Billard Table – Diagram With Sizes and Dimensions

Billard table diagram

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The Elements of a Billiard Table

The game of billiards has been around for a long time, evolving throughout the ages. Noblemen and commoners alike played this game, making it one of the most popular games to be played in Europe. In fact, billiards was so famous, it warranted a mention from The Bard, himself. What do you really know about this game, however, and the table on which it is played? If your knowledge is limited to the most basic of facts, this article will help to broaden your horizons a bit…

The Dimensions of a Billiard Table

The first thing that should be addressed is that there are different types of billiards games. The most common remain the Carom and English games. These games do have a great deal in common, particularly in the ways that the tables have been designed. The Carom table doesn’t have pockets while the English table contains six pockets.

The dimensions of the boards tend to vary unless they are specifically being used in authorized competitions. Usually, you will find that total dimensions of the table are 3.10 meters in length and 1.67 meters in width.

A billiards table is surrounded by raised columns known as rails which are 12.5cm wide. The rails running the length of the table are called long or side rails. The ones outlining the width are known as short rails. Atop these rails are the cushions which need to be 37mm tall.

The actual playing field is lesser than the total billiard table – leaving the length at 2.84 meters and the breadth at 1.42 meters. In accordance with the Union Mondiale de Billiard (UMB), a reigning authority, billiard tables can be smaller or larger by 5mm and still be acceptable for competition. The slate on which the billiard table sits on must be precisely 45mm thick. Nonetheless, if the table is not being for a professional game, the slate can be thinner, around 25mm.

Each of the pockets of the billiard table needs to be of equal size. The pockets must be 0.08m in diameter so that the balls which are 0.06m can pass through.

There can be variances in how high a billiard table is, but not by much. The highest point of the table needs to be between 0.75m and 0.85m above the ground.

What Are Billiard Tables Made Of?

Billiard tables are made up of a variety of materials, each of them serving their own purpose. The main frame of the table is made from hardwood. This is because such materials are capable of withstanding added pressure. They are also quite resistant to most nicks and dings, allowing the tables to be used for a long period of time. Just as important perhaps, is that these types of wood look quite good as well. The most popular options for the frame are poplar, oak, maple, and mahogany. Tables that are meant for recreational use may contain less expensive, cheaper quality woods. Some even use a mix of hardwood and softwood to maintain durability but to cut down on cost.

The other main part of a billiard table is the slate. This is what allows the playing area to remain level. Certain authorities such as the UMB may allow professional tables to be made from a material that is similar to slate. For the most part, however, quarried slate continues to be used. For tables of a higher quality, diamond honed slate is utilized due to the precision of the cut. They result in three perfectly even slates of the same size. The higher-end slates are also matched. This is done to ensure that the three slabs of slate line up perfectly with one another. As long as the slates are at least 2.5cm thick, it is considered good quality.

The covering that goes atop the slate is made from wool. Interestingly enough, this is the same material that was used for some of the earliest billiard tables as well. The cloth is not always required to be completely made of wool, however. As long as most of the material consists of wool, the rest of it can be a blend.

The rails are made of wood as well although these tend to be made from both hardwood and softwood. It is typically preferred that the cushions are made from vulcanized rubber. These are more robust and don’t tear easily.

The Evolution of the Billiard Table

As odd as it may be to believe, billiards is actually a descendant of a French lawn game that rather resembled croquet. While that game was played in the grass, billiards was a game that was cultivated indoors and on a table. Still, vestiges of that original game remain. For instance, you will notice that even modern billiard tables have a green playing field to mimic the color of grass.

The billiard table that you know today evolved from playing surfaces that have looked a lot different. It is difficult to know when the first billiard table came into existence but one was found in the possession of King Louis XI of France. This table was made from stone, with a cloth covering the playing area. It also had just one hole in the center of it.

In the beginnings, the rails were only there for one purpose – to stop the ball from rolling off the table. Due to their similarity with river banks, they gained the nickname “banks”. Of course, players soon realized that they could make shots by shooting the ball of the banks. This caught on and became intentional.

The other thing that has changed most about billiards is the cue, which was initially known as maces. This is because they resembled hockey pucks more than the cues that you see today. The balls were pushed instead of being struck. When the maces became quite cumbersome, the cues were quickly adopted.

For the longest time, billiard tables didn’t have a set length and manufacturers more or less chose the dimensions. It was only during the eighteenth century that the tables were given a uniform length and width to abide by. By 1850, the modern design and the rules of the game were fixed.

Tables Similar to a Billiard Table

It is very easy to mistake a Pool table for a billiard table and vice versa. This is because you will be hard pressed to find differences between these two tables. In fact, the only real disparity is that a Pool table is slightly smaller than a billiards table in both length and width. This means that, in a pinch, you will be able to play billiards on a Pool table. You will just need to make sure that the pockets on the Pool table are large enough, however. This is because the balls used in a billiards game tend to be larger.

Snooker tables, too, may share some resemblance to both billiard tables and snooker tables. However, the playing area of this table is much larger. The dimensions for a snooker table are 3.6 x 1.8 meters. The balls in Snooker are also a great deal smaller. Therefore, the pockets would need to be of an appropriate size for the billiard balls to pass through.

This is what makes up the modern billiard table. It is astonishing to think that there is so much of history and thought that went into the creation of something that you are quite familiar with. As you can see, a billiards game is a lot more complex than you may have imagined.


Last updated on November 24, 2017

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