Questions and Answers on Pool Cues and Billiards

How to replace pool cue tip

You can replace the existing pool cue tip with a new one in four simple steps. In the first step, you remove the old tip. In the second step, you prepare the ferrule surface for the new one. In the third step, you install the new tip after sanding its bottom surface. In the fourth step, you customize its shape and hardness factors using the tip tool.

Step 1 – Old Pool Cue Tip Removal

The tip may have the support of a tip holder made of plastic aluminum.  You need to remove that before taking out the tip. You can use the pliers to take it out. Make sure you don’t cause any damages to the sides of the ferrule top while removing it.

  • Leather Tip: You can use a sharp blade or pliers to cut/pull out the existing leather tip from the metal cap at the end of the ferrule.
  • Phenolic Tip: You can use the pliers to remove the Phenolic pool cue tip easily from the top of the ferrule.

Step 2 – Prepare the Ferrule Surface

  • Remnant Removal: The old leather tip may have left some remnants at the top. You can use the leather burnishing pad to take out the remnants completely. It will also eliminate the glue, dirt and other contaminant deposits at the top.
  • Surface Sanding: Use the 80 grit sandpaper to sand the ferrule top that holds the tip. The surface should become even after you have completed the sanding.
  • Surface Cleaning: Apply three to four drops of vinegar or nail polish remover on the top and rub with a clean tissue paper. Allow the liquid to dry out.  Now, the top is ready for the new cue tip.

Step 3 – New Pool Cue Tip Installation

  • Bottom Sanding: Take the new pool cue tip and place it on the 80 grip sandpaper with the bottom down. Rub it gently until the surface evens out.
  • Gluing: The glue you choose should have fast drying and impact resistance property. It should allow the two pieces (the tip and the ferrule top) to align accurately (assuming it takes about four to six seconds to align). The average drying time for good quality glue is 15-18 seconds. Apply the glue to the pool cue tip bottom and the ferrule top and align the two. Make sure the glue doesn’t spill over to the sides.
  • Cue Cleaning: Once the glue becomes dry and the bonding between the ferrule top and cue tip is tight, you can use a soft tissue paper to clean the tip and the ferrule. You can use the nail polish remover to clean up any residual glue and dirt.

Step 4- New Cue Tip Shaping

  • Sanding: You can use the 80 grit sandpaper to rub the top and the side of the new tip until it attains the shape and hardness you need.
  • Shaping: Alternately, you can use the tip shaper tool. The U-shaped tool can perform multiple functions of sanding, shaping (dime and nickel) and trimming. The dime gives optimum shape to the tip with medium hardness value. The contact surface between the tip and the cue ball will be optimum for accuracy and speed. On the other hand, the nickel radius cue tip is useful for generating more side-spin. The curvature of the ball movement will remain the same for both the types.
  • Hardening: The shaper tool can also help harden the tip according to your specific requirements. The recommended hardness level is medium.

How Pool Cues are made

Pool cues are made of pure wood, graphite, fiberglass, or the combination of the three materials. The initial manufacturing process may happen on the CNC machines for the pattern/inlay cutting, axial substitution, inlay designing, pool cue construction and surface finishing. The 4th-axis method is stated to be the most advanced technology in the making of professional pool cues. Currently, the pool cues are made into one-piece, two-piece, and three-piece designs.

One-Piece Pool Cues

One-piece pool cues have no joints, but they may use push-on-extension to keep the size compact for portability.

·         Material:  The wood used for one-piece pool cue could be machine spliced hardwood, Maplewood, ash-wood, ebony, rosewood and other exotic species. High-end pool cues are handmade with ash-wood as the standard raw material.

