Wood is a notoriously finicky material when it comes to creating flat planes. Whether it be through moisture or pressure, wood has a tendency to bend and warp, and the flatter and thinner the surface, the worse this will get.
Even more annoyingly, sturdy hardwoods can ironically get the worst of this, as they can be harder to fix and much more expensive to replace than cheaper soft woods.
However, that doesn’t mean there’s no hope if your shuffleboard warps, it just requires a delicate hand. And you have a few options here.
The first option is to do it yourself. This option is the least expensive, but by far the riskiest.
DIY Warp Fixing
There are essentially two types of warp: concave warps (the warped wood forms a dip) and convex warps (the warped wood forms a hump). If your wood is extremely out of whack, it might be concave in one spot and convex in another, forming a “wave” pattern.
The idea here is to loosen or tighten the bolts on the underside of the table to allow the wood to change shape.
If you have a concave warp, the bolts are too loose, and need to be tightened. If you have a convex warp, the bolts need to be loosened. If you have a “wavy” warp, the concave side needs to be tightened, and the convex side loosened. However, this is NOT a quick fix.
You can easily destroy your table by trying to adjust too much, too fast. DO NOT attempt this if you’re not comfortable with the thought of that happening.
The bolts need to be tightened or loosened AT MOST a half turn on each pass, and at most one full turn in a 48 hour period. Once you’ve hit that limit, you need to let the table rest. It will slowly begin to move into the new position your rods have “told” it to move to and settle into that new shape.
Once settled (again, this is a process that takes DAYS, so be patient) you can adjust more as needed. Keep a level on hand and measure frequently until your table is perfectly level.
Things to Consider
When dealing with a concave warp, you want to loosen the INNER nut on your bolt, and then tighten the outer nut. When dealing with a convex warp, you want to do the opposite (loosen outer, tighten inner). The nuts should remain equidistant from each other at all times, you’re just shifting their positions one way or another as a unit.
If you’re having trouble turning your nuts, use some WD-40 or a similar lubricant on them. Do not try to force the nut, as you could unintentionally tighten or loosen the nut too much once it breaks free of whatever is keeping it from moving (be it rust, tension, etc.).
Again, if you try to adjust too much, too fast, you will irreparably crack your table. Avoid doing this at all costs. If the surface is damaged, then it doesn’t matter if you play with winning shuffleboard strategies or have techniques on shuffleboard shooting because the table is no longer fit for use.
If you’re not comfortable with that, you have a few other options.
Buy a New Table Top
How can you play shuffleboard if the table is warped? sometimes a warp is extremely drastic, and nigh unfixable; it would take too long to get it to work, and you could potentially go all the way around the other way, and make it too loose rather than too tight or vice versa.
If you don’t relish the idea of waiting a month or more of constant tuning to fix your table, or you accidentally break it (surprisingly easy to do even if you’re being careful; hardwood under tension is very fragile), you can always just buy a new table top, or new table in general.
This, of course, shouldn’t be your first thought, as buying a new high quality shuffleboard table can be quite expensive, but if you’re left with no other option, it’s better than simply being left with an unusable warped or cracked shuffleboard table.
Call a Professional
If you’re looking for a cost effective version of the above option, this is definitely one to consider. While it won’t be cheap (and it may be hard to find an independent professional in this case), calling someone who knows what they’re doing to take your table and fix the warp is a very good option if you’re worried about destroying your table.
This should honestly be your first choice if your table is still under warranty. While it might take a bit longer, the chance of destroying your table is basically completely obviated here, and that’s a risk you especially don’t want to take if there’s a clause that voids your warranty for “tampering” with it in this way.
No matter which of the above methods you choose you’re paying in some way, unfortunately, whether it be in time, money, or a little of both. The best thing you can possibly do is ensure your table never warps in the first place.
Maintaining a shuffleboard table can be done in a few ways. The first is ensuring the bolts are the proper tightness out of the box; make sure the table is level when you get it, and adjust if need be. This will prevent any small warps from turning into big ones.
Ensuring your shuffleboard table stays free of moisture is also an excellent idea. Wood expands when exposed to moisture, and contracts when it dries out. This especially can lead to “wavy” warps as one side expands while the other contracts due to the changing moisture levels.
Neither completely gets rid of the chance of your table warping, but they help immensely, and ensure it’s going to be a rare occurrence.