How to Replace Pool Table Pockets

Even if you’ve taken due care of your pool table, there will eventually come a time when you’ll need to replace worn out parts. You can’t fight the expiry date on most things, and pool table pockets are no exception to this rule.

In the case of your pool table pockets, you will need the aid of specific tools to replace them, more specifically, a socket wrench. You can tell your pool table pockets are worn out when you take a shot and the ball rolls out onto the floor.

Most important pool tables are made using leather. It is common for leather to get cracked and dried over time, eventually becoming brittle.

This becomes worse with the action of the balls. As they hit the deteriorated baskets, the weight and force eventually take a toll on the leather, breaking it in the process. The balls will then end up on the floor.

The average lifespan of pool table pockets is between 15 to 30 years. For the most part, the pool table pocket goes unnoticed and doesn’t get much attention. You won’t even know it until the pockets cave in.

You can replace the baskets on the existing pocket irons as a cost-effective and temporary measure, but it is far more effective and permanent to replace the entire set of billiard pockets with new irons.

A lot of DIY-ers out there try to find innovative ways to fix pool table pockets, with varying success. Some try painter’s tape, duct tape, and even zip ties – these can catch the ball before it hits the floor.

None of these are optimum solutions and should be used until you can either get professional help or find the time to replace the entire set of billiard pockets.

Replacing pool table pockets doesn’t have to be a difficult task, so long as you follow the proper instructions.

How to Replace Pool Table Pockets

Below are the steps to replace the pool table pockets

Step 1 – Unscrew the Pockets

You will have to carefully search for the screws underneath the pockets. They are very carefully hidden. You should be able to feel the shape of their outline by using your hands.

Once they are located, use a drill to unscrew them. You may need custom pockets to replace bolted on pockets since they are not easily found compared to tubular pockets and modern cloth.

Step 2 – Remove the Pocket Cover

Remove the cover that holds the pocket in place and pop off the old pocket. You can easily purchase a new set of pockets for your particular table in sets of six if you want to replace them all.

Alternatively, you can also sew new pockets based on the pattern of the old ones.

If you don’t want to remove the entire piece, use a heavy strip of cloth or rivets to attach new netting to worn pockets.

It is not advisable to sew on new netting because it will easily fray and unravel, which means you’ll have to replace it again sooner rather than later.

Step 3 – Replace with New Pockets

Buy a new rail system with built-in pockets to redo your pool table. The new pockets should utilize cups or sliding tube systems to catch incoming balls.

It is relatively easy to replace cups by removing them. They are inexpensive to replace, easy to clean and don’t require a lot of maintenance.

You can tidy up your felt for more efficient play to overhaul the entire pool table if it has undergone heavy wear and tear.

How to Repair Pool Table Pockets

Below are the steps to repair a pool table pockets:

Step 1

Carefully search for the screws underneath the pockets in the pool table. They are very carefully hidden. You should be able to feel the shape of their outline by using your hands.

Once they are located, use a drill to unscrew them. You may need custom pockets to replace bolted on pockets since they are not easily found compared to tubular pockets and modern cloth.

Step 2

Use a socket wrench to remove the bolts underneath all 12 side rails.

Although these pockets and rails are still connected to the table, once the bolts have been removed, ask a friend or assistant to help you lift the pockets and rails from the pool table.

Step 3

This may seem very similar to the previous step.

You will need to use the socket wrench to remove the end and side rails. A good idea is to start with the corner pockets. Your goal should be to remove all the rail pockets.

Step 4

A metal tab is attached to each corner pocket.

Slide each tab into the holes of the rails for each corner pocket, this ensures that it’s bolted. Use your instead of the socket wrench to place the bolts in place.

Step 5

Step 5 involves a repetition of the previous step for each corner pocket. This ensures they are attached to the rails and side.

Make sure to start with a corner pocket before getting to the side pockets. Once the corner pockets have been connected, tighten the loose screws with a socket wrench.

Step 6

Flip the rails and the pockets in their correct position with the help of an assistant. Now connect all the 12 screws back to their correct positions.

Use your hands to lock them in place before using your socket wrench to tighten them. Make sure the bolts are neither too tight nor loose and stay snug in their spot.

Finally, use the screw from step 1 to attach the pocket straps beneath the pool table.

Leather vs. Plastic Debate

Before you decide to replace your pool table pockets, you have to first decide between plastic and leather.

Leather Pockets

Leather pockets have been used on pool tables since the very first pool tables were designed. They are still a top choice because of their ability to be stained to match the color scheme of the corresponding pool table’s wood colors.

These pockets come in shield and fringe designs, depending on the pool table design and one’s taste. Leather pockets are available in many finishes to help you complement your pool table and interior décor.

Over time, the leather will lose its stain, requiring you to change the cloth or color of the pockets.

Many experts prefer leather because it is far more durable than plastic and can withstand high-intensive play when balls repeatedly slap into them. They do start wearing out eventually.

Plastic Pockets

Plastic pool table pockets are a budget-friendly option for non-slate pool tables. Unlike leather pockets, they are used in contemporary style pool tables that are designed for entertainment purposes.

They only come in black and are prone to wear and tear after little use. They easily get damaged as a result of cracking, brittleness, and constant moving.

Since plastic pool tables are relatively cost-effective, they are easy to replace and don’t cost a fortune. Any DIY-er can install these plastic pockets using the right sized nails and a small tack hammer.

Do keep in mind that the center pockets may need to be adjusted for proper fitting. For long-lasting pockets, you may just want to opt for leather pockets or heavy-duty rubber pockets that can last for much longer.

If you’re not sure which pool pockets to get, go for plastic pool table pockets because they serve the functional purpose, at least for the time being. If you care about longevity and aesthetics, go for leather pool pockets.

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