It’s easy to look at a pool table and say, “Sure, that will be hard to move, but it won’t be that hard.” And, if you know what you’re doing, it isn’t that hard. My problem is that I didn’t know what I was doing the first time I tried moving a pool table. It was a difficult and trying venture, even with 5 other buddies to help. This inspired me to write this article, How to Move a Pool Table: A Complete Guide.
Read on if you want to find out how to move a pool table the right way, step by step. You can benefit from my mistakes to make sure you move the table safely, efficiently, and without breaking anything (the table or your back).
Note: This guide focuses on moving slate bed pool tables (both 1 and 3-piece). There are MDF (wood) pool tables out there that are pretty heavy and fairly difficult to move, but they don’t present the challenge that heavy slate bed tables do. Plus, slate tables are more common than MDF tables.
A Quick Overview of Moving a Pool Table
If you’re still debating hiring a professional pool table mover for your table then this quick overview is for you. It will give you a birds-eye-view of the process of moving a pool table. So, if you’re still on the fence, you can read over it without having to read the whole article.
- Supplies, Equipment, and Help
- You’ll need a few things (and a few helpers) to dismantle and transport your pool table.
- Make a Plan
- Before you get started, know how you’ll accomplish every step of the process.
- This is where the work begins. You’ll need to disassemble your pool table so you can transport it safely.
- This is all that’s involved in moving your pool table from one place to the other.
- Once you have the table in the new location, you need to put it back together.
How Long Does It Take to Move a Pool Table?
The overall time it takes to move a table depends on the size of the table, your experience dismantling/assembling pool tables, and how far you’re going. The time it takes to drive from one location to another is easy to figure out. Everything else depends.
Most pool tables can be disassembled and reassembled in 2 to 3 hours for those with experience. Those without should plan for 4 or 5 hours. Keep in mind that these are only estimates and do not factor in the time it takes to transport the table.
Step 1: Gather Supplies, Equipment, and Help
Before you start taking your pool table apart, you should make sure you have everything you need to do the job.
Supplies and Tools
Here is a list of supplies you’ll need to move your pool table. Some of these tools can vary depending on the table, so having a stocked toolbox around is always a good idea.
- Needle nose pliers or a heavy-duty staple remover.
- A power drill with various bits.
- A set of screwdrivers (both flathead and Phillips).
- Carpenter’s level.
- Machinist’s level (optional).
- Sheers or a cutting tool.
- A black marker.
- Labels for marking and identifying pool table pieces.
- Socket wrench set.
- Moving blankets or bubble wrap.
- Resealable plastic bags (various sizes).
- A moving van or large vehicle.
- Moving dollies (optional).
- A minimum of 2 helpers who are physically capable of lifting over 100 pounds.
Step 2: Make a Plan
Now that you have all your supplies and equipment gathered, or at least lined up for the job, it’s time to make a plan. Moving a pool table while other people will be asking you for help or interrupting you is a recipe for disaster.
There are lots of little pieces that need to stay together when you disassemble the table in the next step, so you want to make sure you can focus your attention on the table and nothing else. It will make your life easier when you go to reassemble it later, I promise.
Here’s an example:
- Arrange details. Will you be able to move everything at once? If you have a moving truck or another cargo vehicle, you likely will. Are there stairs involved? If so, you may need an extra person— especially if you have a 1-piece slate.
- Begin pool table disassembly. Allow for 2 hours, or 1 hour if you’ve done it before. Arrange for 1 person to help you with this step.
- Arrange for the rest of your help to show up approximately when disassembly is done. Everything should be labeled and ready to move when help arrives.
- Carefully transport all the pieces of the table, taking special care with the slate by using dollies, blankets, and/or bubble wrap to protect it.
- Arrive at destination and begin reassembly. Allow for 3 hours, or 2 hours if you’ve done it before.
Having even the most basic plan will help things run smoothly. The last thing you want is to arrive at the destination missing some pieces of the table or not have enough people to help you move it if there are stairs.
Step 3: Disassemble
With a plan and supplies taken care of, you can begin taking the pool table apart. If you have an owner’s manual for that particular table, follow the instructions inside. If not, follow the instructions below.
Rails and Pockets
Identify the head of the table. This is where you stand when you break. The foot is where the object balls are placed at the start of the game. Start at the head rail and work your way around the table, taking the bolts out. Place the bolts in a bag labeled for the rails.
As you work around the table, remove the staples securing the pockets to the rails. Sometimes these pockets are secured with staples, other times screws are used. Remove the hardware from the pockets and put it in a bag labeled for the pockets.
Once you have all the bolts, staples, and screws out, you can remove the rails and label them with removable labels (head rail, head rail right, foot rail, foot rail left, etc.)
Removing the felt is usually the most time-consuming portion of disassembly. If you want to salvage the felt, you’ll want to carefully remove it. If it has been stapled in, you’ll want to take out each staple, one by one. This is where it’s handy to have a helper.
If the felt has been glued on, you can try removing it by pulling it back from the table. This should allow you to remove it without stretching it or tearing it.
If you are having the table re-felted after the move, you can simply rip the cloth off.
If you’re saving the felt, fold it carefully, and prepare it for transport.
Next, use the black marker to draw a circle or an arc across the slate if it is three pieces and mark the head piece if it isn’t already marked. Remove the screws from the slate using the power drill. Place them in their own bag labeled for the slate.
Three-piece slates are usually joined with beeswax or some kind of putty which should come apart easily as you remove the pieces.
Remove the slate pieces by sliding them away from each other a few inches with the help of your assistant. Do this to avoid breaking any dowels that may be between the pieces of slate. Remove the putty or wax and wrap the pieces separately in moving blankets or bubble wrap for transport.
Remove the Legs if Need Be
Now that you have the heaviest part of the table off, you can try moving the frame with the legs intact. Measure any doorways, turns, and hallways to see if you can move the frame with the legs attached. If not, remove the legs.
Step 4: Transport
Moving the slate is the hardest part because it is heavy and brittle. If you have a single-piece slate, you’ll likely need 4 or 5 people to move it. Slate from a 3-piece table can usually be transported using 2 or 3 people per piece. You’ll want to lay the slate flat. Do not prop them against a wall or place them against anything because they can crack or break somewhat easily.
Everything else should be labeled and transported as safely as possible. Do it all at once, if possible.
Step 5: Reassemble
Once you have the table in the new location you can reverse the steps for disassembly above. However, there are some additional steps to take as you reassemble the table:
- Level the table once before you put the felt back on and again after the whole table is assembled.
- If you have a 3-piece slate table, you’ll need to re-join the slate with beeswax or something similar.
- Make sure the side rails are in line before tightening down the bolts. You can do this by sight, looking down the length of the table at rail-level.
Do not try to assemble the table upside down and then flip it over when you’re done. This is very difficult to do and increases the risk of breaking the table of injuring your helpers.
That’s what it takes to move a pool table! It’s a great way to learn the nuances of your table and it helps you realize why hiring a professional to move a pool table costs as much as it does!