Pool Cue Questions
These are some of the most Frequently Asked Questions about pool cues. If you don't see your answer feel free to contact us using the Customer Service tab above.
1: How do I best protect my cue?
The best cue protection is a good case. While a hard case being more of a protection than a softcase, most professionals use soft cases. The shaft is what plays pool, so anything that can be done to protect the shaft is a benefit. If the case will get bumped much, it might be good to get a set of joint protectors that screw onto the joint ends to add that little extra protection. If all else fails, it is a good idea to buy an extra shaft or consider getting a secondary cue.
2: How should I store my cue?
The best place to store your cue would be in its case. This will also ensure that your cue is well protected. Ideally you want to keep your cue in normal (average) temperatures. Keep your cue away from very humid, warm or cold environments. A car would be the worst place to keep your cue. Drastic temperatures changes are very harmful for cues. Remember, they are made of wood!
3: How do I keep my cue clean?
The easiest way to help keep your cue clean is by keeping your hands clean. This may sound strange but it is your hands that are in contact with your cue, especially the shaft. At the same time your cue will never stay as clean as when you bought it. At The Billiard Shop we offer a wide range of cleaning products for your cue, whether wood, fiberglass or graphite cues. All cue care products sold at The Billiard Shop are the exact same products we use here ourselves.
4: What is a jump/break cue?
A jump/break cue is a multi-purpose cue. It is designed primarily for jump shots. Jump/break cues have a second joint added just above the wrap line. Once the bottom piece of the cue is removed it eliminates about 50% of the cue’s weight, thus making it much lighter, therefore easier to jump a ball. The second design purpose of this cue would be a break cue. Some players prefer a different cue for breaking. Reasons for this would be, different weight, harder tip or just not wanting to break with their playing cue. It could also be used as a back-up cue should something happen to your primary cue.
How do I replace a cue tip?
This is a job that anyone can do, but with the development of custom cues, it is not something that you want to do unless you know what you are doing, and you have the equipment you need. This reference is to a drawing we did showing the proper equipment and procedure for preparing (sanding) the shaft and tip prior to gluing, and the proper way to use a glue clamp. There are several glue materials on the market at this point that work well for various tip and ferrule materials. We are forced to use different glues in-house to compensate for the multitude of materials that different cue makers use. The other trick is selecting the right tip, and there are a lot of different tips available now!
5: How do I select a cue tip?
This was once an easy question but is now is difficult to answer. There are soft, medium, and hard tip and then very hard tips. Most custom manufacturers use a hard or very hard tip. Most novice players scratch with a hard tip for a lot of reasons. We would recommend a medium tip for a beginner. The selection of tips is huge now, with new tips coming out every year. Tips are made of everything from buffalo hide to plastic. The best tip for the individual is the one that does what he or she need best, but there are a few trade offs:
Soft tips holds chalk real well however a soft tip dents easily and can mess up the next shot.
Medium tips are a little forgiving about not chalking regularly, and for some people holds a ball well.
Hard tips do not hold chalk well, but they will not dent as most pros elect to use a hard tip. Hard tips can be pressed to reduce mushrooming and denting if desired.
Very Hard Tips are available, but are also more expensive. Hard tips are usually hand crafted from buffalo hide from France. A plastic tip is also available, but we have yet to see a serious player use it yet.
How do I pick the proper sized replacement tip?
This question has several right answers, but a lot depends on what you are doing, and how you are doing it. For the average player who might want to be able to do emergency repairs at home or in the field, you will need to measure the ferrule diameter in millimeters (ranging from 10 mm. to 14mm), and then buy the proper size tip for your cue. For someone doing commercial tip repair, it is normal to buy the largest tip available and then cut it down to size for the cue you are retipping (with a lathe).
6: Why do cues have wraps on them?
Although some cues come without a wrap, most cues are designed with a wrap. The purpose of a wrap is to give the player extra grip on the cue. It also serves to absorb perspiration from the player’s hand. The most commonly used materials for wraps are nylon, leather, cork, and Irish linen being the most popular.
7: Why are there different types of joints?
There are primarily two different categories of joints, piloted and flat-faced, with several designs available.
- A piloted joint is when the shaft insert protrudes further than the joint collar, in turn when the cue is screwed together that nipple would insert into a corresponding cavity in the butt’s joint collar.
