Shuffleboard Table Buying Tips
1. What Size Shuffleboard Table to Buy
The first thing you want to consider is the size of the table you’re looking for. Many shuffleboard tables are made in a variety of sizes, but you need to be sure that the model you are considering is offered in the dimensions for your requirement before you start shopping.
Shuffleboard tables are offered in different sizes ranging from 9 feet to 22 feet. You will need at least 2 feet of clearance space (3 is even better) on all sides of the table so make sure you don’t cram a large table into a small room.
2. Shop for Shuffleboard Tables by Size
Tournament Style Shuffleboard Tables measure 22 feet in length but many of these models are offered in compacted styles all the way down to 9 feet. For home use, 12‘ to 14’ has always been the most popular size.
3. Playfield Size and Thickness
Traditional shuffleboard tables are 2” to 3” thick. This allows for a stable playing field that can also be machine sanded if your table needs to be refinished. In the past, most tables were built using hard maples. Nowadays, many tables are made of soft maples, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Soft (Canadian) maple playing fields are acceptable because of advances in finishing techniques. Polymer finishes are stronger than lacquers of the past, providing a smooth finish with added protection from dents, dings, and scuffs. The sections below will explain more about shuffleboard surface materials.
4. Surface Materials
The material used on your shuffleboard table surface is much more important than just smooth and shiny playing fields. Having a surface that is made of durable wood is important because shuffleboard tables are often damaged by dropped pucks and high impact experienced during the game.
Soft maples offer more economical, but they are still very reliable when finished with polymer. Poplar, North American Maple Wood, White Maple, Russian Birch, and Canadian Soft Maple are other materials used for shuffleboard tables. Maple, birch, oak, and mahogany are the best materials. Above all, you want a solid hardwood playing surface because they are stronger and more immune to dents, dings, and other accidental damage.
5. The Cut of Playing Surface Pieces
If you look closely, you’ll see that the surface of the table is made of many different pieces of wood (planks) that are glued, laminated, or attached together through other means. The best tables are made with 20-inch-wide surfaces that are 2” to 3” thick. 3” tables are the standard for custom tables. Thinner surfaces cannot be refinished as many times, and they don’t provide quite as much stability as thicker tables.
Sometimes manufacturers will reduce the width of individual planks to keep costs down. These tables are comprised of 15 -16” wide planks. Yet and still, the manufacturing process of shuffleboard tables has evolved so much in recent years that there are some great tables out there. It’s not unheard of to hear about shuffleboard tables that have been around for over 50 years. That’s an incredible amount of time for any piece of home furniture!
6. Shuffleboard Table Finishes: Polymer vs Traditional Finishes
The finish of your shuffleboard table is one of the most important aspects. Polymer (epoxy) finishes are poured on top of the table to prevent air bubbles from forming on the table. Spray on finishes is inferior to finishes that have been poured. A poured polymer finish is important because the puck will damage and crack the finish if there are any imperfections in the surface.
Polymer finishes are also better than simple lacquers and shellacs that were the standard 50 years ago when shuffleboard first became popular. These traditional surfaces wear out quicker (in 3-4 years) and simply do not offer the same durability as refined polymer resins. Polymer finishes are so strong that your table will not be damaged by dropped pucks, even if coated on top of a soft maple. They are usually ¼” thick and offer a lifetime warranty; it’s almost like an extra layer of solid materials placed on top of the wood deck.
Technically speaking, polymer finishes are thermosetting polymers, one of 2 types of plastic (the other being thermoplastic). Thermosetting polymers are melted, and only take shape once. This means that once they are poured and have solidified, they stay in that shape because of a chemical reaction that is irreversible. This is why polymer finishes are so durable.
7. Structure of the Outer Cabinet
The outer structure of your shuffleboard table plays just as important a role as the actual surface of the playfield. This is what holds the entire table together. Professional shuffleboard tables are made with solid hardwood outer cabinets while cheaper tables are made with MDF particle board.
Solid hardwood cabinets also add weight to the table to keep them in place during intense games. Finishes on these tables range from laminates to veneers. Make sure you read the details because sometimes it can sound like you’re getting a solid wood cabinet but when you read closely, an “oak finish” is not the same as an oak cabinet. They are just describing what the cabinet looks like here.
8. Climatic Adjusters
Shuffleboard Climatic Adjusters allow you to maintain the right curvature in the playing field of your shuffleboard table. Changes in temperature and humidity levels can cause your table to become concave or convex. Not all shuffleboard tables come with them so make sure you look for climatic adjusters. Climatic adjusters are a must for anybody considering playing shuffleboard somewhat seriously.
Climatic adjusters are simple to use and very straight forward. They are adjusted using a bolt and screw system. To get this exactly right, most prefer to pay for professional installation.
9. Scoring System
Shuffleboard tables are available with 2 different types of scoring grids. The 3-level grid, also known as the 1-2-3 scoring system, is most common. The other option is the triangular scoring grid that is typically used on outdoor shuffleboard tables . This grid features a triangle with six different scoring sections.
Well-made shuffleboard tables separate themselves vastly from lower quality tables. You’ll be able to feel the difference instantly. Using the information that we’ve just shared, you are now more knowledgeable about shuffleboard tables, and you know what buzzwords, materials, and finishes to look for!