One of the most important things a shuffleboard expert should keep an eye out for is the thickness of the playing field. Serious players will begin to notice that even the most reliable boards will get dents and dings after repeated victories.
The disks sliding along the sand, the sound of the weights on the glass gives each player that satisfying feeling that can only come from a well-kept playing field. The thickness of a shuffleboard has a major consequence on the upkeep of your field and the enjoyment of your game.
It’s important to understand the labels or descriptions of the shuffleboard tables that you’re buying. There are a few qualities that are almost always present. One aspect that you should really be looking for whenever you’re searching for the perfect model is the thickness of the wooden slabs.
HANDY FACT: The most contemporary shuffleboard tables have a thickness of 3”, which is a pretty good number to take as a rule of thumb.
Thickness mainly depends on the ratio of finishes and sealants to the dimensions of the wooden blocks. Paying attention to table thickness now will increase the durability and reliability of your purchase.
The Polymer Revolution
The shining surface of a brand new shuffleboard table is a beautiful sight, but that glimmer doesn’t always come from the same materials. While that new field look can seem more or less equal across different models, every shuffleboard manufacturer has their own method of sealing and finishing the tops of their products.
When shuffleboard tables started to gain widespread popularity, manufacturers faced the problem of high demand but costly supplies.
The industry underwent a revolutionary change when epoxy polymers entered the scene. Epoxy polymers give the table a shine that lasts longer than traditional shellacs and lacquers, and were more resistant to dents and dings. This new material made shuffleboards much more affordable, opening up the game to more people.
Unfortunately this left the possibility of the overuse of epoxy polymers. Some models can have too much epoxy polymer on top, diminishing the actual thickness of the wood.
Wood is the Word
The Polymer Revolution did a lot to expand the market for shuffleboards, but what about the thickness of the actual wood?
Sealants and finishes used across the board all take up a bit of the number you read in the description. This just means that you as the consumer need to factor these materials in.
When a label reads 3”, it doesn’t necessarily refer to the wood alone. Some tables with polymer finishes have more layers of sealant on top of the wooden surface.
HANDY FACT: Most contemporary models use, on average, 0.25-0.5” of sealant and finishes.
When looking for a table…
DON’T assume the number in the description for the actual thickness of playing field.
DO look for key words that tell you whether the number stated is the thickness of the wood itself or the combination of the wood and the top layers.
A few years down the line…
Just like a car or a house, shuffleboards need to be maintained and , especially if they are made to be played outside. When you start to notice that your usually perfect plays are lagging, it’s time for a table transformation. This is when you really start to notice how important thickness is.
If you have a table with too much polymer on top, you have to fight through all of those layers to get down to the actual slabs underneath. Not only is this a hassle, but you’ll still have to sand down the wood itself in the end. If the wood’s thickness has been compromised too much, the lifespan of the table is shortened.
On the other hand, your friend with a lacquered shuffleboard table told you just last week that he’d already sanded down his table a few times, but he still has more thickness to his field. This simple fact means that he’ll have a few more years with his field.
Whether a table is sealed with polymers or traditional finishes, proper care and maintenance is required to keep them in ship-shape for the best gaming experience, but a thicker board makes a table last longer.
What’s it to a Pro?
You’ll hear quite a few professional shuffleboard players talk about how much they prefer true resin finishes on the top of their fields rather than the newer polymer coatings. Shuffleboards from the Golden Days of the 50’s used extremely thick boards with very light coats of traditional finishes. These tables weren’t as resistant to damage and required more frequent sanding and refinishing, but their thickness made it possible for them to survive until even the present day.
HANDY FACT: Some older shuffleboards have fields with up to 3’ of thickness.
While today’s models don’t have 3’ tall wooden playing fields, these remnants of the glory days highlight the importance of thickness for an authentic and pleasurable experience that will stand the test of time.
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