Can You Sand Pool Table Slate?

can you sand pool table slate

Repairing and leveling a pool table can be tricky if you’re just learning how to do it. There are various methods of leveling and repairing a pool table. But, a common question among many is can you sand a pool table?

Yes, you can sand pool table slate when you have to do so. In fact, there are times when you actually should do so. For example, when you are trying to level off your pool table, you will have to sand down the slate, to fix imperfections, so the balls move the way they should. 

According to those who repair and level pool tables for a living, when you’re leveling the sanding process the most important part, which is completed using 5-inch and 6-inch sanding disks as a way to flatten high and low spots in the slate. Before you purchased the pool table and took it home, sanding was a critical part of the milling process. 

When Sanding Your Slate is Necessary

When you have to level your pool table, you may first have to flatten the slate first. Unless the table can lay flat, you cannot level it. Here are the steps:

  • First, you have to fasten the table securely to the table, using lag screws. 
  • Next, you should stretch two strings across the table, lengthwise. These will serve as a guide to make sure the slate surface is flat. Place a quarter beneath the string, so as to make sure the gap between the string and the slate stays the same. It should show the same distance between the table and the string for the length of the table. 
  • Use your fingers to feel for the seams and whether or not there are any rough edges. If there are any, you can sand them down to make the surface as flat as possible.
  • You should also seal the seams with wax, and either scrape or sand down any imperfections. 

As you can see, sanding slate is not only possible, but a necessary aspect of table maintenance.  

The Difference Between One-Piece and Three-Piece Slate

There are usually two types of slate pool tables: three-piece slate and one-piece. They are both exactly how they are described. A one-piece slate table is made from a single sheet of slate, which means it has no seams, which means it’s more likely to be flat and level. 

On the other hand, a three-piece pool table that has been properly milled usually starts out as a one-piece sheet of slate that has been cut into three pieces. The only difference is, it will have two seams, which will have been reassembled and milled together. 

The vast majority of high-quality pool tables are made with three-piece slate. That is because the three-piece slate is easier to move during the assembly process, and because it is less inclined to warp over time because of the weight, which happens often with one-piece tables. 

There are a number of feature differences between one-piece and three-piece slate tables, so we’ll talk about the basics here. 

One-piece slate tables are mostly used in bars and clubs, or in coin-op pool rooms. They  are very heavy and difficult to move, but they feature a seamless field of play. They also tend to warp and sag over a long period of time because of the weight.

Three-piece slate tables are far more common, they are easier to move, and they are more accurate to level. They tend to be less likely to sag or warp, and the largest tables are always three-piece tables. 

If the Slate Breaks, Can I Fix It? 

If you have a pool table at home, you will, at some point, have to replace the felt cover. Whether it takes a couple years or ten, it will become thin and/or develop holes. When you remove the felt cover, you may notice cracks in the slate. There are several things you can do yourself before you hire a pro to fix it. 

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First, if there are just a few small cracks, chips or seams, most experts recommend using beeswax to fill them in. Just melt the beeswax and allow it to drip into the cracks. Once the was hardens, scrape the excess wax off with a simple paint scraper. 

We recommend using a high quality beeswax like this one on Amazon. It’s 100% pure beeswax with no fillers.

There is another product called billiard table wax, which is sold at many sporting goods stores and billiard shops and it’s pretty much glorified beeswax. Use the same method, melting and dripping the table wax and use either a high-quality sheet of sandpaper or a paint scraper to get rid of the excess.

If that still isn’t enough, or if the crack is quite a bit larger, or it’s completely broken, you can use slate repair glue to put the pieces together. If some of the glue seeps out of the cracks, feel free to sand the excess glue with some sandpaper and polish it to make is as smooth as glass. 

If there are still problems, then call a professional repair person. You invested too much in your pool table to take a chance on ruining it. Using sandpaper to remove imperfections won’t harm that investment, and it could very well protect it.

Can You Make Pool Table Slate Smoother?

Yes, you can, and it’s not even particularly difficult. The first thing to do is to make sure the table itself is flat and then be sure it is level. Before you start, though, make sure the table has been placed where you want it, as a way to ensure that the problem isn’t an uneven floor. 

Place a carpenter’s level in the center of the table and measure in both the x and y directions. Then, you’ll want to place the level on each side of the table and check those measurements. 

Use the legs to adjust the table and make it level. Then do some flatness testing, by rolling a ball down the table and seeing if it drifts right or left. If it does, then readjust the table’s legs. You can also use a flat coaster and place a marble on it. If the marble stays put, the table is completely level and flat. 

Final Thoughts

Sanding you pool table is useful for many different scenarios. Whether you are trying to level off your pool table, or repairing cracked or broken slate, sanding will help get the job done right.

If repairing cracked slate, always go with a high quality beeswax to fill the cracks and seams. Do not use cheap beeswax that is not 100% beeswax as this will adhere and stick as well.

Proper maintenance on your pool table should not be taken lightly. A pool table is an expensive investment, and properly maintaining it will help keep it functional for years to come.

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