Snooker cues

You often see players rolling a cue on the surface of the Snooker Table in order to test it for straightness. Most cues have slight variations somewhere along the length of the shaft – they are not perfectly elongated tapered shafts, and so, even, a very good cue will sometimes “lift” slightly when rolled on a table.

If you want to examine a Snooker Cue for straightness, you should do so by closing one eye and then sighting down the length of the cue – rather like sighting a rifle, and then turn the cue slowly in your hand. You will then be able to see any unevenness in the length of the cue. Note, however, that many very good players in fact use cues which are quite badly warped.

What size of room should I have?

The sizes listed in the following table are the absolute minimum CLEAR space required to allow for cueing around the table. Recommended cue lengths are also shown. Any furniture, buttresses and door openings must be outside this clear space.

Size of snooker table (bed measurements) Recommended length of cue Minimum room size (without other furniture)
6ft x 3ft (183cm x 91.5cm) 4ft (122cm) 14ft x 11ft (427cm x 335cm)
7ft x 3ft 6in (214cm x 107cm) 4ft (122cm) 15ft x 11ft 6″ (457cm x 350cm)
8ft x 4ft 1.5in (244cm x 126cm) 4ft 6in (137cm) 17ft x 13ft (518cm x 396cm)
9ft x 4ft 7.5in (274cm x 141cm) 4ft 6in (137cm) 18ft x 13ft 6in (549cm x 412cm)
10ft x 5ft 1.5in (305cm x 156cm) 4ft 10in (147cm) 20ft x 15ft (610cm x 457cm)
12ft x 6ft 1.5in (366cm x 187cm) 4ft 10in (147cm) 22ft x 16ft (670cm x 488cm)

You can also download our Room Size Guide PDF.

Installing a Snooker Table in a room without solid floors

In most houses with standard suspended floor construction, i.e. the floor is carried on joists, no additional strengthening should be required. Because of the weight of the table, this may ‘settle’ for a period after installation and may require relevelling. If you are still concerned, we would be happy to discuss the situation with your architect.

Size of Snooker balls

The only standard ball size is 2 1/16 inch (52.5mm) which is suitable for a full size table. For any other table it is necessary to check the size of an existing ball or alternatively the measurement from the bed of the table to the top of the cushion rubber, this information will enable us to confirm the correct size of ball required (or send it in to be accurately measured). We stock ball sizes from 1 3/8″ dia upwards.

Snooker Cloths

In order to obtain the best playing conditions and life expectancy from your snooker cloth it is important that the cloth is regulary serviced “in house”. In a club situation where the table is in play everyday we recommend that the cloth is brushed and ironed at least twice per week, normally on the day or just prior to Matchplay. This will ensure the table run to its maximum speed. In a private house situation this service can be completed less frequently.

The cloth should always be brushed and ironed in the direction of the nap, from the baulk end to the black spot. We also strongly recommend the use of a dustcover when not in use, this helps keep the table clean and prolongs its life.

History of antique tables

We do have some information on tables made by Thurston and E.A.Clare & Son Ltd but not on any other table makers. Sadly, some of the Thurston table records were destroyed when the Thurston Leicester Square premises suffered bomb damage in 1940, so the records we have are incomplete. As any searches we undertake are carried out by a senior member of staff we normally make a charge of £90.00, this fee goes towards the upkeep of the Heritage collection. Unfortunately we cannot guarantee sucessful results on every occasion.

Lawn green bowls

I have a set of Lignum Vitae (wooden) bowls can they be re-stamped ?

World Bowls have tightened up their regulations and it is now unlikely that Lignum bowls will conform to those regulations. However Lignum bowls can still be renovated and used in social games despite not being stamped.

The date stamp on my bowls has expired, do I really need them to be re-tested?

The World Bowls ‘stamp’ and its predecessor World Bowls Board ‘stamp’ have a ten year life, which includes the year of the test.

So basically by their regulations the answer is yes they should be re-tested. The main reason for doing the re-test is that part of the testing process checks that the set (4 bowls) are still running as a set. After all given ten years of wear and tear the bowls will have suffered abrasion and knocks. So it is in your interest to have them checked out.

My bowls don't have emblems, are they legal?

This question basically only relates to sets sold in the UK prior to 1996 when emblems were not required in the UK.

Even now it depends on the level you are playing at. This needs to be considered and advised to the tester when you submit your bowls for test.

From 2009 the World Bowls Ltd. testers licence states ‘ Bowls may display – Engravings (emblems), however, the manufacturers licence requires all sets to have engraving (emblems), so all new sets of bowls will automatically be produced with emblems.

For club and even inter club competitions, bowls without emblems are ok. If however the competition is under the auspices of World Bowls Ltd. or the Professional Bowlers Association then you will find that sets of bowls must have emblems. So to be safe it is probably best to have emblems/engraving.