·         Anatomy:  The diameter of the cue increases from the tip to the butt evenly. The only parts to assemble with the main shaft are the tip, ferrule and the butt. There are no wraps on the pool cue. The fiber ferrule has the properties of shock-proof construction and high energy-transfer ratio from the butt, passing through the shaft onto the tip. The tip is made of high-quality leather for enhanced accuracy, zero deflection, and optimum speed. The butts could be made from ivory, brass or other metal alloys

Two-Piece Pool Cues

  • Materials: The materials that go into the making of the two-piece pool cues are Maplewood, fiberglass or graphite. The joints are made of metals like steel, brass or copper. The ferrule is made of fiber and the cues use nylon wrap with and leather tip. Graphite pool cues are made of polycarbonate ferrule, Veltex–grip wrap and leather tip. The composite pool cues are made from the combination of wood, fiberglass, and graphite with metallic joints and fiber/polycarbonate ferrule.
  • Anatomy: The materials used in the two-piece pool cue are the maple wood and fiberglass. The Phenolic resin is another common material. The leather tip has a diameter of 12mm.The shaft has cone taper which decreases from the joint to the ferrule. The pool cue is split into two detachable parts for easy portability. Mass production of cues depends on the CNC machines and the hand-assembly.

Three-Piece Pool Cues

  • Materials: Some of the materials that go into the making of three-piece pool cue are maple wood, ash wood, hard wood etc, fiberglass, carbon fiber, aluminum, brass and other metal alloys. The cue has pro taper. The joint between the butt and the shaft has ABS material. Most of the 3-piece pool cues have wraps for grip. The design of the cue incorporates weight adjustable system for professional players. The cues have two joints compared to a single joint in the two-piece cues. Multiple coats of varnish on the cue help protect it from warping.
  • Anatomy: The anatomy of a 3-piece has a forearm and a wrap that make up the shaft. The ferrule/collar has ivory, stainless steel, wood, or polycarbonate material. The butt and the inlay sections play a key part in balancing the pool cue weight increasing the stability of the cue. The pool cue joint rings are made of metal alloys, fiber, ivory or wood. They provide stability and enhance the aesthetic appeals of the cue. Mass production of the cues depends on the CNC machines and the hand-assembly procedures.

The Making of Pool Cues Parts

  • CNC Machines: The lathe machines/lathes are used in the making of the tubular body of the cue. Then the internal threads and the bushing are carved out using the specific machines. The formation of connecting parts is the most critical part of the manufacturing process.
  • Axial Alignment: Axial alignment plays a key role in making the pool cues accurate, efficient and effective. The manufacturers pay much attention to the shaft handle and a connector that joins it with the shaft. The processes of machining and milling are used to shape the core diameter of the shaft and the handle. The connectors are made from the male bar and the female cavity with threads.
  • Cue Taper: Taper is the variation in the diameter of the shaft from the joint to the ferrule section. Some of the common types of taper are standard, pro, double and the conical. Standard types are the most commonly recommended types for the beginners, intermediate and advanced learners. The double taper is recommended only for the experienced professionals. The pro taper is recommended for the beginners. The canonical taper is common among the pool cues manufactures in Europe.
  • Cue Ferrule: The main function of the ferrule is to protect the shaft from shocks. The three key points of the ferrule are its material, diameter and the threading. Capping increases the tensile strength and the stability of the ferrule. The design of the ferrule modulates the rate of energy transfer from the shaft onto the tip and the cue ball. Wire threading is the most commonly used method. Non-threaded ferules are connected to the shaft with the help of glues.
  • Cue Joints: The connecting part between the butt and the shaft is the joint. Metal, wood and alloys are commonly used to make the joints. The location of the male pin and the female connector varies in the cues depending on the manufacturers. The factors that make up the efficiency of the joints are fluidity, stiffness, stability and the axial coordination throughout the cue length. Collars and pins are the most commonly used types of joints between the butt and the shaft.
  • Cue Wrap: The cue wraps are made of leather or synthetic materials for providing grip and ease of movement to the pool cue player.
  • Cue Rings: The pool cue rings are for increasing the joint strength and enhancing the stylish appearance. The most commonly used materials are brass, nickel and other alloys. Ivory rings are useful for increasing the aesthetic appeals.
  • Cue Bumper: Bumpers are made from rubber and synthetic materials and metallic Gluing is another method of joining the bumper with the butt sleeve.
  • Cue Butt: The key elements of the butt are the veneer, inlay and the sleeve. The butt provided optimum weight balance to the pool cue. The commonly used materials for the butt are carbon fiber, fiberglass, ivory and metal alloy.
  • Cue Inlay: The pool cue inlay is made of exotic wood, ivory, brass or synthetic materials. The inlay materials provide stability to the assembled parts and hold them together into one piece. They also absorb the shocks from the cue tips.
  • Cue Tip: The cue tip is the core element of the pool cue, which plays a key role in shaping its efficiency factors Most of the pool cue tips are made of leather.
  • Assembly: The assembly of the manufactured parts is done manually at the manufacturing sites.

