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Re: Dowsing iron temperature

Postby HappyCamper

The_Abbott wrote:Is this a golf question?

The dowsing iron is what they use to iron the snooker table cloth to keep it in good condition.

I think 6 or 7 is normally used. Though the best would be to check with the manufacturer or instruction manual for your particular model.

Re: Dowsing iron temperature

Postby acesinc

I am no tailor, but I do know how to use Google. For any who do not realize, the Green Baize is a woolen cloth. And according to the infallible Wikipedia, wool should be ironed at a temperature of 148 degrees Celsius. (That is 300 degrees Fahrenheit for us couple Americans here.)

I don't have a proper dowsing iron myself. I use my wife's old clothes iron. It has a rotary switch on it that says things like "cotton" and "nylon" and "wool". So I stuck the switch on "wool" and glued it down tight in order to keep foolish fingers from fiddling with it. Works great.

None of that is very scientific either (unless you count the temperature conversion as "scientific"). In the same Vane, I was also given a rule of thumb many years ago which is somewhat more tidy than Player's useful but arguably unhygienic "non-bubbling spit" technique. That would involve laying the iron on a newspaper and letting it set still for a count of five seconds. When you remove the iron, the newspaper must remain unscorched . If the newspaper browned a bit, the setting is too high and you may potentially burn your precious Baize.

Re: Dowsing iron temperature

Postby rekoons

What's the purpose of ironing the cloth? Brushing the cloth is to direct all the little hairs / nap in the same direction, does ironing helps to fixate this a bit longer or so?

Re: Dowsing iron temperature

Postby rekoons

Badsnookerplayer wrote:Aces has saved the day.

The purpose of brushing is to remove the dust and detritus. It does smooth the nap but not much.

Ironing sets the nap down perfectly.


Re: Dowsing iron temperature

Postby acesinc

rekoons wrote:What's the purpose of ironing the cloth? Brushing the cloth is to direct all the little hairs / nap in the same direction, does ironing helps to fixate this a bit longer or so?

I will get to my answer to this eventually, but as is usually the case, you will need to weave your way through all of my drivel first.

Of course BadSnookerPlayer is correct that ironing will set the nap. Just like removing wrinkles from a shirt, ironing will flatten the nap as much as possible to smooth the surface so that it runs as quickly as possible. Shaggy nap will very much slow the roll of the balls. So regular brushing, blocking, and ironing is an effort to maintain the cloth in a "like new" condition throughout its life.

For me in my small place, single table, approximately 15 to 25 hours use per week, this means BRUSHING every session, even if it is only 30 minutes. Most people think of the brushing as if you are "sweeping" the table, like with a broom. I see it differently. I have a very old horsehair brush that the bristles are worn short and everyone tells me to get a new one. I have tried several new brushes and they have all been awful. With my horsehair brush, it acts like a hoover.....static electricity makes the dust cling to the bristles. I brush down just half of the table. If I flick my finger through the brush, a literal dust cloud comes out of it. With the new brushes I have tried (I even have one from Peradon that is supposed to be the benchmark), my "dust cloud test" shows NOTHING. So after brushing half the table, I take the brush to the actual hoover hose and clean it out. Then do the second half of the table and hoover the brush again. Here is the kicker that proves the static cling of the bristles........after I hoover the brush, a "finger flick" gives no dust cloud at all; it was all sucked into the hoover, right? The next day or several days later, after my next session, BEFORE I brush the table, if I flick my finger through the brush again, I get ANOTHER (albeit smaller) dust cloud. This demonstrates that static cling in the bristles attracts the dust to the point that even the hoover cannot remove all dust from the "magnetic" pull of the horsehair bristles. Only time dissipates that attraction. So before I even brush the FIRST half of the table, I give the brush a hoover first. So I hoover out the bristles before, during, and after.

I use the Peradon brush with its long bristles to clear any debris from under the cushions and also lightly brush the cushions with it. (The short-bristled horsehair is so stiff, it would gradually wear through the cloth wrapped around the cushions.) The Peradon brush never releases the finger-flick dust cloud.

