Re: "chair rail" shelf for drinks in billard / pool room
1. Any examples of someone else doing this?
I've seen it, but don't have an example to show you.
2. What height should it be at?
42" would be where I'd start. Another option would be to measure from your elbow to the floor, and your wife's elbow to the floor and find a happy medium between the two.
3. If I do build something like this, how do I tie it into the rest of the room in terms of traditional chair rail? The room is basically one large space, though I could break the shelf at entry ways or doorways.
It will depend upon the height you set the "table" at. If you go with 42", that's only 4-1/2" higher than the chair rail that your installing. You could easily be within the same height area with the two, depending on how you build and install the table. For instance, if you make an upside down "L" shape and use corner blocks (triangular support blocks ) for strength, the "skirt" could easily interfere with the chair rail. Even if you use corbels, the corbels themselves will stick down into the chair rail space. This may or may not be an issue, depending on the length of the corbel and the width of the chair rail.
I would recommend building a mock-up of the table so that you can see just how large it's going to be. As earlier stated, a 1x3 is only 2-1/2" wide, a 1x4 is only 3-1/2", neither one is hardly large enough to comfortably rest against nor set a drink, ashtray, snack plate, etc. If it were me I would look at at least a 1x6 which is 5-1/2" wide, maybe even a little more, depends on the room size and how much room you've got around the pool table, which brings me to another problem.
You really need a minimum of 4 feet of clear space all the way around a pool table for ease and comfort of making cushion shots, either that or you need an extra short cue or contort yourself when making these shots. Any obstruction into this space quickly become a huge annoyance. When I built my rec room and wet bar, the bar was always an obstacle because it was right at that 4' perimeter. There were actually several points around the room where the distance was within 4' and as you played around the table, every one of these points was an issue. A good rule of thumb for "clear space" around the pool table is to put one of your cue sticks against the side of the table and it should not be able to touch anything. That sounds like a lot, but when you get to playing it gets cramped real quick.
I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!