Are pool cues allowed on airplanes?

The airline authorities don’t allow the pool cues as part of the carry-on baggage, but they do permit them in the form of checked bags. Most of them have listed the inventory items in their security and safety guidelines in conformance to the Transportation Security Administration standards and regulations.

How to choose pool cue

The basic parameters of pool cue selection are related to the properties of the tip, ferrule, shaft, wrap, joints and the inlays. The material, design, construction, dimension and the weight of the cues are the most important contributors to the structure and functionality.

Beginner Pool Cues

The materials pool cues for the beginners are maple wood, Irish linen, leather, rubber and synthetic fiber.

  • Cue Shaft: Maple wood with the pro-taper design is recommended to provide even weight balance. It should have minimum squirt (deflection) effect. It is the angle of deviation taken by the cue-ball after the cue strikes it. It may not be possible to avoid squirt, but the shaft design can reduce its value to the minimum. The playability factor naturally increases with a decrease in squirt. Radial lamination on the shaft can help increase the efficiency and flexibility. The tensile strength of the shaft is evenly distributed along the length and diameter. The shaft gives enhanced control over the cue when you strike the cue-ball.  You may also choose the shafts with the standard taper that has gradually decreasing diameter from the bumper to the ferrule edge. Starting with the wooden shaft is preferred over fiberglass or carbon fiber since it can withstand shocks from accidental fall.
  • Cue Ferrule: The material used for the beginner pool cue ferrule can be high-density hardwood, carbon fiber, polycarbonate or Maplewood. It is better to avoid brass and other metal alloys since they are meant for the advanced users. The ferrule is the connecting medium between the shaft and the tip. The capped design protects it from cracks. The threaded connector is better than gluing for durability and strength. The tenon size should be preferably large for enhanced connectivity with the tip and the cue-ball.
  • Cue Tip: The cue tip plays a key role in shock absorption, ball spin control, impact, consistency, precision, shot variation and the ball jump. Medium hardness is preferred for the beginners as it helps in mastering the ball control and playing shots with minimum deflections. You may opt for carbon fiber, leather or Phenolic materials.
  • Cue Wrap: The Irish linen on the cue wrap can provide the best grip while playing in the initial stages. It is also good in absorbing sweat. You can grip the cue at different positions without losing control at any point. Sliding the cue between your fingers becomes simple and smooth.
  • Cue Bumper: The rubber bumper allows you to have better hold and control over the cue in the beginning. Bumper with screws is easy to replace than the ones which use glue.

Opting for a used pool cue will make your selection economical and technically feasible. Your trainer will be able to help you choose the best-used cues based on their design and construction of the parts described above.

Intermediate Pool Cues

The design of the intermediate level  best pool cues has better functionality compared to the beginner models. For example, the shaft and tip designs allow you to play better follow shots, draw shots and the stop shots. They also allow you to have better control over the hits passing through the central axis of the cue ball. You can vary the stroke speed depending on the distance between the cue-ball and the first object ball.

·         Cue Shaft:  The cue shaft of the intermediate level cue can be Canadian maple, ash wood or the composite material having fiberglass at the exterior and Canadian maple at the core. They provide better accuracy of shot angles and improved control over the cue. The standard taper is better than pro-taper. Avoid the double–taper as it is meant for the expert level shafts. Enhanced cue-ball spin allows you to play from varied angles and get the desired results accurately. You can control the final position of the play ball which prepares the ground for the next shot.