As a side note to the above answer to an unasked question.....I personally believe this same effect is a major cause of kicks. Chalk dust (which we all know, increases friction between the balls) is constantly embedded in the cloth. Anyone who has peeled back an old cloth knows how much you will find under there. Plastics (like the sort used to make snooker balls) tend to generate static electricity via friction (such as the friction developed when a snooker ball is sliding across a wool surface). From above, you now know that static electricity greatly attracts chalk dust, even to the point of drawing it up out of the cloth. The upshot of all of these facts is that snooker balls (and most especially, the cue ball) are chalk dust magnets, lifting dust out of the cloth constantly. I think most people get the impression that when we hear talk about kicks being caused by chalk dust, most are thinking that means an unlucky coincidence that the contact point with the object ball must have just perfectly lined up with the little spot of chalk left by a cue tip. No, far more likely, the cue ball is constantly drawing up tiny little particles of chalk all over its surface as it travels simply through static electricity attraction.

Along the same lines, you have probably even seen sometimes the players get a static electricity shock from the table surface. Graham Dott seems to be prone to this; something about his body chemistry makes him susceptible I guess.

Finally, moving onto BLOCKING (and I won't be near so long with this one). While brushing removes the dust, blocking is sort of "combing" the nap in parallel lines, Baulk to Black. I use an old piece of cloth wrapped around a wood block, lay it down at the Baulk cushion, then press down HARD and run it in a continuous straight line all the way to the Black cushion without lifting. This is sort of a mini version of ironing without the heat. The fibers of the old cloth of the block act to comb the nap of the table straight and parallel. I also do this every single session immediately following the brushing.

And finally IRONING. I generally iron about once a week, maybe every two weeks when usage is light. Proper clubs with high usage should be ironing every table every day hopefully. As Player said, this will set the nap flat, but there is another unseen effect, especially in the warmer months of the years. When the weather is humid, the cloth will absorb moisture from the air. Think of a dry sponge versus a wet sponge. The humidity in the cloth will make it more sluggish and the balls will roll slower and less true. The heat of the iron removes humidity from the cloth so that it will run faster. In fact, the heat will also tend to "shrink" the wool (think of the old sit-com joke of the stupid husband putting his wool sweater in the clothes dryer and it comes out sized to fit the toddler) so that the cloth will pull tighter against its fastenings (usually staples or tacks). The tighter the cloth is, the faster it will run. In fact, most people probably know that the modern professional snooker tables have heated slates (sometimes you can even see the little digital thermostat control on the telly screen) and this serves the same purpose, that is, to keep the humidity out of the cloth so the balls run as fast as possible. Another unfortunate side effect of the heated slates is that they are a contributing factor to kicks. You see, the drier the air, the greater the problem with static electricity (because humidity in the air acts as something of an unseen lubricant between surfaces, less friction to generate static electricity) and the purpose of heated slates is to remove humidity, hence, dryness and static electricity. So ironing is a very temporary version of heated slates. Of course, immediately after ironing, the cloth will again begin absorbing moisture from the air if there is any, while the heated slates act to continuously evaporate humidity out of the cloth. Anyone who plays the game rather than just watching pros on TV might well wonder why we see so many kicks in the professional game as opposed to just the occasional kick that we see as amateurs playing at our local club. If you can clear away all the gobbledygook above, you may well find your answer.

Sorry for the continued ramblings. I can never seem to answer with a simple "yes" or "no"...

Re: Dowsing iron temperature

Postby rekoons

How long does your cloth usually last? And would you say it is easy to replace yourself if you're somewhat handy?

Re: Dowsing iron temperature

Postby eraserhead

rekoons wrote:How long does your cloth usually last? And would you say it is easy to replace yourself if you're somewhat handy?

I've seen the cloths being changed at where i play and I would say you need a proper understanding of how a table is put together. When I've seen it, it's a joint effort not sure you could do it on your own. I play in a village hall though, so it probably doesn't get as much use as a proper snooker club.

Re: Dowsing iron temperature

Postby acesinc

rekoons wrote:How long does your cloth usually last? ...