THURSTON can engrave emblems on to most makes of bowl and would suggest that this work is carried out at the same time as the set is tested.

I’ve decided to have engraving on my bowls, can I have my initials and an emblem?

Yes, but with reservation. As long as the initials are all on the same side eg. on the bias side and the emblem on the non bias side. Then the sets will conform to World Bowls Ltd regulations and will be acceptable in the UK. Most other counties require that the emblem should be the same, but proportional in size, on the bias and flat side of the bowls.

THURSTON recommend that the emblems/engraving be the same on both sides which avoids any possible future problems.

I play outdoors what weight of bowl should I use?

If you only play outdoors and play in the U.K., then a medium weight bowl is probably the best. The reason being that most U.K. outdoor greens are slow / heavy and a medium weight bowl will have some chance to show its bias. If you were to use an Indoor style and or heavyweight model the slow / heavy greens will kill the bias before it has a chance to take effect.

I play both Indoor and Outdoor do I really need to different sets of bowls ?

The previous answer has some bearing on this one. However there are some models of bowl (eg Professional by Drakes Pride) that have medium bias and many bowlers find they perform both on outdoor and indoor greens. Most manufacturers do however produce models suited to either outdoor or indoor use.

If outdoor model bowls are used indoor they will tend to run into the next rink and so you might not be able to play certain hands. If indoor models are used outdoor they will show little or no bias and reduce the game to playing up the middle of the rink. Perhaps this is what causes complaints about bias strength ?

What size of bowls should I use?

The ‘old’ idea was to use the largest size you possibly could, or if you can span the circumference of the running sole with your two hands then that size would be right.

However the simple answer is whatever size feels comfortable in the hand. So when selecting a set of bowls try a few sets. Perhaps start with a size 3 and try a few ‘pretend’ deliveries. Does it cause any strain to your wrist? Does it feel that you need to adjust /tighten you grip in the back swing? Does it out fall out of your hand!?

If it all feels ok then perhaps try a size 4 or even larger, but if there is discomfort try smaller sizes until you are comfortable.

Also there are some models’ which are not as broad, such as the Drakes Pride Professional model. Such models might allow you to use a bigger bowl comfortably, so also try a few different models of bowl in a size if you can before making a purchase.

I have two sets of the same make and model of bowl one set is red the other is green. I am told they are the same bias but I find they take a different line – whose is right?

Speak to any of the top bowlers and they will agree that different coloured sets perform differently and yet when seen on the bowls test table they run the same.

The only answer that seems to have any merit is that subtle but significant differences in how each player grips the bowl effects how they deliver.

My set of size 4 heavy bowls weigh more than my friends set, why is there a difference?

We assume that the sets are different models or are from different manufactures. As each manufacturer uses the specific gravity of moulding powder that they favour for their bowls. So there are likely to be weight differences between different manufactures sets.

Also there is likely to be differences between models as there are some that are slim line, so slightly less material, and some which ‘fill the hand’, which will have a little more material. So between different models from the same manufacturer there will be different weights, even if both are marked up as ‘heavy’. The weight chart shown below should therefore be used as a rough guide only.

It looks like the grips have been painted on their bowls, surely this effects the bais and is it allowed?

Law 8.6 deals with alterations to bias of bowls which is illegal and has sever penalties. However point 4 states “Players or owners who colour the groove rings or dimples on a bowl for decoration are not breaking the law”.

This size/weight table is an approximate guide to weights and sizes of lawn bowls, each manufacturer and each model will be somewhat different. These figures are only for guidance and are an average across a range of models & makes.

Size Dia Medium weight Heavy Weight Extra Heavy
00 116mm 1.19kg 1.25kg 1.27kg
0 118mm 1.22kg 1.28kg 1.30kg
01 119.5mm 1.28kg 1.33 1.36kg
1 121mm 1.30kg 1.35kg 1.40kg
2 122.5mm 1.35kg 1.40kg 1.44kg
3 124mm 1.40kg 1.46kg 1.50kg
4 125.5mm 1.46kg 1.52kg 1.55kg
5 127mm 1.52kg 1.58kg n/a
6 128.5mm 1.58kg n/a n/a
7 130mm 1.58kg n/a n/a

Crown green bowls

Are wooden bowls still used?

Wooden bowls, which are made from the timber Lignum Vitae, are still used and are very popular. It is now difficult to obtain good quality Lignum to make new bowls but Thurston do still have a small stock of timber from which to make their Standfast Crown Green bowls (see B2200). Thurston’s renovate many pairs of wooden bowls mainly during the closed season ( see section 1 for renovation services) and are recognised by many as the leaders in the field.

Can I have my wooden bowls polished natural.

Yes, any wooden bowls can be polished natural. It should however be remembered that all Lignum Vitae (wooden) bowls have cracks and the clear, specially formulated lacquer applied shows up all the imperfections, so if the Lignum is poor or contains sapwood it is sometimes more sensible to have the bowls polished Black.

