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"...