·         Cue Ferrule: The material for the intermediate cue ferrule can be carbon fiber, wood or fiberglass. Titan and PVC are the suggested materials for lightweight and better flexibility. The threaded connectors provide accurate co-axial alignment with the shaft. The taper of the ferrule should be preferably standard or pro. Opt for a relatively higher tenon to have better connectivity with the cue-ball. Slip-on type of ferrule connects to the shaft and the tip without threads. The ferrule should be resistant to shocks and chalk. Polishing should be smooth, and maintenance should be simple. It should be able to transfer the maximum of energy from the shaft to the tip for all types of pool cue shots you play.

·         Cue Tip: At the intermediate level, it is better for you to choose the leather tip with medium to the higher level of hardness. They will allow better control over the left and right ENGLISH for accuracy in controlling the angle of squirt and spin. Reverse spin and topspin control get better with the optimized hardness levels. Consistency in your shot speed and types makes the medium hardness ideal for intermediate level pool cues. The hardness factor of the tip can be between 66.3 and 79.8. The type of lamination is another factor that determines the hardness.  You may choose the tip shape to be dime or nickel. Dime shape is used to generate extra spin, while the nickel shape gives you better control with more contact space with the cue-ball.

·         Cue Wrap: The pool cue wrap provides grip over the shaft and power on the shot. Rubber wraps are recommended if your hands sweat more. Leather wraps offer good hold.  But they can become sticky with sweat. If you wish to have a good grip on the smooth movement of the shaft between your fingers, it is better to opt for rubber or Irish-linen.

·         Cue-Bumper: The synthetic rubber cue bump with the screw is always the recommended material for beginner and intermediate level pool cues.

At the intermediate level, you can afford to get the new cues made from maple wood, fiberglass, carbon fiber or the composite materials. Two-piece cues are better at this stage as they help in improving your adaptability to the professional level.

Advanced Pool Cues

Advanced pool cues are made for the players who wish to avoid deflection of the cue ball. They increase the accuracy, spin control, taper strength, consistency, vibration and speed control.

  • Cue Shaft: The recommended materials for the advanced cue shaft are maple, carbon fiber and fiberglass. Having a foam core at the top of the shaft can reduce the weight and reducing the deflection levels. It can also increase the performance. Having a carbon fiber at the core helps in enhancing the performance and feedback. It allows you to vary the orientation of your shots and maintain the efficiency of the follow shots and the draw shots. The straight path of the cue ball can be controlled by varying your shot selection, regardless of the distance between the cue-ball and the first object ball. The composite shaft (wooden top with carbon fiber core) can also improve the radial consistency and playing style for higher efficiency. Double taper can improve the accuracy while playing complex shots. The shafts have the threaded connectors at both the ends (with the top section of the cue and the ferrule). However, this type of taper needs highest level of experience on part of the player, since the design may make it more complex for handling the shaft. On the other hand, a standard taper or the conical taper helps in getting better control over the smooth flow of the shaft between your fingers.
  • Pivot Point: The pivot point on the shaft can help in getting better control over the shots. The manufacturers of the advanced cue shafts between 11” and 14” for increasing the acceleration and accuracy. You need to check the ratio between the bridge length of the shaft and the pivotal point to get the maximum efficiency pool ball cue.
  • Cue Ferrule: At the advanced level, you may opt for brass or other metal alloy. It has a screw-based core which attaches to the shaft. It enhances the performance and reduces the deflection angle further. But its weight is relatively more compared to the other materials like carbon fiber, fiberglass and even wood. Ivory gives better hits and feedback to the shaft. You can also opt for JUMA which is becoming an alternative for ivory with most of the properties being the same. You need to opt for capped and threaded tenon, optimum weight and enhanced performance.
  • Cue Tip: The tips for the advanced pool cues are preferably made of higher hardness factors. They can give you better control over your shots. They also improve the playability features. Nickel shaped radius is supposed to provide better spin control and optimum contact point with the cue-ball.  The number of layers on the cowhide leather determines the hardness ratio. Laminated tips with improved performance can increase the efficiency of the pool cue. The cue tip has to be scuffed with an abrasive material having coarse grits. It helps in getting better chalk holding and control over the cue-ball. The other recommended materials for the tip are the carbon fiber and Phenolic. The selection of the tip also depends on the playing and breaking techniques you wish to use in the game. The hardness factor above 83.2 is the most recommended value for the advanced cue tips. Make sure the tips have no chemical compositions, since they can decrease the lifespan considerably.
  • Cue Wrap: The recommended material for the pool cue wrap is the natural leather. It has the characteristic of providing the optimum grip over the shaft, while making it easier to slide it between your fingers.
  • Cue Bumper: The recommended material for the cue bumper is synthetic rubber for enhanced grip and ease of control.
  • Cue Rings: Having the metallic, fiber and JUMA rings at the joints can increase the aesthetic appeals of the pool cue. It can also enhance the joint efficiency and axial alignment of all the connecting points in the pool cue.

