Cue Care is essential for any cue sport player be that Pool, Snooker or Billiards. Your cue becomes an extension of your body during play so you when you find your perfect cue it’s important to look after it and protect your investment of time and money. This post will cover everything you need to know about cue maintenance to help your cue last for a lifetime.
I started playing 8-ball pool with a cue from the rack, then after a few months I received a Brown Riley 3-Piece for Christmas 1996, which I was absolutely over the moon with – along with my other gifts from Santa that year! 😂 The Riley cue came in a 2-compartment leather sleeve. Although machine-made and mass-produced, it played smoothly and I absolutely loved it – also at £49.99 it was a bargain!
As a teen I started attending weekly sessions at one of my local clubs, Breaks (now Players Pool & Snooker Lounge). It wasn’t long before I observed that many of the best players were mostly playing with Handmade cues, notably John Parris’ and Tony Wilshaw’s. I saved up my pocket money of £5 each week for a whole year to gain entry to the ‘handmade cue club’.
By the end of this year I had joined Breaks’ Pool team and captained one of their Snooker teams. All I needed now was the cue. I chose to go with my local cue craftsman Tony Wilshaw. I ordered my 3/4 ash, 3-piece plus telescopic extension for £180 plus, £60 for my aluminium Cuecraft ‘Match’ case. I’d achieved lots of accolades in my first year of joining the club. It was turning up with my handmade T.W cue that really made me feel like I had arrived! 🎱
It took me a few sessions to become fully comfortable playing with my new cue but within a week or two it felt natural and like an extension of my arm. It played like a dream and I never looked back.
As mentioned above; Starting out with a new cue can be tricky and can often feel awkward initially. Throughout years of playing with a particular cue, you get used to it’s weight, become accustomed to the feel of it as well as how it plays. Persistence is key, so stick with it (excuse the pun). This sometimes difficult transition is yet another reason for implementing a good cue care routine.
Last week I went to take that very same cue (19 years on) to Tony for a new tip. It’s easy enough to fit your own tip but I have seen some tip disasters on other player’s cues. As a result, an expert will always get my vote to get the job done properly. Whilst Tony was fitting my new tip I took the opportunity to ask him for some maintenance tips to share with you on how to look after your cue. Here is a rundown of our most important, Top 6 Cue Care Tips every player needs to know.
How to Look After Your Cue:
- Choose a local cue-maker to fit your tip. If you can’t find a local craftsmen find someone at your local club that you can trust, is experienced and fits them often. You will find many people that can fit tips but this doesn’t always mean they’ll do a good job. Make sure you choose someone that does it regularly – I’ve known tips to come off mid-frame after such experiences. If you’re struggling with your search turn to Google for assistance.
- When not in use, Always Store and transport your cue in a sturdy case that has firm support inside to keep your cue in place if the case is dropped or knocked over. My aluminium case is old school and has plenty of cosmetic marks on the outside where it has been knocked over. Accidents happen but the foam interior of my case has always kept my cue in position regardless of what life has thrown at it.
- On the topic of storage. It’s important to store your cue at room temperature where possible. Don’t leave your cue outside in a garage, OR inside a warm room near a radiator. The heating up of wood can cause thermal expansion and can can cause warping, swelling or even shrinkage. I left my cue in the car overnight a few years ago during the winter and had to peel the shaft away from the foam in my case when I next used it – luckily no lasting damage this time, but not very pleasant. The Hallway is a great room choice to to store your cue to keep it in tip-top condition.
- Never keep Chalk in your cue case. Many people think that it’s the striking of the cue ball that wears the cue tip down. It’s actually the abrasive chalking of the cue which shapes and causes the most wear your tip. Chalk debris is one of the foreign bodies that can get onto the brass joints of your cue and stop it from fitting together perfectly. If your cue sounds off when playing shots, perhaps a little tinny, try wiping your joints with a clean (lint-free) cotton cloth to remove any unwanted particles. You could also cover your cue tip when you put your cue away for further chalk reduction.
- Use a Break Cue. The amount of force generated in the break-off means that the cue will be under so much pressure that it may momentarily bend slightly each time you subject it to a full-force break-off shot. For this reason, you don’t have to break the bank but just use a different cue to break with. This will prolong the life of your playing cue.
- This last one is Tony’s pet hate. Never, I repeat NEVER sand your cue! Sanding your cue has to be the ultimate cue care faux pas. Many people use wire wool or sandpaper on their cues. This will both reduce the thickness and substance of your cue, making the timber weaker. It also removes any varnish or wax that is on your cue to protect it and make it play nice and smoothly. If your cue doesn’t feel smooth it’s likely just dirty. Dried sweat, dead skin and anything else you can think of will build up on your cue over time. To keep your cue in the best playable condition I recommend first wiping it thoroughly by using a piece of plain paper. Then apply a smooth finishing wax such as Lynch’s Cue Balm. Not only does this leave your cue playing like new, it smells great too!
If your cue still isn’t playing as you wish, seek out an expert – instead of tooling up at B&Q. .
The Science Part: Why should I store my cue at room temperature?
Despite appearing to be a solid material, timber is actually made up of atoms. Once these atoms are subjected to energy, such as heat 🔥 – the movement speed of these atoms increases and then expands. A more well-known example of this process is that of water: When an ice cube is heated , the atoms separate until the configuration of the components changes substantially enough for the solid ice to start melting into a liquid. 💧
As well as thermal expansion – a timber’s form can be affected by cold environments. The natural amount of moisture in the wood will increase and expand once subjected to a warmer temperature. This can cause to shrinkage. Therefore, when you expose your timber cue to cold temperatures, the damage isn’t instant. Instead, the damage occurs when you then move the cue into to a warmer environment later on.
So, when you’re late home from the match and think you’ll just leave your cue in the car overnight ready for the next match – THINK CUE CARE!
How Much Does a Good Quality Handmade Cue Cost?
Just as a guide. My handmade cue purchase of £180 was in back in 1999 and such a cue would currently cost around £350. Even more reason to use the good practices in this blog to look after it.
Finally, I wouldn’t recommend you buy a top of the range handmade cue for your children as their first stick. Allow them to get used to a standard Argos (other stores available) cue first and see if they are still interested in still pursuing the game after a few months.
Remember that must-have toy the kids really wanted last Christmas? It was SOLD OUT everywhere! So to avoid floods of tears and disappointment, you ended up having to pay double for it online. Then on Christmas Day they played with it for a whole hour before never picking it up again… THAT! 😂
To finish let’s do a quick recap.
Top 6 Tips to ensure the Best Cue Care Practices are:
- Get your cue re-tipped by an expert.
- Store and carry your cue in a suitable case, that holds the cue in place.
- Store your cue at room temperature.
- Don’t keep chalk in your case.
- Use a Break Cue.
- Don’t sand your cue.
All of the tips in this post will help you protect and look after your cue. A well-made and, cared-for cue will last for decades.
I hope this helps you Raise Your Game,
THE POOL COACH 🎱