Owning your own shuffleboard allows you to play at your own leisure and control some aspects of the game. Having access to your own table allows you more control over the game as adjustments can be made to suit your gameplay.
Shuffleboard tables can generally be made level by adjusting the legs, but more micro adjustments to playing the field are made using climatic adjusters. Climatic adjusters are used to ensuring a level playing surface for gameplay.
Climatic adjusters are essentially supporting beams which sit underneath the surface of a shuffleboard table. These support beams create a slight bend in the wood of the playing surface. The support beams slide on a horizontal axis and are kept in place by usually 4 bolts along a threaded stud. Each support beam has two bolts, one on the outside and one on the inside.
Shuffleboard climatic adjusters maintain the correct shape of the table for an optimal playing experience. Climatic adjusters are used to ensuring your table has a slightly concave, which will decrease the chances of weights falling off the side and into the gutters.
Shuffleboard started as a traditional pub game invented in England during the 15th century and was played by the aristocracy. It has since become increasingly popular with younger people and it is now very common to see tables in bars and clubs across Britain and the U.S.A. Owning your own table allows access to the game at your own leisure but it does involve some maintenance and adjustments to ensure a smooth game.
How to Level the Table
Before starting work on any adjustments, vacuum and wipe all dust and powder from the table and gutters to ensure accurate measurements. Then clean and polish the board.
Setting up a shuffleboard for the first time or moving board will require you to level the table. Shuffleboard tables vary in length but are usually within a 9-22 foot range or 2.7-6.7 meters, and are at least 20 inches or 510 mm wide.
Place a spirit level on top of the cradle directly over the legs of the table. Adjust by turning the threaded feet on each leg until the cradle is level in that spot. Record how much the board is out of level at each set of legs. If you find the entire board is downhill in one direction, look at the adjustment bolts on the bottom of the legs.
If you can see an inch or more of the threads on the bolts, then it is suggested starting at the high end of the table and screw the bolts in to lower the higher end. Remember the further out the bolts are the less stable the table will be.
You may need to use an open-ended wrench to adjust the feet. If there is a locknut on the foot adjustment you will need two. Remember that only one full turn each time is needed as each adjustment will affect the adjoining section.
Move onto the next area over the next leg and repeat the process until that part of the board is level. Depending on the brand and the length of the table there will be less or more legs. Continue until you have worked your way to the whole of the table.
A downwards table will cause the weights to move faster; where a flatter table will require more pressure to move the weights. Some players prefer playing on a slightly downwards table where others prefer the table to be completely flat.
Depending on the type of flooring used, a shuffleboard table will usually take a few days to a week to completely settle in. This means that you may need to do a little fine tuning after the board has settled. Once set up and leveled the board will still need some adjusting from time to time. The next stage is to examine your playing field.
Examine the Playing Field
First, determine if your shuffleboard’s table alignment needs adjustment. Examine the condition of the playing surface. If the surface is rough, uneven or showing visible damage it may not be an alignment problem but rather that the surface needs to be refinished.
A straight edge level can be used to check the curvature of your board. On each end of the board above the climatic adjusters, place the straight edge along the board. You should be able to tell right away if the board is flat, convex or concave. If it is high in the middle, the straight edge will rock and if it is low in the middle, you will see some light.
Ideally, you want to be able to slide a piece of paper under the center of the straight edge. It should be difficult or impossible to slide the paper under the straight edge near the sides of the board. The paper test will get your board roughly close to standard alignment.
The surface playfield of a shuffleboard is made of wood and will, therefore, be affected by changes in humidly levels and temperature. Humid weather will cause some swelling and drier conditions will cause the board to contract slightly. If the shuffleboard tables alignment is off, you will need to use climatic adjusters. The climatic adjusters will compensate for these weather changes.
What Are the Climatic Adjusters?
Climatic adjusters are a set of hardware placed in certain places along the board which curves the board inwards at the start of the board, flatter in the middle and then concaves again over the scoreboard. Sometimes shuffleboards tables include them, but they can also be purchased separately.
Shuffleboard climatic adjusters are used to maintain the correct shape of your table, to ensure the best playing experience. Shuffleboard tables should have a slightly concave, which means the board curves slightly outwards. To ensure that the weights do not fall off the side of the board into the gutter.
