifting jack put in the middle of the table or with the help of a friend (recommended). Another method to do that is by using a wooden piece and a long metal rod to insert it beneath the table’s foot. This isn’t recommended as it can twist and damage the table’s frame. It can also mar the wood. If the table has adjustable feet, you can adjust some of them and put a shim under the rest. In most cases, it will come down to how satisfied you are with the result.
One thing to pay attention to during the leveling process is the slate screws’ status. While you move the table around and lift it up, most of these screws can become loose and risk warping the pool’s bed or damaging it. This is why, after you finish leveling the table, check each screw and make sure it’s tightened up. Moreover, loose screws can work against you when you try to level the table.
Things to avoid
When your pool table is finally leveled, there are a few things that you will need to forever remember. These will ensure that your table will stay that way and you won’t damage it unintentionally.
First, never sit or put most of your body weight on a pool table. And I know you are already thinking about those long shots that you need to lay on the table for. For these types of shots, you can use a pool pole rest. Sitting and resting on the table can twist it or damage its frame or bed in the worst case and ruin its leveling in the best case.
Another big no-no in the pool world is lifting the table from one end. If you want to lift your table to do some maintenance below or level its legs, lift it with a lifting jack from the bottom middle part. Also, never grab the top part in order to lift it, as that can break or twist the frame.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Can you pay to have your pool table leveled?
There are a number of companies out there that perform pool table maintenance, including leveling. Oftentimes, to level a pool table you also need to refelt it, which can spike up the price by quite a lot. Prices which include refelting and other small procedures can be as high as 300-400$.
Can you level pool tables that are placed on a carpet?
While leveling a pool table on a carpet is a bit difficult, there are certain ways to make sure that things will end up the correct way. One especially important step to ensure a flat pool bed is to give the table a few days. That way it can rest its weight on the carpet and flatten the spots beneath its legs’. Only then you will be able to (somewhat) accurately level the table. If you still see inconsistencies after you’re done leveling it, just wait a few more days.
Which floor type is the best for a pool table?
While you will see most game rooms having some type of wooden floor, that isn’t necessarily the best option for a pool table. To ensure that the table doesn’t move, stays flat, and for the balls to land on a softer surface, you can choose between certain materials such as linoleum, rubber mats, or an area rug. Tile is also great and much easier to clean but has its obvious drawbacks of being harder and not as comfortable on the feet.
What can cause an uneven table?
No matter the price, pool tables are prone to long-term damage and can dip or bend. The cause for that is most commonly people sitting on one side of the table or improper installation or handling of the table. Another common reason for leveling issues is lifting the table from one of its ends or by grabbing the top part only.
Level pool tables are crucial for an accurate and fair game that will be enjoyable. Moreover, you cannot practice your accuracy if the table’s slope influences the balls’ movements. That is why you need to learn how to level a pool table properly. After you take into account the surface on which you will place the table, you have to go through the steps to ensure that the floor is actually flat. Only then you can start adjusting the table’s level by either using its legs or different types of shims such as metal or wooden.