Open up pockets on a modern snooker table for teaching aid in Nottingham, plus coaching scheme for up and coming younger players

Today I have been over to one of our regular clients whose table I have recovered around three times now.  My client has recently passed his coaching course and is awaiting DBS clearance to work with young snooker players to coach them to a higher level of play.

In readiness to coach these younger players, it was recommended to him that to keep them interested in the game, they should play on a table with wider pocket openings.  As our client has his own personal table, he decided to widen the pocket openings from match play 3.5 inches (as seen on TV) to 3 3/4 inches, a 1/4 of an inch wider.
The pocket opening after the alteration is now 3 3/4 inches at the drop of the slate fall.

We will keep you informed about our client’s new venture, and if any young person, male or female, wishes to have a personal snooker coach, then our client has the facility to coach one-on-one or to small groups of 2 to 4 persons.
The excellent Riley Aristocrat snooker table in light oak is now ready for coaching, having just undergone pocket widening and the fitting of a brand new Strachan 6811 Tournament 30 oz all wool cloth.  The room is fully heated and the table plays very fast and true.  It also benefits from pro-style lighting and Aramith Pro 1G snooker balls.

Replace standard Snooker cushions with steel block cushions on this Oak Riley Square leg in Derby

The majority of Snooker / Billiard tables were made in Mahogany, so finding second hand cushions in oak is not an easy thing to do, finding them with steel cushions is almost impossible.  But I managed to track a set down for my second cousin and old school friend Mick Kirkham.

Last Christmas I installed a snooker table that Mick had bought many years previously from Anthony Hamilton, the snooker player from Nottingham, and had it installed in an outside barn.  This time he was having it put in a new extension basement purposely built for the table. Mick and his Brother totally stripped and renovated all the wood work on the frame and the standard Riley cushions, before I re-rubbered them and erected the table.

Here are a few photo’s of that install last year. Before I show the upgrade to Burroughs and Watts period steel cushions circa 1895.
slate in basement lowering in
Mick used a crane to load the slates into  the basement before he capped a floor over the basement

When first installed Mick had the original set of Riley cushions on.  He had heard of steel block cushions and he said if I ever came across a period set of steel cushions with oak surround he would upgrade to these.
Above photo: the table when finished in December 2013.
Again a photo of his original Riley oak cushions in December 2013 when I put new Northern rubber onto them and cut the pockets for this Riley table .
Kirkham cushion son before recover of steels
11 months later November 2014 , and above you see the same table but this time I have just fitted the steel cushions and had re-rubbered these cushions and re-cut the pocket openings and  angles to Professional template size.
The above photo shows the cushions after this successful operation.  I call this the dry run fitment to make sure everything aligns up.  It is always best to re-rubber on the table the cushions are going on and not to guestimate the pocket openings on a work bench.
You will see we are protecting the bed cloth with sheets of cardboard during this fitting process.
kirkham corner template uncovered steels in position
This next photo shows the replacement second hand steel cushions on the table with the template fitted snug within the jaws of the pocket opening.
Note the thickness of the steel plate, on this early prototype steel set the plate is 1/2 inch thick, on late steels they are 3/8th thick.  Also the end of the steels is angled on early sets and straight on later sets as the next two photos will show.
There are not many early 1/2 inch thick sets of steel cushions around so an even rarer find with this set.
Kirkham early type angle steel ends
In this photo my finger is pointing to the angle of the steel plate where it meets the end tack wood block.   These end blocks are very difficult to make as you have to work to angles and rebates to make them.
As you cans see from this later edition steel cushion the angle is now not here and the steel is longer to almost come to the end before the end tack block is seen.  You can also get other variations of steels with compound angles where the actual steel is also bevelled at the ends, this is how the modern steel block cushion you see on star tables today have evolved.  Burroughs and Watts were experimenting as they went along in production, so it is easy to spot an early type built around the time they first used steels in the year 1895/6.
Early type had thicker steel and angles on the end.
Kirkham shavings with slips on table
I add this photo to show my fitting friends in Canada that you actually shave slips of wood down to trap the cushion cloth into the back routed out slot in the steel cushion and not use spray on glue contact adhesive
Kirkham slip in back of steels
This photo shows the planed down slip inserted by tapping in with a flat thin plate into the rear of the steel cushion, that is what the slot on the rear of steel cushions is for.
Note the Strachan 6811 tournament cloth, this is what we recommend for good quality play and good life span. 100% pure new wool no man made fibre mix with this cloth, as Tina Turner sang, it’s simply the best !
Kirkham corner steels template in
Kirkham centre steels template in
The above two photo’s show the cushions fitted tot he Riley table, and with the templates in position fitting snug.  We also fitted a new set of Peradon leathers and best quality nets.
When mick tried to strip the cushions of the oak Steel surrounds, they would not stain up light oak, this was down to the age of the oak and the stains it had taken before not coming out, so he stained it a honey oak and also re-stained the frame to match.
kirkham riley steels finished spot endkirkham-finished-table-610x457
As you can see the table in 2013 with standard cushions and the table in 2014 with steel cushions fitted
Kirkham old cushions stacked up
This leaves Mick with a problem with what to do with a fantastic condition set of Riley oak cushions that will fit a Riley table with welsh slate and 5 bolt holes on the side cushions.  I have instructed him to put them up for sale on my web site for £350 the set.
They come with new Northern rubber fitted in December 2013 at a cost of £325, all the wood work repaired some with new bottom mouldings, sealed and finished and come complete with the original pocket plates and nets and leathers.
Anyone who has an old oak Riley table with knackered cushions that require a re-rubber and also broken wood work, then look no further. These cushions would be a much better buy than having your old cushions re-rubbered and the wood renovated.
Kirkham set of old riley cushions and pocket plates