Shuffleboard climatic adjusters are essentially two supporting beams that sit underneath the surface of the table, creating a slight bend in the playing surface. The climatic adjusters apply pressure to the board curving it either outwards or inwards. Each of the support beams has two bolts. One on the inside and one on the outside.
Depending on the size of the shuffleboard table, you can usually expect to find between 4-6 climatic adjusters beneath the table. A misaligned board can dramatically affect game speed and accuracy.
Finding the Correct Alignment
While your opponent may want to blame it on a lack of skill, if your weights (sometimes referred to as pucks) repeatedly falling off the edges of the table into the gutters, it may be issues with your shuffleboard table level or alignment.
The correct shuffleboard alignment is ultimately determined by the player’s preference. Standard professional shuffleboards are typically set up to be slightly concave or curving inwards towards the middle. The slight concave curve assists in keeping weights on the playing surface. An excessive curve can drastically reduce the challenge of aiming weights making the game too easy and is therefore not recommended. Some players prefer a perfectly flat table to increase the difficulty.
How to Use Climatic Adjusters
The climatic adjusters work in a similar manner to braces on teeth. Tightening one way will pull the centre of the board down. Tightening in the opposite direction with push the centre of the board up creating the desired curvature. Remember you want the board to be slightly concave at each end or the table or dead flat across the table depending on your own preference.
The climatic adjusters are two supporting beams which sit underneath the surface of the table to create a slight bend in the playing surface. These support beams slide on a horizontal axis and are held in place by 4 bolts along a threaded stud. Each support beam has two bolts; one on the inside and one on the outside. A typical shuffleboard has between 4 and 8 climatic adjusters depending on its overall length.
Use a spray can of WD 40 or CRC to lightly spray the bolts and threaded parts of the adjusting rods on the side you are going to adjust first. Keep a cloth or rag handy to wipe off any excess before moving on to the next rod.
If you look underneath the table, you will see several sets of brackets bolted to the bottom of the table. Each pair is connected by a threaded rod with a bolt on either side of the bracket locking the end of the rod to the bracket.
Concave or Convex
For a concave table, that is if the dip in the middle of the table is too severe, the distance between the climatic adjusters needs to be decreased in order to make the table more level. Loosen the two bolts in between the climatic adjusters, then slowly turn the outer bolts in a clockwise motion. Usually, this will take about one turn for each nut. Wait a few days for the adjustments to take effect before checking the board again and repeat the adjustment process if necessary.
For a convex table, that is curving too far outwards the process is similar, but the instructions are the opposite. Loosen the two bolts on the outside of the adjusters, then slowly tighten the inner bolts, pushing the climate adjusters farther apart. As with the concave, make sure to adjust very slowly, using only one turn per bolt and give the table a couple of days to settle before checking or making further adjustments.
Shuffleboard tables are made of hardwood, which does not like to bend. If you try to force it, you will break it. For this reason, it is very important you do not turn the bolt more than a turn and a half within a 24-hour period. Otherwise the wood of the table may split.
Testing your Board
After waiting at 24 to 48 hours for the adjustments to show, you can test the new alignment. Test the alignment of your table by shooting some weights along the sides of the playing field. This should give you a clear indication of whether the weights are drifting towards the middle of the board or if they are drifting off to the sides into the gutters.
Once your table is properly adjusted you should only need to make small adjustments about once a month. Less adjustments will be needed if you properly protect your shuffleboard.
Protecting the Board
Cleaning the board regularly with special shuffleboard cleaner polish or a blend of water and vinegar will help keep the table from scratches and dings. Apply shuffleboard wax before each game to protect the surface of your table from friction caused by the weights. Make sure to apply a silicone spray and buff before each game.
Shuffleboard tables should generally be kept away from windows because of the inconsistencies associated with sunlight exposure and changes in temperature. The sun will dry the silicone spray applied to the playfield and will flatten or even bend some boards during the day causing it to play differently at night which can be very frustrating.
If you can avoid locating your shuffleboard near windows or direct sunlight it will maintain its shape better and require less frequent adjustments.
If you follow these instructions, you will be able to maintain, level and climactically adjust your own shuffleboard table to suit your own playing preference. This will ensure many years of thrilling gameplay to share with your friends and family.