The Poplar Sub Rails are a very intricate piece of the pool table. There are angles everywhere,
dado's, rabbits, and a few other obscenity's that go into the making of one of these. However, it is one
of the most important parts of the table. The bumpers glue directly to the sub rail, and provide you with
a nice, straight edge to bank your balls. (There is a great cartoon of all of this at the bottom of the page.)
Don't panic! These sub rails can be ordered pre-cut and are available from bestbilliards.com.
The cost of these sub rails is easily justified in the time and money saved from doing it yourself. The cuts and angles are intricate and must be exact for
the table to play right.
The other piece to the rail is the hardwood. This is the visible wood on the rail, so you should use the
same hardwood used for the cabinet. The Hardwood should be 3/4" thick and anywhere from 3" to 3-1/2"
I wanted wide rails, so I originally attached a 4-1/2" piece of Hickory to the sub rail. I discovered
later that this would be a mistake. A rail that wide would eventually be torn from the sub rail from being
leaned on -- too much leverage power.
Fortunately, I could trim it down to size. I ended up with 3" wide hardwood rails, which ended up looking
really nice on an 8' table. I think anything wider would have made the table appear top-heavy.
Cutting the Grooves for the Blinds
Before you attach the hardwood to the sub rail, the groove, or dado, needs to be cut into the bottom.
This groove will hold the top of the blinds, which will be shown later.
To do this, I measured back around 1" from the end of the hardwood rail (One inch back sounded like a
good place for the blinds to go.) I set my straight cutting router bit to about 1/4" depth, and clamped
down a self made gate made from the left over poplar, to match the one inch I chose for the blinds to be
set back. I then routed each piece. The bit was only 3/8" inch wide, and I needed a 3/4" groove, so I
had to readjust the gate, and go over each piece again to make the full groove.
Attaching the Hardwood to the sub rail
The sub rails came longer than I needed (which is good.) I left them long just to save a few cuts. I cut the
hardwood to length, but left them an inch long. I did this because there is a lot of gluing and
clamping to be done, and I'd rather have everything dry and set in place before I cut the rails to the
exact length. Visit the Rail Length Chart for rail lengths to get your rail measurement
(leave an extra inch)
The hardwood should be glued to the rail with an ample amount of Tightbond II.
I clamped the rails both from the top and the width (shown here.) You need to clamp the width of
the rails so
the hardwood buts tightly against the dado for the feather strip (which holds the cloth into place - also
I made a big mistake at this point, which later cost me two drill bits, and a trip to the store to buy
more. Instead of leaving the rails in the clamps, and letting the glue dry for three or four hours,
I blasted a few brad nails into the assembly to speed things up (mainly because I only had enough clamps
glue one rail at a time, and I wanted to move faster.) Down the road when it came time to
drill holes into the rails, I ran into many, many, nails with my 3/4" drill bit. Life was not good at
NOTE: The picture shown here, with the clamps, shows the hardwood portion of the rails at 4-1/2" wide.
I did cut these down to 3", and had to re-route the dado for the blind groove. The back of the groove
ended up being against the sub rail. It worked out great.
Routing the Rails
After all of the rails were dry, I routed the edges with the same bit I used for the trim. Again, pick
the routing bit that matches your preferences.