Welcome.  Within these pages you will find the work of custom cue maker Ron Kilby.  Since 1987 he has created cues for players of every level.  In 1995 he began to focus on carom cues, with their traditional wood-thread joint and characteristics distinct from pool cues.  His designs span a wide range, from traditional butterfly points to avant-garde cues including precious stones, scrimshaw ivory, exotic inlays, and segmented shafts.

 
   

Billard Table Conversion

 

Having performed the conversion of numerous old Brunswicks, I offer the following process:

 

I obtain Verhoeven rubber (Kleber Gray) directly from Messrs. Verhoeven, Lucas or Derek, in Belgium (Telephone 011-32-3312-1159, FAX 011-32-3311-7450).  http://www.verhoeven-biljarts.be.  They are fine people to work with.  They will advise you regarding current pricing (approx $175 plus $50 shipping per table in 1999) and how to wire funds to their Antwerp account.  Ask them to use UPS and you will avoid customs difficulties (nothing serious in any event).

 

The conversion is not difficult for a normally skilled woodworker with access to a good tablesaw and bandsaw.  The most precise work is shaping the poplar rail liners to replace the old ones on the table.  While it is sometimes possible to modify the old liners, they are generally in poor condition; one will be money (and years of use) ahead to build new liners.

 

Use kiln-dried 8/4 poplar for the new liners, NOT Philippine Mahogany or maple or other woods.  Maple is too hard as a liner, and makes removing staples for recovering a most difficult process.  Philippine mahogany (Lauan) is too soft and will splinter badly after only a few recoverings.  It is not essential to build ten-foot liners if that length stock is not available.  I have used 60” liners and butted two together in making the long rails.  From my experience, expect a 10-20% waste from the poplar twisting as it is cut – if the wood is heavy, it is too wet.

 

Cutting separate end blocks for the corners, not simply putting a wedge on top of the liner, will make long term maintenance easier by being able to replace the entire block when corner stapling wears the ends out.  The blocks measure 2” X 2” to fit the corners nicely.  Angle the face that will be stapled through the cloth inward perhaps 5 degrees, so the top edges butt each other but taper slightly away from each other down to the table; this will provide clearance for cloth folds and staples and a bit of a “dust hole” under the rail (European tables all build this way).  You will need four right-ends and four left-ends per table.  Assemble the liners on the rails with one end block attached before you apply the rubber, then cut the rubber to length and glue on the remaining end block.  I used an air- nailer with 1 ½ brads on both liners and end-blocks, in addition to gluing and clamping the liners.

 

I have dimensioned the liner cuts on the drawing; these should fit virtually every old Brunswick you might encounter The contact point on the nose of the Verhoeven rubber is actually a little lower than you will want to make it – that is why the liner-shelf height is 31/64.  (If you make the shelf 15/32, you will likely get a “hop” off the rail.)  The nose height should be between 1 29/64 and 1 31/64.

 

I had greater success using a bandsaw with a resaw blade (1/2 or ¾) to cut the old liners off the rails than using the table saw.  I could avoid cutting into the main rail easier and a little hand planning finished the cuts nicely.  If the old liners are original and quite worn, you can even pop them off with a broad chisel (2-3” width) and a mallet! (Worked like a charm on some tables!)  If your liners have been replaced before, check them carefully for screws or nails before running them through the saw; it can be a nasty surprise!  Don’t assume a carbide blade will survive the nails:  the carbide will dull or chip when it hits the nails or screws and the blade will immediately warp in the cut – you could ruin a rail in seconds!

 

You will attach the new liners to the rails with the rails bolted to the table.  Loosely bolt the rail to the table.  Set the new liner in place on top of two layers of old cloth (you are going to get some glue on the cloth in the assembly process, so you will need several strips; lay a feather strip in its channel and move the RAIL up or down slightly to obtain the correct transition from rail to liner, then tighten the rail bolts modestly.  IMPORTANT:  On various models of the old tables, you may find the bolt holes in the rails will not permit lowering the rail to the proper height for the new liners to be flush, perhaps as much as 3/8" difference.  If that is the case, and before you glue on the liners, elongate the existing bolt holes using a 5/8 forsner bit in a drill press.  The rail skirt will hide the elongated hole (as will the bolt washer).  Now you can glue and nail the liner and one end-block to the rail (table is of course level and true).  (I use Titebond II yellow glue to attach the liner.)  When dry you can apply the rubber cement, than lay the new rubber as described below.

 

Water-soluble contact cement is the best for attaching the rubber to the liners.  Be generous with it.  The stretch you want to achieve on a short rail when laying the rubber is about 1/2 inch, and about twice that on a long rail.  Don’t try to get more than that, and a little less is fine.  Putting on the rubber is definitely a 2-person job; don’t even think of doing it alone.  One person holds the rubber, liberally covered with dried contact cement, above the similarly covered liner.  The second person lays and gently stretches the rubber along the liner, seating it firmly upon the liner shelf, then pushing it against the 20-degree face.  Cut the excess rubber with a sharp box knife, then glue and nail the second end-block.  It is not imperative that the rubber be glued to the end-blocks as the ball never touches this point.  Easy job – for TWO people.  You can apply cloth an hour after the rubber is attached.

 

I cannot overemphasize the importance of installing rail cloth properly, and by that I mean TIGHT!!!  The bed cloth should be tight, but straight with the weave is more important.  The rail cloth should be so tight you think it will rip (and a few have).  It is a three-person job.  To begin, put one person on each end of the rail cloth with vise grips (I use sheet-metal vises in which I have glued rubber jaws).  One person holds the short tail firmly, so the person laying the feather strip can concentrate on that job (I spray the feather strip with 3-M glue to increase its tackiness).  The third person at the long tail is pulling the cloth carefully in a straight line while the person seating the feather strip does their thing.  (The person normally working with me on the long tail uses a waist belt with the vise grips and is putting ALL 220 lbs into the pull.)  The pull is so strong that the person on the short tail is essential – the feather strip alone wouldn’t stand the pull.  I use a couple of 9/16 carpet tacks to lock the ends of the feather strip.  Now you turn the rail upside down to staple down the cloth.  Finish the short tail end.  Now the long tail person resumes their pull, being careful not to pull on a bias away from the feather strip (easy to tear at this point.  The other two people work together, one pushing the cloth over the nose and the rail liner, the other stapling alongside.  European table mechanics lay their staples right together, sometimes even overlap them to prevent the cloth from relaxing.  Use your own judgment, whether or not you will take pity on the poor fellow who must remove all those staples next time.  Finish the long tail end and take a break.

 

 

John Stauffer, who used the system to put Artemis rubber on his table, offers the following method to lay the glued rubber onto the liner. Temporarily attach (brads) a 1/2" strip of poplar, 1/16 to 3/32" thick, down the length of the top, horizontal surface of the new liner. Position the strip so it is uniformly 1/16" back from the 20 degree surface. Then, when putting down the cushion w/ contact cement on it, I simply place the first several inches of the top-back edge of the cushion in the mini-step that is at the edge of the strip. My partner is holding up the long end of the cushion, rotating it a bit as needed. I then "roll" the cushion over, into perfect position on the supporting step. I then advance several inches down the cushion, and position it on the mini-step (at the same time giving it some stretch), and then "roll" it right into position, pressing it well into position. At the same time, my partner is applying some stretch as well (she is not strong enough to over-do it). I just work down the whole length in that fashion; then trim the end and attach the end-block.