One of my grandparents favorite activities is to play shuffleboard at their senior activity center. While visiting, I noticed that our table had a slight concave but didn’t know if that’s how it was supposed to be or if it was just the state of this particular table. I decided to do a little research to find out if a shuffleboard is typically flat or curved.
So are shuffleboards tables flat? They are not typically flat. Climate adjusters are used to add a slight concave to the playing surface to help prevent the pucks sliding into the alley. If your shuffleboard is flat then it isn't aligned properly.
Why Shuffleboard Tables Are Not Flat
A concave board not only helps to keep the puck on the table but it also gives the players more diversity in their moves rather than simply sliding the puck across the table. The concave helps a player add more spin to the puck which can make a game more competitive and more fun. For beginner shuffleboard players, this can add an extra challenge because it has a direct effect on the speed of the puck while also distorting the pucks trajectory.
Using the climatic adjusters you can test the difference a change in angle can make and choose your own preferences. Some brands of tables even have angled edges in order to add extra prevention from the puck falling off. These edges aren’t so angled that the puck bounces off the sides but just enough to allow the puck to be slightly over the edge which is commonly referred to as a ‘hanger’. In the traditional shuffleboard rules, hangers are awarded more points than pucks that land in the normal scoring zones.
As I previously mentioned, the shape of the board changes with the seasons. In a drier climate the wood of the table tends to form a natural concave but in wet weather conditions the wood curves upward. You can prevent this using a shuffleboard cap which keeps moisture out and adds extra protection.
Vertically staved shuffleboards are the most warp-resistant shuffleboards. Vertically staved means that the table is made up of one layer of wood created by connecting wood pieces side by side making one large table surface. Temperature-controlled areas can also help you avoid warping the wood. Changes in weather are the reason why sellers don’t recommend you keep your board in an outdoor area.
Some parks have outdoor shuffleboard courts made out of different types of smooth tile that don’t warp in different climates. To play on courts, the rules are very similar but you push your puck using sticks. Install these courts in your own backyard so you can enjoy the game as well as the weather.
How To Fix a Warped Shuffleboard
If the changing of the seasons has changed the angle of your board your climate adjusters provide on easy fix. Climate adjusters are located underneath your table to put pressure on the wood, creating whatever shape the player prefers. The amount of adjusters needed depends on how long your shuffleboard is but a table typically requires 4-6 adjusters.
To install a climate adjuster, you screw the two support beams to the bottom of the board horizontally. There are two nuts on both sides of the two support beams (four nuts all together). To make your board more concave you need to pull the two support beams closer together by loosening the middle nuts and tightening the nuts on the outside.
To get a perfect concave you won't be able to tell the difference in angle with your naked eye. Most people use what is called the paper test. Adjust the concave of your table so that if you place a leveler on the playing surface a piece of paper will just be able to slide underneath it.
The Differences in Shuffleboard Finishes
There are many different kinds of finishes to apply onto your shuffleboard that have different advantages and disadvantages. Each one differs on its ability to withstand the bending of the shuffleboards wood.
A shellac finish has a very shiny, glossy look and makes for a nice surface for your puck to glide easily. Shellac doesn’t serve as a very protective surface and needs to be reapplied often but it’s a relatively easy process.
A lacquer finish is more durable and flexible than the shellac but is used more for its ability to hold the wood’s color. It’s still not the most durable finish and it’s not as glossy as shellac.
An epoxy finish is pretty much just plexiglass which gives a more protective and durable finish. However, it isn’t a very flexible finish, scratches easily, and tends to yellow when in direct sunlight.
A polyurethane finish is thinner than epoxy making it more flexible. It is also more scratch resistant and can handle temperature changes better. Epoxy is more durable than polyurethane since polyurethane must be refinished after several years but is still the preferred finish because of its flexibility.
Types of Shuffleboard Wood
The quality of a tables wood tells you the quality of the whole table. Manufacturers use both softwoods and hardwoods.
Softwoods are of course going to be the cheaper route. They aren’t as durable as hardwoods but with a good finish they can last for a decent amount of time.
Hardwoods can withstand much more damage than softwoods and last a whole lot longer when taken care of. Dropping a puck on the table is less likely to chip the wood and the table isn’t likely to move during a game. Some good hardwoods to look for in a table are birch, mahogany, oak, and maple.
The Right Length For a Shuffleboard Table
The length of shuffleboard tables can vary quite a bit (9-22 feet). Obviously, the longer the table the harder the game is going to be. In order to figure out what length you would like to get you must figure out how much space you have for the board.
It’s important to keep your board away from windows since the sunlight can change the color of the wood. Windows mean more exposure to moisture and also are a liability from pucks that are thrown too hard.
Shuffleboards use up a ton of space so the amount you have available is the primary focus. Envision how you want your shuffleboard space to be. If you want guests to enjoy it as well, how much room do you have to provide for the spectators.
Shuffleboard Table Wax
Game table stores typically have a wide range of accessories you can purchase to keep your shuffleboard in good shape. One thing that is almost necessary to play the game is table wax.
The purpose of wax is to lessen the friction between the table and the puck as well as provide extra protection for the table. However, a table with no friction at all can cause dangerous situations.
Waxes are graded 1-3 depending on the speed they allow, 1 being the slowest and 3 being the fastest. The wax you choose is based on your ability to control the puck as well as how long your table is. A fast-moving puck can be a dangerous thing. Just like in a game of pool objects can go flying.
If you’re using a wax you have had no experience with make sure you use slow movements starting out so you get a better feel for the slick surface. Because longer shuffleboards require more force, higher level waxes are used.
Using fast waxes on short boards is not recommended. Wax can be in the form of a spray, glaze, or powder. Shuffleboard ‘sand’ is also used in order to prevent direct contact between the puck and the table. The sand I’m referring to is not the beach kind but are tiny silicone balls that help the puck move easily.
How Do You Score in Shuffleboard?
Shuffleboard is a pretty simple game to play. The goal of this game is to get your puck in zones with the highest amount of points. You can hit your opponent’s puck into the ally of the table to make them lose points. As mentioned earlier, when your puck hangs over the edge of the table (a hanger) you get extra points.
Does Outdoor Shuffleboard Have Different Rules?
Outdoor shuffleboard is a little bit different from table shuffleboard. Instead of having an ally to push your opponent’s pucks off of you have zones to push pucks out of. The 7 zones are each pieces of a triangle that the players must slide their pucks into using sticks.