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Antique Pool Billiard Table Restoration Repair

40 Broadway Albany NY 12202   (518) 434-2800


Notes On Restoration


These photos illustrate the dramatic change from unrestored to restored. But they also illustrate the principle of bringing the color of the wood and inlays back to their original richness and intensity. Simply stripping, sanding and applying a new finish will often yield a variety of dull browns lacking in the liveliness and intensity originally intended.

Much of the design may be lost because of a lack of separation in color and light and dark.


We search the table for areas that have most retained their original qualities and bring the rest of table up to that level through a tedious method of dying and blotting that can take weeks on a table like the one seen here.


The same principle is applied to simpler tables and larger areas of mahogany, walnut and rosewood.

Unrestored railtop shown on left and restored railtop to right shown with new rosewood veneer and newly inlaid ivory diamond.


The correct geometry of a table's pockets is critical to good playability and does not “just happen” on antique tables without a good deal of knowledge and deliberate refitting and manipulation.

The precisely shaped wood to which the cushion is attached will often need re-cutting, repair, modification or even replacement to ensure correct cushion height (for proper bounce) and regulation pocket openings.

Pocket irons are very important to a table's authenticity, character and aesthetic appeal. We use original irons -- repairing and welding as needed and re-plating with nickel.

Many times irons are slightly or even greatly different in their shape or gesture and this contributes greatly to the individuality of the table.

When the correct iron is not available, we will have irons newly cast at a local foundry using an original for a pattern. These new irons will be machined and eventually nickeled. We could buy new, generic, chromed pot-metal irons for a small fraction of the cost of reproducing authentic ones But we feel the right irons are important to the finished table.

Our pockets are all hand-sewn.

The component parts of our pockets are selected for their Quality and authenticity.

We dye our own leathers so they will have a dyed, not painted look and they will age gracefully without chipping. We have fringe custom made for us so that it is the correct length and thickness for antiques, not the new, long, ropey look.

We use leather shields instead of fringe where appropriate. Baskets can be crocheted or leather, both of which we dye. Inexpensive, complete new pocket sets are available, but we feel the investment of our time and effort in detail pays off.

For a close look at our pocket work – click on the thumbnails below

BBC “Regina” -- before and after

A common problem with flair or elephant-leg tables of this era is that the corners of the legs become damaged and eroded. Common solutions are either to round-over by sanding and disguise by staining (which loses the original crisp silhouette of the design) -or- to rebuild the edge with bondo or shellac stick and faux paint (which leaves a repair that is very vulnerable to re-damage). Our solution is to rebuild the wood substrate and re-veneer the affected area leaving a near-invisible repair that is as structurally sound as new.


Our guiding principle in solid repair is to replace everything that needs replacing and nothing that doesn’t thereby addressing every structural issue while maintaining originality.


The rail at right is shown with the top veneer removed and repair to the area around the mortise for the pocket iron and along the front edge of the rail-top next to where the cloth will be. New veneer will now be put over the top of these repairs and new ivory diamonds inlaid into the veneer.

Repair has also been done to the vertical part of the T-rail where pocket leathers will be tacked. All repairs are solid, not filler, especially important in these areas that will be asked to hold tacks.

These are examples of marquetry, (often referred to as “inlay”), done by us in our shop.


The top image shows an inlaid skirt. Tables are often missing some or all of their decorative skirts. These add so much to the total impact and overall shape of the cabinet that it is a shame to

“restore” a table without it’s skirts or with blank versions. We research to find the correct design and make a faithful copy.


The bottom image is a rosewood and mahogany in bird’s-eye maple panel which we made to replace a damaged original.


We go to great trouble and expense to provide each table with its correct nameplate. People forget that there were many makers besides Brunswick, and many with wonderful nameplates.


Here are two examples of originals and our remakes which help preserve the authenticity as well as the charm and uniqueness of the tables they belong on.

We have found that by paying attention to detail and working diligently on each individual part of the table,

we have been able to produce a finished product which has consistently met and surpassed our expectations and the hopes and expectations of our clients.


These photos represent one of our most dramatic “before and after” transformations and we show them to make the point of how important the quality of the restoration is to the finished product.


It is only natural when considering the purchase of an antique pool table, and confronted (maybe for the first time) with the myriad of styles and shapes and colors and degrees of ornamentation that exist – to first ask “which one do we want?”


Then, having narrowed the choice down to a few, it is an obvious next step to see who has these models - and it naturally follows to then compare prices.

What we feel is often not realized enough is that the restoration is a very big percentage of the finished product and that the same model table restored by different shops can and will come out very differently. The restoration can easily be more important to the finished product than the original condition.


The “devil is in the details” and the range of care and effort in how one approaches the many aspects of the work is great. The cushions, the pockets, the geometry, the structural stability, the veneer repair and re-gluing, the ivory and other inlays, the staining and finishing and attention to aesthetics, and on through to the installation and leveling – All of these lend themselves to varying degrees of skill and competence and care.

Clients are different also, and some have more of an eye for and a concern for quality and detail than others, but it is important to have confidence in your restorer because it is more common than not to agree to the purchase of a table prior to its restoration. There may be a trade-off between finding a table already done and waiting to have one done especially for you, taking into account your preferences and priorities.


The table shown here, nicknamed “Miss Lilly”, spent her youth in a New Mexico saloon in the late 1800’s and was passed down through the family till we found her in that same town, slowly deteriorating toward oblivion till we rescued her.


The couple who purchased “Miss Lilly” saw her in the unrestored state and had the imagination and enough confidence in us to commit to the project.


They were not disappointed.

In fact, the most common comment we get when we deliver a table is that is more beautiful than expected.


Any good restorer will be glad to tell you how they do things and why. It is also good to know who does the work and where it’s done and how long is typically spent on a table. If possible, a visit to the shop is ideal to see if it is a “good fit”, but conversation by phone and email and samples through the mail can be good communication as well. We have met many of our clients for the first time when we showed up at their door with their table; and it’s great to see their relief and excitement when the pieces of their restored table start to emerge from the packing blankets!

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Bankshot Antiques, 40 Broadway, Albany NY 12202

(518) 434-2800


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