Does the thickness or number of pieces of the slate on a pool table matter much?

Whether a slate is one piece vs. three pieces really doesn’t matter much assuming the three pieces are leveled properly, with the seams waxed smooth. A one-piece slate is easier to level, but it is obviously much heavier and more difficult to transport.

A thicker slate is better since it is stiffer and less likely to flex so the table can be more level over its entire surface. A thicker slate also makes it slightly easier to perform jump shots. Otherwise, the slate thickness isn’t really that important practically speaking.

Can jump shots, massé shots, and tapping down on a ball damage the slate?

Table slate is amazingly tough stuff, especially with the cloth covering, which helps distribute and dampen the force some. Jump shots, massé shots, and tapping down (even hard) will not cause damage to the slate, assuming there isn’t a big hole in the cloth at the spot of impact. White “burn marks” might appear on the cloth, which is only a minor form of “damage,” but this doesn’t really affect the cloth very much. A much bigger problem for the cloth is multiple skid marks at a single location, for example from power breaking from the same spot over an over with no “break pad” (a small piece of spare cloth under the CB). This will eventually wear the cloth down to the slate at that point.

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