What size of bowls are available and which are most suited for my use?

Crown green bowls have always been sold by weight as the size designation. The popular weights being 2lb 6oz, 2lb 8oz, 2lb 10oz and 2lb 12oz. It seems that with the Lignum Vitae wooden bowls, the bowlers were more interested in the weight and it was certainly true that in early years the heavier the bowl one could handle was always considered to the best bowl for the job. Modern Crown Green bowls are made from a composite material which requires diamond tools to be used in the manufacturing process. Thurston’s stock a range of bowls from 2lb 4oz to 2lb 12oz in even weight steps, odd weights such as 2lb 9oz, 2lb 11oz, etc can be supplied to order. We have junior bowls available 2lb and 2lb 2oz.

I have heard of Hi-density bowls, what are they?

Material now used for bowls is a phenolic thermoset composition. This can be produced to a specific density, unlike Lignum Vitae bowls where the density depends on the actual original timber.

Manufacturers using the composition material such as Drakes Pride and Taylor have extended their standard composition weight range of crown green bowls to include both hi-density and also low density models.

Can you explain what advantages high density or standard or low density have compared to each other?

This requires quite a long answer and must include a reference again to Lignum Vitae bowls as well. It is said that a Lignum bowl runs on a “yard” further than composition.

What is being implied is that when comparing the run of a wooden bowl against the original, now called standard weight composition, it is true that for a given strength of delivery the composition bowl will stop about a yard shorter than the Lignum (wooden) bowl. The reason is simply that the standard weight composition bowl is slightly heavier for its size than the average wooden bowl.

What manufacturers have achieved is to produce a smaller bowl at a heavier weight, for example a 2lb 6oz Hi density will actually be the size of a 2lb 4oz. Bowlers feel that Hi density model is ideally suited to fast running greens, normally found during a dry spell, as the Hi density bowl tend to pull up quicker than the standard bowl of the same weight.

These bowls are also preferred by bowlers who are struggling to grip a the bowl of their preferred weight. The Hi density enables them to drop a size without losing any weight.

On the other hand, Lo density bowls are basically the exact opposite, ie a 2lb 6oz in Lo density would be the size of a 2lb 8oz standard bowl. As these bowls tend to have the running qualities of the Lignum bowls they are polished to give the feel of a wooden bowl.

The Lo density bowls are sold under the name of Excel. In our Liverpool showroom we have a full range of sample bowls for customers to try the size before they buy.

What size bowl do I need ?

Bearing in mind the answer to the previous question. The simple answer is what feels comfortable in your hand. Remember that you have to be able to hold the bowl even in wet conditions. If the bowl feels right, then it is probably the right size and if it doesn’t feel “right” then this will be in your mind when you are playing your shots.

Do I need a jack?

If you are wanting to practice or just play socially, then the answer is definitely yes. Clubs normally supply standard jacks for match play as you should be unable to distinguish between them.

Thurston offer practice jacks at a reduced price in a range of colours.

What bias should I use?

Some years ago you used to be able to tell what area a bowler came from by the bias they requested, but in more recent years the standard bias of 2 full has proved to be dominant. This is the same bias as the standard jacks which most clubs have. Other biases are available on request such as 2 full strong, 2 ¼ & 2 1/2 which as the terms suggest these are all stronger than the standard 2 full bias.

My friends bowls have no dimple, are they legal?

Most crown green bowlers prefer to have the dimple in the bias side but some keen bowlers who do not want their opponent to see how they have delivered the bowl sometime opt not to have a dimple and occasionally mark the bias side with just a black spot.

My recently polished bowls are showing pin prick marks, is the polish faulty?

Probably not, the usual reason for such marks, which tend to be seen at the start of the season, is due to fertiliser and top dressing applied to bowling greens. Granular fertiliser and top dressing can break through the polish causing blemishes. In most cases top dressing contains 70% sand and this creates an abrasive surface early in the season. Chemical fertilisers can break down the adhesion of the polish on the bowls so it might start to come away. Bowlers should also be wary of sharp objects in the ditch or boards surrounding the green.

Our Clubs Standard Jacks have been officially stamped & tested on 3 occasions, can they be re-tested?

The B.C.G.B.A. rules state that Standard Jacks cannot be stamped on more than four occasions. The first three, in date order to be made on the bias side. So a Standard jack with three date stamps can be re-tested and providing meets the regulations can be re-stamped for the four & final time with the stamp on the non bias side.

Still have a question?

    Why choose us?

    Thurston's philosophy has always been based on customer service. You the customer are Thurston's number one priority.

    Thurston has been the home of Snooker, Bowls & Club Games for over 200 years. We pride ourselves on our history and knowledge.

    Thurston have been maintaining snooker tables since 1799. We are innovators in methods used for table maintenance and servicing.

    Learn more