- A flat-faced joint wouldn’t have a protruding insert. The insert would finish flush with the joint collar, or there may not even be an insert at all. When the cue is screwed together the two joint faces would meet flush.
Most manufacturers have their own joint design or have a modified version of the above-mentioned joints. Most people tend to agree that a piloted joint emits a “harder” feel to the cue compared to the flat-faced joint. Although some people argue that as long as the joint is tightened properly, the joint design isn’t all that important.
8: Why are there different tip sizes
Most pool cue manufacturers offer tip sizes that vary between 12 and 14mm, with 13mm being the most common. Snooker tips vary in sizes between 9 and 11mm. The reason why snooker tips are smaller is because snooker balls are smaller than pool balls and therefore the tip size is also smaller.
9: Do you need a ferrule on a cue?
The ferrule adds strength to the end of the cue and prevents the shaft from cracking, splintering or chipping.
10: When should I re-tip my cue?
We suggest that when the sidewall of the tip gets to be less than the thickness of a dime it is time to replace the tip. If the tip gets to be too thin it puts too much stress on the ferrule and that is generally when ferrules will crack.
11: When I roll my cue I see light under the shaft. Does this mean it’s warped?
Keep in mind that a cue is made from wood, an organic material. Do not expect your cue to be perfectly straight, especially the shaft. The biggest misconception is that a cue is warped when you are able to see light under the cue or shaft. It is normal that you will be able to see light movement under the cue while it is being rolled. The reason for this is that most all shafts are tapered. As a result, that is why it is normal that you will always be able to see movement in the shaft. It would be impossible for someone to notice that little of a variation in the shaft while stroking the shaft through ones fingers. Who is the best manufacturer?
Someone might have answered this years ago, but an answer to this now would get us burned for sure. We plead the fifth amendment as we look for a deep hole to hide in. The only comment that is safe, is to say that there are now so many differences in quality cues, that there is a tremendous amount of variables for the buyer to consider. Look for the following:
-type of shaft taper and construction
-type of wood
-type of joint
-metal to metal Vs. wood to wood: this makes a big difference in feel, weight, and weight adjustment
-reputation of the manufacturer (Read their reviews)
-where was it made
-who made it
And lastly always ask yourself this does it make you feel good just to pick it up, a lot of a cue is your mental attitude and connection with it.
12: What is a cue made of?
Years ago this might have been an easy question. Today anything goes, including diamonds, woods of all type, plastics, metals, leather, string, etc. The primary wood in this country for the shaft is hard rock maple, but in Europe Ashe is the typical choice, and in the Orient they use Ramin wood. In the future there seems to be a move to plastics, but it will probably take a long time to get accepted by most pros, if ever.
13: What is an Irish Linen Wrap?
Irish linen is a string wrap wound around the butt and in the general area of the butt where the rear hand holds the cue. The name came from the original Irish source for the string. The string used today comes in every color, and color combination imaginable.
14: What is a taper?
According to the 1998 Merriam-Webster Dictionary Home & Office Edition, a “taper” is defined as “to make or become gradually smaller towards one end” (529). There are two types of tapers, the “European taper” and the “pro taper”.
- The European taper, which is also commonly know as a straight taper, simply means the shaft is cone shaped. The diameter gradually and consistently increases from the tip to the joint.
- The pro taper, on the other hand, will remain the same diameter size for some distance before gradually increasing for the remaining distance to the joint.
For what is considered a pro taper, there are small and large pro tapers. A “small taper” is considered to be four to eight inches of cylindrical shape, while a “large taper” is considered to be ten to fifteen inches of cylindrical shape.
Each cue manufacturer is different but most shafts have some type of pro taper, whether it is a small or large pro taper.
The reason for a pro taper is that while stroking the shaft through your fingers, it will generally stay consistent is size.
Most cues, regardless of joint styles or materials, are not built to withstand side pressure that can result from a number of circumstances:
- leaning your cue against the pool table, chair or stool
- leaning your cue against the wall
- dropping your cue on the ground
- laying your cue on the pool table with it’s butt on the rail
- breaking with too much follow through
- moving the balls with your cue
- hitting or slamming your cue against anything in frustration
If you must lean your cue against a wall, do so at the slightest possible angle away from foot traffic. Obtain a cue holder. Lay your cue flat on the bed of the table. (This will also make the oncoming player wait until you are ready).
These suggestions may sound very simple, but they will go a long way to maintaining the life of your cue.
And remember, “no one will take care of your cue like you will.”