Have you ever wondered why are shuffleboard tables so slick and slippery and why does the puck slide so easily on them? Well, on top of an already smooth finish from the factory, shuffleboard tables are sprayed and waxed with special materials in order to maintain their slippery top layer. However, the process of maintaining your table waxed could be a bit difficult if you don’t have the right tools and skills for the job.
In order to learn how to wax a shuffleboard table properly, you need to go through the following steps:
- Preparing your workplace
- Cleaning the table
- Applying shuffleboard silicone spray
- Applying wax
Before we dive into each of those steps, make sure you visit my guide on the best shuffleboard tables for this year!
Preparing your workplace
Before you start with anything, you need to make sure that the table is ready to be worked on. If you think there will be a mess around it, place a sheet around it so that the spray or wax doesn’t touch the floor or other furniture. Also, prepare your tools such as the cleaning products, towels, sprays, and waxes so that they’re close by.
Another important thing you have to do is consider the type of surface your shuffleboard table has. There are two main finishes out there – polymer and traditional wood finish.
Tables with a traditional wood finish are trickier to wax and even harder to maintain. They do, however, retain a better shine for longer and are sturdier. Polymer finishes are easy to clean and easy to work on. They are also cheaper and don’t sacrifice plenty of the game’s feeling, making them ideal for beginners and casual players. The type of finish will also determine the products that you need to buy for the next steps, so make sure you check that with the table’s manufacturer before you continue.
Cleaning the table
The major difference between natural wood finished tables and ones with a polymer finish are in how you clean them. Natural woods are a bit tricky to clean and you will need a special solution for that. Mix 1/4 parts vinegar with 1 part water in a cup and get a soft towel. Clean the surface with gentle circular motions without pressing too much. Keep the cloth damp at all times and rinse if off if it gets too dirty. There will be plenty of dust on the table and probably some leftover wax too. This is where the vinegar mix kicks into play as it removes wax pretty efficiently.
Applying shuffleboard silicone spray
Before you spread the wax (or “salt/sand”) on the table, you will need to thoroughly apply the silicone spray on the table’s surface. This isn’t regular silicone spray, however. Rather, it is one made specifically for shuffleboard and their finishes. Pay attention to the spray type as different finishes have different spray (and wax) requirements.
In general, the spraying process is fairly simple. All you have to look for is to not miss a spot on the table and not to make far too many passes on a single spot. Most people prefer marking their table into different zones with masking tape. This will make it much easier for you to know where you’ve been and will prevent missing spots or applying too much spray to certain areas.
After the spray is dried out (typically in a few minutes), wipe down the whole table with a clean and soft towel. Microfiber towels are an excellent choice for this particular occasion. Wipe the table clean and pat it down until all the spray is buffed in and the excess spray is removed.
Pro Tip: when cleaning, spraying, and waxing your table, keeping your hand movements towards the grain of the wood will make it last longer and have a better shine. Moreover, it will protect the table’s finish.
Before you start applying the wax, you will need to figure out which type of wax to use. To simplify things a bit, there are different wax speeds, ranging from 1 to 4. In order to get the puck sliding just good enough on a smaller 9-12 foot table, you will need a slower rated wax. These are typically waxed numbered 4. However, there are even slower waxes down to 7. The bigger the table gets, however, the faster the wax will have to be. This means that bigger 18+ foot tables will need faster waxes rated 1 through 3. Professional (official) waxes for shuffleboard tournaments are a 1.
Now, about the waxing process itself, there aren’t too many technicalities here. The shuffleboard wax comes in containers filled with lots of fine wax pieces that resemble salt, sand, or dust, hence the alternative names for this type of wax. It is incredibly slippery and is spread across the table in a salt-like manner. Basically, you shake the container all over the table to create an even layer of wax. You have to make sure that there aren’t any piles of wax anywhere as that can alter the course of the puck. Zones with too little wax can also change the puck’s direction.
You can repeat this process from time to time when the wax gets too little. However, every few times you re-wax the table, you also have to wipe it clean, spray it with shuffleboard silicone spray, and add new wax to it. This will ensure that the wood stays in prime condition and that the playing surface is as slick and smooth as possible.
Curious about what it takes to become a good shuffleboard player? Take a look at this beginner’s guide to shuffleboard!