What Pool Cues do Pros Use?

The advanced parameters that make a professional pool cue are the shaft design, ferrule construction, tip characteristics and the overall quality. You may choose any model and brand that conforms to the following characteristics.

Shaft Characteristics

  • Front End Mass: Pros use cue shafts that have the lightest front end mass. It gives better control over the energy transfer from the shaft onto the ferrule. The accuracy also increases considerably.
  • Grain Density: Radial lamination of the shaft increases the grain density to the most optimum level. Straight grains are recommended as they help streamline the flow of energy. The conversion ratio of the energy at the tip also increases. Ash shafts, maple shafts, and Purple Heart shafts can have the most efficient grain density and direction.
  • Material Strength: The material strength of the shaft depends on the core material and the radial consistency. Shafts with carbon fiber reinforced core can help in shock absorption. They also provide better top and side-spin to the cue-ball.
  • Shaft Weight: The taper type determines the shaft weight from the bumper to the ferrule end. Standard taper results in evenly distributed weight reduction. It gives better control over the cue.
  • Shaft Shape: The most commonly used shaft shapes are V, W, P, S and R. The V–shaft is slim and light in weight. S-shaft is flexible with high grain density. The W-shaft is recommended for higher stiffness and penetration for the cue-ball. The P-shaft is the most recommended one for the professional cues.

Ferrule Characteristics

Bronze or JUMA-capped ferrules are the most recommend modes for the professional pool cues. The Phenolic ferrule is ideal for jump cues. T-Capped ferrule provides maximum hit speed and energy transfer from the shaft onto the tip.

Tip Characteristics

  • Burnished Side: The pre-burnished side of the cue tip provides better control over the side and top-spin of the cue-ball. It also optimizes the contact space between the tip and the cue-ball.    
  • Tip Size: Oversized tip can result in better energy transfer, spin direction control and better grip over the cue-ball.
  • Tip Diameter: The diameter of 13-mm with nickel style of the radius is the most recommended pool cue tip for the professionals.
  • Tip Hardness: Hardness factor 2 and above is the most recommended value for the professional pool cue.

 Joint Characteristics

The screw types of joints are the best ones for the shaft and ferrule, shaft and the butt, butt and the bumper as well as the inlays. They help in easy replacements and better maintenance.

What weight pool cue is best?

The average pool cue weight from the standard and professional brands is stated to be between 18 and 21 ounces. The 20-ounce is recommended for beginners. The 19.5-ounce is recommended for intermediate level players. Professionals may opt for lighter cues for speed and heavier ones for a better break.

Who makes best pool cues?

Some of the top rated pool cue brands in the market today are the McDermott, Schon, Meucci, Lucasi, Mezz, Players and CUESOUL.

Why pool cue chalk

The increase in the friction coefficient between the tip and the cue-ball can avoid miscued shots due to slipping and help in enhancing the grip over the ball.