Open up corner pockets on full size snooker table in Blackburn

Today I have been up to Blackburn to do a variety of improvements on a full size snooker table in a private house.  The main work was to open up the pocket openings which where close to 3.3/8ths at the fall, and to make them 3.5/8th at the fall to template angle.  Here are a few photo’s of how I went about completing this work and other improvements on this table.
Blackburn cloth turned back on each corner
The first thing I did was to remove the cushions and strip back the cloth at each corner pocket, then refit to see the actual size of the openings without cloth over top of the rubber .
Blackburn template too big for pocket opening
As you can see from above photo, the template is not fitting into the pocket openings as they are too tight.  Professionals play on 3.5 inch openings, most clubs play on 3.5/8th to 3.3/4 openings.  These were too small at 3.3/8th opening.
Blackburn pen line on pocket rubber before cut
Pen marking the rubber using the template as a guide, we are ready to start cutting a new angle more suited for a home play table, as the owner was having problems getting a ball to fall on 3.3/8th pocket openings.
Blackburn cutting rubber opening pockets up
Cutting the rubber with a very sharp knife to just inside of the pen line, we then finish off the cut by sanding back so that the pen line just disappears .
Blackburn template in corner fitted snug
Where once the template did not fit, we have opened the pockets up so that the template fits nice and snug.  The pockets are now 3.5/8th at the fall of the slate.
Blackburn Riley bracket with bolt new
This table has adjustable slate supports in the centre of the table, we call these slate supports muntins.
I do not know why ?  but the firm that installed the table had left two brackets off, so our client’s father made two new ones, and the other four brackets had the adjustable bolt missing so the centre muntins did not support the centre of the slate.  It is important that the slates are supported along the middle of the table, if not you get what is known as slate sagging.  This will mean a ball played down each side rolling inwards from each side, and this can only be rectified by lifting and supporting the slate in the centre of the table .  So with two new replacement brackets and 6 new bolts we have rectified this problem.
Blackburn all brackets now working with bolts
A view along the underside of the frame showing three of the adjustable brackets supporting the muntins (centre slate support beams). A simple yet effective way of supporting the slate allowing for adjustment.
Note the leg looks like it is off the floor, this because the firm that fitted the table used round shims under square legs.
Blackburn packed slate with window shims
You may remember I did a write up about this table a few weeks back, showing packing that had been inserted and also a problem with slate falls not being the correct shape (see above photo).  Those packers are double glazing shims for aligning UPVC windows to the outer brick opening!  It was obvious that the client would spot this and ask for a second opinion, and then the other problems became apparent.

The client informed me that the seller of the table had replaced the slate for much better ones with good slate fall shape, and had made good the packing by removing it and getting the table much more level.

I was bought in to finish off the job to a higher standard, and this I achieved, by making it possible for the client to make shots into the corners that he is more confident in potting and not to get frustrated at too tight a pocket to aim for.  Also to make sure the table was level and would stay level by making sure the adjustable muntin brackets worked and the two missing ones replaced.  Finally to remove the round packing shims under the legs that made it look like the leg was off the floor and put square custom, made on site, shims to fit perfect.  This took me 15 minutes with a mitre saw and a piece of scrap plywood. All my client has to do now is to stain the edge of these square shims to match the frame colour mahogany, and finally play on the table  making some good high breaks.
Blackburn finished with templates in
As you can now see the templates including the middles now fit perfect
Blackburn jeremy finished table
The finished table set up ready to play.  I am sure our client and his Father-in-Law who kept me supplied with tea all day will have many a happy hour spent on this table now it is playing correct.

I also took the nets up one loop as the client was complaining of balls getting stuck in  sagging nets.  By taking up one loop the net sag disappeared.  I also wrapped each end of the net around the wire loop screw rather than tacking it!

The pocket plates were also loose and screws had been stuck into the lug holes to try and lift them up and stop them rattling.  A simple thin strip cloth packing inserted into the twin lug holes was all it required to make the two pin pocket plates fit tight and not sag down.

Next month I am opening up another full size snooker table’s pocket openings to 3.3/4 inch.  This is because that client is now a qualified development coach.  He has sought advice from other coaches and they recommend larger pockets for young people who are new to the game. By having 3.3/4 inch pockets they will gain confidence and mature into good players who will then go on to play on tables with tighter pockets with that confidence.  Otherwise they may just give up because they have not gained that confidence and experience of potting balls and making breaks.

This makes sense to me, but some good players frown upon it.  What they do not realise is confidence is the main thing to build on, the skill factor comes next.

I often tell them a story about a young teenager I knew back in the 1980’s playing in a club in Sutton in Ashfield in Nottinghamshire.  He was playing on pockets that were close to 4 inches!  I made a remark to him, “you will not make it as a pro playing on pockets that large”.  That young man was Gary Wilkinson.  He was once ranked 5th in the world!