Shuffleboard Care and Maintenance
There are a few basic principles when it comes to taking care for your shuffleboard table:
- Never place it near windows that have the sun shine through them
- Consider buying a shuffleboard table cover
- Clean it as often as possible
- Treat it like an expensive furniture
- Have it placed in a room with plenty of space on all sides of the shuffleboard table
As with all other furniture, the sun is a natural enemy. It damages their outer coating and can discolor certain types of wood. Moisture is another culprit when it comes to structural issues, warping, and more. This is why most tables should be in a room where these conditions could be controlled. Obviously, outdoor tables are going to have a harder time with all that. This is why having a cover for them is an absolute must.
As a whole, if you treat your table as an expensive piece of furniture, you won’t be far off what you typically need to do in order to keep the table in tip-top condition. Using a furniture cleaner for its frame and legs is recommended as it will keep them clean, nourished, and polished.
Every 5-10 years, a shuffleboard table might also need a refinishing job. This is quite difficult and only qualified professionals can do it. Before you send it for a refinish, however, you have to get it checked by those same professionals. Due to the nature of the process, it isn’t advised to go ahead with it if the table can last a bit longer with its original finish. It also isn’t the cheapest procedure, which is why most casual players prefer to never do it, as it might outweigh the original cost of the table itself.
How to balance a shuffleboard table
Balancing a shuffleboard table is no different than leveling a pool table. Almost all shuffleboard tables come with a mechanism on their feet that lets you control the individual height of each foot. Putting the table on a hard surface will make the whole process easier, as opposed to the table being on a thick carpet. Also, some tables can have their actual playing surface regulated instead of the legs, which adds another layer of adjustability for extra precision.
Whether it is a 9, 12, or 14-foot model, each shuffleboard table is probably going to come with climatic adjusters. What these are is basically a long bolt that is anchored to the bottom of the table via two metal platforms that bolt onto the table. They are located perpendicular to the table’s bottom surface. Depending on the size of the table, there can be plenty of those climatic adjusters (climatic mechanisms) along the table’s length. Typically, they are placed at a distance of 3-4 ft.
The purpose of these long bolts is to adjust the curvature of the table. Since shuffleboard tables are predominantly made out of wood, they are prone to warping. This is especially true for tables that are constantly exposed to humidity and other weather conditions. Climatic adjusters are designed to control that same warping so that the table’s surface is always a little convex towards its center. This means that its center stays slightly lower than the sides. This makes it much easier for the pucks to stay on the table and not fall off.
Adjusting those bolts is rather easy. On some tables, it is facilitated via another mechanism that allows you to turn them by hand. On others, you will need a wrench or some other tool. The easiest way to test whether your table is convex enough is to get a piece of paper and a carpenter’s level. Turn the climatic adjuster bolt until the table is convex enough that your piece of paper can go through the gap in the middle of the carpenter’s level (which is placed along the length of the climatic adjuster). If the piece of paper doesn’t pass, you have loosened the bolt too much. If there is a noticeable gap, then the bolt is screwed on too much.
If you want to learn a little bit more about the rich history of shuffleboard as a sport, make sure you read this article on the topic!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you use silicone spray on a shuffleboard table’s surface?
Avoid using silicone spray on shuffleboard tables. Not only can it damage certain surfaces but it can also make the surface far too slick. This will lead to the pucks sliding way too fast, making it harder to be accurate. Still, some people prefer using it after they’re done waxing to sort of “seal” the wax in. That doesn’t always work and the spray might come right off the table the first few times you try.
What kind of finish do shuffleboard tables use?
Most shuffleboard tables are finished with an acrylic coating. However, there are some companies that prefer other materials for their finish. These can be polyurethane, varnish, lacquer, and other applications.
Should you use climatic adjusters on a shuffleboard table?
Yes, you should definitely install climatic adjusters on your table if it doesn’t already have them. If it does have them, however, you will have to manually adjust them every time there is a change in the weather and you want your table to be ready for that. Also, after inspecting the surface, you should adjust them again so that the playing surface remains concave and not convex.
What are the different kinds of shuffleboard wax?
There is a rating system that ranks shuffleboard wax based on how fast it will make the puck glide. Waxes rated with 1 are going to give you the least amount of speed, while waxes with a rating of 3 are going to be super fast. Either way, any of those waxes are better for the table than playing without one, as that can lead to excessive wear over time.
Learning how to wax a shuffleboard table is important for a few good reasons. First, it will keep the table safe and well-protected over time no matter its exposure to nature’s elements. Second, it will allow and promote better plays with the pucks since frequent waxing reduces the friction between the pucks and the table. Additionally, you can add more wax (called “salt” or “sand”) to the table to further facilitate the sliding of the pucks. As for care and maintenance, make sure you check whether the table is convex at all times and work on the climatic adjusters if needed.