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Drilling Holes In Formica Pool Table

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Forum topic by Adamal posted 03-19-2015 09:36 PM 1029 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Adamal

58 posts in 1462 days


03-19-2015 09:36 PM

I’m thinking about putting new Formica on a used pool table that I just got. One of the issues I’m trying to plan around is drilling the 18 holes around the table for the sights. They’re the markers around the table – typically mother of pearl – used for lining up shots.

I’ve tried a test with some old laminate that I put on some plywood. I used a forstner bit in my drill press and the results weren’t too bad, but I’m not going to be able to use my DP on the table. I tried the same bit in my hand drill and the results sucked. Once you cut through the laminate, the laminate disk rides on the end of the bit and causes it to wander enough to ruin the hole.

Does anyone have a better idea of how to drill perfect holes for these inlayed doodads?

Would I be better off using real wood veneer? The prices aren’t that different. The thing is, it’s not a great table. It’s basically a bar table without the coin mechanism.

Thanks.

Here’s a pic:


12 replies so far

View gfadvm's profile

gfadvm

14940 posts in 2151 days


#1 posted 03-19-2015 09:43 PM

Stop and remove the laminate disc as soon as it breaks loose, then drill to the depth you want. Might also try a paddle bit as the longer ‘spur’ may keep it from wandering.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View willie's profile

willie

533 posts in 1915 days


#2 posted 03-19-2015 09:52 PM

A sharp brad point bit will work too.

-- Every day above ground is a good day!!!

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gfadvm

14940 posts in 2151 days


#3 posted 03-19-2015 10:20 PM

I’ve had brad points cut those little discs like the Forstner’s do.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View willie's profile

willie

533 posts in 1915 days


#4 posted 03-19-2015 10:28 PM

Yeah, you’ll have to remove the little discs, they can be a pain. Whatever bit you choose, just make sure it’s sharp! You’ll get a cleaner edge.

-- Every day above ground is a good day!!!

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Adamal

58 posts in 1462 days


#5 posted 03-20-2015 04:23 PM

Thanks all.

I just tried a not-very-sharp 5/8” paddle bit and you know what? I did a pretty good job!

More experimentation is needed…

Now, for a question about cutting laminate…

View CueballRosendaul's profile

CueballRosendaul

484 posts in 1601 days


#6 posted 03-21-2015 01:36 AM

Use a pre drilled piece of maple as a guide that you hold down tight to the surface to avoid pulling up the laminate. Also remember that laminate is plastic, so slow motion and a super sharp bit is critical. Put a stop on the drill bit to keep the depth shallow. I assume you’ve bought some new diamonds? You can buy fake ivory or real mother of pearl pretty cheap.

I owned a pool room and table business for many years and did a lot of rail work. Stick with a good tough laminate, not real wood.

As you work on it, let me know is you have any other questions or needs. Chances are good that everything you’re doing, I’ve done many times before.

-- Matt CueBall Rosendaul. I don't think I've ever had a cup of coffee that didn't have cat hair or sawdust in it.

View MrRon's profile

MrRon

3926 posts in 2705 days


#7 posted 03-22-2015 07:29 PM

If you go to a craft store, like Hobby Lobby, they have round discs in all sizes, colors and materials. All you would need to do is bore a shallow home and glue a disc in place.

View firefighterontheside's profile

firefighterontheside

13449 posts in 1318 days


#8 posted 03-22-2015 07:37 PM

I put the laminate on over sized and cut flush with a flush trim bit.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View daddywoofdawg's profile

daddywoofdawg

1010 posts in 1036 days


#9 posted 03-22-2015 07:51 PM

Put blue tape over the area you are going to drill,helps keep it from chipping.

View Adamal's profile

Adamal

58 posts in 1462 days


#10 posted 03-23-2015 08:45 PM

I appreciate the ideas!

Cueball, I haven’t bought the sights yet and I’m trying decide what size and shape to get. The old ones were 1/2” aluminum cylinders. I’ve removed them and bought a 1/2” dowel to fill in the holes.

Is there a reason you said to stick with laminate? I’m now leaning towards cherry veneer because it’s so much easier to cut (and actually cheaper). There are so many place where I can’t use a router to trim and I can’t figure out a good way to cut the laminate. I thought wood veneer would make things a lot easier.

View willie's profile

willie

533 posts in 1915 days


#11 posted 03-23-2015 09:15 PM

You can “cut” laminate with a file. Look for a file designed specifically for plastic laminate. It has a more aggressive tooth and will cut quickly. It’s a good idea to practice on some scrap first. If you get too aggressive or try to go too fast, you can do some damage. With a little practice it’s pretty easy.

-- Every day above ground is a good day!!!

View CueballRosendaul's profile

CueballRosendaul

484 posts in 1601 days


#12 posted 03-24-2015 01:27 AM

The rails take a beating even with normal use. Chalk, cues, belt buckles and other things will scratch the veneer and look terrible pretty quickly. If you DO use veneer, use many many coats of hardwood floor finish to build up a tough finish. Laminate is pretty easy to work with in my opinion. It’s not uncommon for a ball to get airborn or otherwise dropped on the rail which will make a nice dent too.

I’d get some pearl inlays from somewhere like the dukeofpearl.com. They have real pearl dots for about $.68 a piece. They also have gold pearl and abalone for the same price. Good source for pearl anyway for any other woodworking projects.

-- Matt CueBall Rosendaul. I don't think I've ever had a cup of coffee that didn't have cat hair or sawdust in it.

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