They come with all slide in panels and an end Riley name plate period to the table, and the cushion cloth has not had more than 40 games played on it.

I will be advertising this set of cushions for sale in the for sale section of our web site so if you are interested in them please phone Geoff on 07753466064 , it will be cash on collection from Ockbrook near Derby.

Table 1 refurbished at the Nottingham Snooker Academy

Today we brought forward a recover that we should be doing next week, but with a holiday booked we moved it forward.

Table one, the first table as you enter the Nottingham Snooker Academy, is a Riley Club circa 1920/30.  These are one of Rileys most popular tables off the production line.  You may notice that the legs have some rings turned into the middle section.  You will find this type of table in nearly every snooker club in the country.  They made them in their thousands and must have been the most popular model Riley have ever made, along with the basic square leg Imperial model.
NSA Table 1 Nottm snooker Academy
NSA practice on new cloth table 1
Lined up for practice, the new recover gets a try out before a match.  Note the table in the foreground, this is the next table lined up for a refurb next month.  This really shows the old nets and leathers and old cloth up with a fresh re-covered table next to it.
NSA close up practice on T1
A close up of the re-furbished playing surface in Strachan 6811 Tournament 30 ounce cloth plus new nets and leathers.
acadamy finished table
Just to show the difference, above the old lighting in the Academy before the fitment of the modern lights.  This is yellow light and dingy showing bright spots of the bulbs on the cloth.  Below the new lighting, bright white light, high frequency non-flicker.  Which would you rather play under ?
NSA all 4 with lights and seating
The new look Embankment cue sports room, now hosting the new Nottingham Snooker Academy, with plush seating on a raised plinth for good viewing.  Plus the new high frequency twin tube lighting with cool white lighting tubes, less shadow, better sightlines, better for the fitter to see what he is re-covering.  It’s a win-win situation, a great snooker venue for serious match play and to learn the game from a qualified coach.

GCL Billiards are proud to be associated with the Nottingham Snooker Academy.  We even wear the new NSA logo on our black polo shirts, along with the NBSA logo.  We also display both logos on our new van.  We like to do our bit to promote the venue.
polo shirt logos

Wanted: Full size oak snooker table ….NOW got one !

6th july 2013 …located a full size riley imperial from Burgh le Marsh near Skegness via ebay seller , dismantled and loaded onto clients van , cushions awaiting new rubber and re-polish  in the workshop then its set up in clients re-furbished barn conversion near the welsh borders .

We have a client who is requiring a full size snooker table in oak to go in his oak beamed barn conversion, at a good price, that is relavant to the current market.

The table must be in good condition woodwork wise.  The two types that he likes are the Riley Viceroy and the Riley Imperial.  There is not much to choose between these two, the Viceroy has deeper arches and the chunkier the leg the better as I know there are some thin 6 inch oak Imperials about.  We prefer the 8 inch version like the one in the photo below.  They really look great in old barns with the oak beams.

Get in touch with Geoff right now if you have one for sale or know where there is one in good condition.

Contact email or phone 07753 466064
oak imperial