Can you help design a high quality table?

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Pete Bowe
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Can you help design a high quality table?

Post by Pete Bowe » Fri Mar 14, 2014 11:17 am

Hi everyone, Please excuse the long post from a newbie, but can't seem to find the answers I'm looking for anywhere else so I thought your shared experiences would be invaluable.
I want to build a table, but a very good one. Luckily I have access to very good materials and fully kitted out workshops for carpentry, metal working and fibreglass/composite and don't mind putting in a bit of time and research into getting the design right. So it's a bit of a wish list I'm looking for from you, what do you recommend? Thinking it should be about playability and practicality, not gold player nonsense. This is as far as I've got, welcome suggestions or changes in spec.
Disclaimer: I know that the big manufacturers put a lot of research and time into all this but at the end of the day they are trying to reduce costs to the minimum, sometimes at the expense of playability one might suspect.

Firstly will need the dimensions and specifications, ITSF don't seem to provide the exact required sizes for goal mouth, depth, shape etc. (would a different interior goal shape reduce bounce out arguments?). I imagine there is a set distance or ratio for the positioning of the players?
For the playing surface, are there any specific benefits to using thick MDF with a Formica laminate, or blasted glass for the playing surface? Or is it simply personal preference? Has anyone played on a glass top table that was backlit? Was it practical or annoying?
What are the best corners and bumpers for play? Buy them from major supplier maybe?
I think that the cabinet should be as utilitarian and solid as possible with adjustable feet and extra weights to add to the stability.
For the bearings is there any reason not to use low profile self lubricating graphite composite? Also it seems that through bars rather than telescopic are best according to the tournament photos I've seen, but what about the material? If they are built from 316l stainless steel they would last better than chromed steel but hardened tool steel would be much less likely to bend under load, but is there a weight advantage/disadvantage to play? Would it be better to have lighter bars made of a carbon composite? High density rubber bumpers or springs on rods?
For the players, I was thinking counter balanced with a pete.bowe@cegetel.net pattern milling on round bases that should in theory give really good grip . Materials? What do you suggest? I saw the 3d printed players, don't have access to one yet though. Is there a mostly accepted " this is the best material for " list anywhere?
To answer the obvious question, is it worth it? Maybe not, but I want to build the best table possible, just short of aeronautical grade construction.. What would you guys recommend for spec? Thanks for your patience on this ridiculously long post..

willhawkes
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Re: Can you help design a high quality table?

Post by willhawkes » Fri Mar 14, 2014 9:38 pm

Hi Pete,

Thanks for your interest. I'll have a go at answering your questions...
I want to build a table, but a very good one. Luckily I have access to very good materials and fully kitted out workshops for carpentry, metal working and fibreglass/composite and don't mind putting in a bit of time and research into getting the design right. So it's a bit of a wish list I'm looking for from you, what do you recommend? Thinking it should be about playability and practicality, not gold player nonsense. This is as far as I've got, welcome suggestions or changes in spec.

Disclaimer: I know that the big manufacturers put a lot of research and time into all this but at the end of the day they are trying to reduce costs to the minimum, sometimes at the expense of playability one might suspect.
It would be good to know why you're doing this - if it's because you want the best possible table in the world, actually the ITSF-recognised ones are mostly well engineered and you'd be hard pushed to do better in terms of playability - particularly if you haven't done one before. In particular (personal view) the Tornado and Leonhart are produced to a high spec. Going further up the food chain, there is a bespoke German table called Libero which is very expensive but also very well engineered.

But if you're doing it for the sake of an interesting challenge, well that's a different thing.
Firstly will need the dimensions and specifications, ITSF don't seem to provide the exact required sizes for goal mouth, depth, shape etc. (would a different interior goal shape reduce bounce out arguments?). I imagine there is a set distance or ratio for the positioning of the players?
Nope. You can do it how you like. Although you should stick to the 1 - 2 - 5 - 3 configuration. And you'll have to think very carefully about all your ratios, e.g. ball width to player foot, ball width to goal size, player length, spacing between players, etc. You might want to start by measuring up some other tables and seeing how they're done.

If you engineer the goal right (e.g. with a plate inside set at 45 degrees) you won't get bounce-outs
For the playing surface, are there any specific benefits to using thick MDF with a Formica laminate, or blasted glass for the playing surface? Or is it simply personal preference? Has anyone played on a glass top table that was backlit? Was it practical or annoying?
Slick glasstop tables aren't great fun to play on unless you're Italian. We prefer to be able to have some control over the ball and for that you need a degree of friction on the surface, whether by sandblasted glass (Garland) or something "stickier" e.g. the almost-lino surface on a Bonzini.

In terms of lighting, anything from above = good idea. From below - haven't seen it but it might be annoying.