In my situation, small, private club, light usage, the cloth has a good life of about 3 years. More important than chronological time is actual hours of play of which I see probably an average of 20 hours a week or so. Do the maths and that comes out to about a thousand hours a year. Ironically, it is probably the maintenance activity of brushing and blocking that puts more wear and tear on a cloth than gameplay (unless one insists on playing poorly struck masse or other such potentially damaging strokes). My table probably gets more maintenance than average.

To summarize that, if you "just" play snooker on your table and never brush and block, your cloth will last longer, but at the cost of having a lower quality of play due to the "rough" cloth. If you groom the cloth frequently with brushing and blocking, the cloth will wear out faster but you will enjoy your gameplay in the most pristine possible conditions.

rekoons wrote:...And would you say it is easy to replace yourself if you're somewhat handy?

Very few worthwhile things in life are easy. :-)

eraserhead wrote:I've seen the cloths being changed at where i play and I would say you need a proper understanding of how a table is put together. When I've seen it, it's a joint effort not sure you could do it on your own. I play in a village hall though, so it probably doesn't get as much use as a proper snooker club.

Of course, I did not buy my table until I got back home to the USA so I had no cause to meet any table mechanics while I lived in the UK. I do know the job quite well as I have gone through the re-cloth process 6 or 7 times now in four locations. My first guy was a Canadian, exemplary table mechanic and human being, sadly passed away too young in his early 60's. My current guy is extremely talented and began learning the craft thirty years ago as a teenager working with his father. Both of my guys could easily re-cloth alone though an assistant is recommended for moving as each of the five slates weigh in the area of 385 pounds (that's 175 kg for you metric-heads).

So about Rekoons question regarding doing the job "yourself if you're somewhat handy", the answer is yes, of course. But chances are that you are not going to be very good at it for quite some time and you will almost certainly ruin a good baize or two while you are learning. Stretching the cloth on the slates is fairly straightforward but you can quite easily bung that up when fitting the cloth around the pocket openings. Covering the cushions takes the hands of an artist to do the job well. Last time my guy worked my table six months ago, he had trouble with one particular cushion, stapled it and pulled the staples three times before he was finally satisfied with it, about 30 minutes on that one cushion. The trouble is in how the cloth stretches and folds as it wraps around the jaws of the pockets. Inexperienced hands make the cloth bunch up and wrinkle, probably functional but not pretty. A proper mechanic fits this flawlessly so it appears to be the work of art that it is.

In my case, I am a pretty handy guy so I do a lot of the preliminary work before my mechanic even walks in the door. When I have moved, I would get the furniture (underlying woodwork) assembled in place and leveled. I also placed the slates and made them reasonably (but not perfectly) level. I have an advantage over the common man for this....for work, I own a forklift which makes it pretty easy to move around 400 pound slabs of stone. For a simple re-cloth, I take care of stripping down the rails, hardware, removing the old cloth, the main time consumer being pulling out the thousands of staples tacking the cloth in place on the bed and cushions. I clean it all up and lay everything out to make the job as easy and quick as possible for the mechanic. I can also help him with re-assembly, screwing all the hardware in place. I have also made myself specialty tooling to make it easy to lay out the spots, "D", and Baulk line.

I have owned my table for thirty years now and have continued learn as I go along. If I MUST do my own set up/re-cloth one day, I am sure I could. But I am extremely happy to pay my guy for his talent and expertise. Look at it this way....I buy a quality cloth, Strachan 6811 Tournament at $600. For my mechanic, his usual time has been 3 or 4 hours on site for which he asks a mere $250 or $300. He appreciates how easy and smooth the job goes for him every time because of the significant hours I devote to preparation and assistance. I always give him a bit extra "for his troubles" as he lives about 120 km away. As you can imagine, we have very few table mechanics here who are qualified to work a proper snooker table. (We have a lot of pool table mechanics, quite different.) My guy is surely one of if not the best in the country. To pay him a meager half the amount of the cost of the cloth is well worth the price.

If you do wish to do the job yourself, I would have to assume it is out of necessity because you do not have a table mechanic available to you. So if you must do the job yourself, my advice would be to buy the cheapest cloth that you can possibly find even though it is obviously not the best quality. Good chance you may damage the cloth in the process and even if you do successfully install, the finished job may well be several levels below perfection. So enjoy it while you can and each time you do the job, your skill will improve.