What are the best corners and bumpers for play? Buy them from major supplier maybe?
No idea on bumpers. Corners, well you can raise the playing surface itself (Leonhart, Bonzini) or put in plastic ramps (Garlando), the former is probably preferable.
I think that the cabinet should be as utilitarian and solid as possible with adjustable feet and extra weights to add to the stability.
Yup. You want it heavy like a tank or it will shake all over the place.
For the bearings is there any reason not to use low profile self lubricating graphite composite? Also it seems that through bars rather than telescopic are best according to the tournament photos I've seen, but what about the material? If they are built from 316l stainless steel they would last better than chromed steel but hardened tool steel would be much less likely to bend under load, but is there a weight advantage/disadvantage to play? Would it be better to have lighter bars made of a carbon composite? High density rubber bumpers or springs on rods?
No idea on bearings. Through bars are better from a playing perspective but not if you have children around. There are benefits and disadvantages to heavier and lighter - lighter means it's quicker but bendier, heavier - more study, maybe more power. Most tables have rubber bumpers but you can get away with springs.
For the players, I was thinking counter balanced with a pete.bowe@cegetel.net pattern milling on round bases that should in theory give really good grip . Materials? What do you suggest? I saw the 3d printed players, don't have access to one yet though. Is there a mostly accepted " this is the best material for " list anywhere?
Counter balanced is better because you can put them up and they don't fall down again, also a little bit smoother to play with.
To answer the obvious question, is it worth it? Maybe not, but I want to build the best table possible, just short of aeronautical grade construction.. What would you guys recommend for spec? Thanks for your patience on this ridiculously long post..
Like I said, it depends what you're doing it for. If you look around on the Internet, a few people have made their own tables (there's a video on YouTube somewhere) quite often then are using parts from other tables, e.g. buying the players, rods, bumpers from China online etc and assembling - using Tornado or Fireball parts, for instance.

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Boris
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Re: Can you help design a high quality table?

Post by Boris » Sun Mar 16, 2014 8:09 pm

Playfield dimensions
Length 110-120cm (120cm if fully-rotating goalies)
Width - 65-72cm
Goal - 20cm (most common)

Player spacings
Goalie - needs to cover the whole of the goal but not extend beyond the posts
2-bar - The players should leave no more than one ball width to the edge of the goal when fully inserted (right back, far post) or fully extended (left back, near post)
5-bar - The player figures should fully overlap when fully inserted or extended
3-bar - The player figures should fully overlap when fully inserted or extended

Most rods are 16mm diameter, would suggest using proprietary bearings, rubbers or springs, handles etc.

Cabinet - Needs to be sturdy and give a good 'bounce' one the side and end walls. Materials vary, typically MDF, marine ply (Garlando) or beechwood (Bonzini) but this gives an opportunity to be innovative. Weight needs to be at least 90-100kg to provide stability. Legs should be levellable and stable to avoid jarring during play.

Figurine design - another opportunity to be creative, need to avoid the ball lifting when struck, so wedge-shaped feet are popular, which are also good for passing, but rounded toes (in profile) give control, tread can help impart spin for brush-passing etc, a wider profile with flat sides of the feet is better for tic-tac shots, push-kicks and pull kicks, and push/pull shots. Counterbalancing is good, but spinning round too freely causes problems where the ball hits and ungrasped man and is stopped, only for the man to spin over and hit the ball back into goal.

Playfield - needs to be flat and provide grip - laminates, sandblasted glass and linoleum feature in ITSF tables. Most tables have ramps in the corners which can either be part of the play field moulding or tacked on (as per Italian style tables).

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robmoss2k
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Re: Can you help design a high quality table?

Post by robmoss2k » Mon Mar 17, 2014 9:42 am

willhawkes wrote:If you engineer the goal right (e.g. with a plate inside set at 45 degrees) you won't get bounce-outs
This isn't entirely true - I've seen bounce outs on every table type I've ever played on. The only way to really guarantee that you won't get bounce outs is to have a very deep goal, perhaps a foot or so of travel before the ball hits anything, and then a surface that dampens spin on the ball when it's hit. Even a 45 degree angle will still bounce out with enough spin on the ball.

A nice touch would be to have a gyroscopic levelling system.
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Fast Eddie
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Re: Can you help design a high quality table?

Post by Fast Eddie » Mon Mar 17, 2014 1:08 pm

Hi Pete
I think it would be a good idea for you to call in at Torny , have a chat with the players and look at the tables. Good Luck


Fast-Eddie

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Brian Harms
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Re: Can you help design a high quality table?

Post by Brian Harms » Mon Mar 17, 2014 2:52 pm

Hi Pete,
I'm sure you are googling ' foootball table design' or similar phrases to get some initial ideas from sites such as http://www.foosballsoccer.com/tables/features
Perhaps some thoughts on quick assembly/dis assembly and storage at the design stage so that a home table does not need a room all to itself which is often a drawback to WAGs ( or HABs )
A feature I saw on a table once had the longer sides like old medieval stocks and you could quickly position the 8 bars and lock in position and remove when not in use.
Brian H

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