Pool Cues or Billiard Cues? Call them whatever you want. Both are accepted terms, but at the heart of the matter, they’re just pieces of wood. Right? Sure. Just like the Mona Lisa is no different than the paint-by-number stuff I did as a child. Quality pool cues can be works of art, with custom inlay designs or silk-screened finishes. Want your name on one? Some manufacturers can do that, along with a slew of other special design features. At the joint (where a two-piece cue screws together, not the poolhall down the street) you’ll often find narrow rings. These have been inserted to add a touch of class or a little flash.
Naturally, nice custom cues can get quite pricey, depending on the customization. If you want real gold inlays, you can easily get into the thousands. However, the good news is that really sweet looking, quality cues are available for a fraction of that. Cues that will impress your opponent, even if your gameplay doesn’t.
Making a Great Cue
Let’s start with the shaft. The key is the quality of the wood used. Maple is the predominant choice, but if it has a bad grain pattern, you’ll have a bad cue. It must also be well cured to remove moisture that could cause it to warp. If you are considering a cue, examine it closely to make sure it meets your standards.
Now, realize that any wooden pool cue can and will warp if left lying flat for an extended time. I recommend standing upright when not in use, even if unscrewed at the joint and in a protective case. Why take chances. Lastly, if you frequent pool halls, don’t keep your cue in the car. Extreme heat or cold might damage the wood.
The Butt of the Matter
The grip end is called the butt and may be made of many different exotic woods. This is also the end that can be a work of art. Many manufacturers use silk screening to dress up the butt, and coupled with a quality shaft, they can be attractive. The finishing touch comes from the grip wrap. There are many types of wraps, from leather to Irish linen. Less expensive cues may have none. Choose one that best fits your personal comfort standard, not one that simply looks cool or costs a little less. It’s an important feature and something to consider.
Ferrules are on the end of the shaft where the cue tip attaches. Their purpose is to absorb vibration and provide the player with more feel. In olden times, they were frequently made of ivory. Thankfully, this has changed and synthetics such as Ivorine and Aegis now are common. As for cue tips, you’d think this would be simple, but there are many factors in choosing the right one. Obviously, it needs to be the right diameter to match the end of your weapon. Then you consider the hardness, ranging from soft to hard. Perhaps more significant is the need to keep it properly shaped. Better players shape the tip to a nickel or dime radius. This provides more surface area for chalk which in turn allows for more English on the cue ball.
“I’m Just a Recreational Player”
Good! Join the club. Most people are just that, but it doesn’t mean you can’t equip your game room with nice pool cues. Best of all, you don’t have to spend a fortune. Eastgate Pools has one of the regions nicest selection of two-piece cues. These include the Valhalla line from Viking, Dufferin, Players, and Rage. Eastgate Pools also is proud to carry three different lines from world-famous McDermott. The Lucky and Star Series are extremely affordable. And with the McDermott name on the cue, quality is assured. Eastgate also offers a great selection from McDermott’s G-Series, in-stock and ready for play. Or custom order one to your exacting specifications and designs. If you’d like to see a great video of how they are made, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kj-jkVcYPpw
Your Big Break
A word of recommendation: Never break with a two-piece cue unless it is classified as a jump or break cue. With a normal two-piece cue, there is tremendous torque on the joint and your cue may well split there. I prefer a quality one-piece cue. Eastgate Pools carries the Viper. It is a solid maple cue with wonderful wood grains and good cue tips. Do not confuse it with inexpensive Ramin wood cues often found as house cues in pool halls. Ramin wood cues are rapidly produced, poorly cured, and break easily. But they are cheap to replace so pool halls love them. For your home play, the Viper one-piece cues are a perfect choice. And even if you prefer your two-piece cue, do you want your neighbor using one of your nicer ones? Food for thought.
Many in-home poolrooms have some sort of obstacle to play. Perhaps you have a basement support post that doesn’t allow a full pull on the cue. Maybe it’s a wall a little too close or a beer frig that must stay! Your standard 57-inch cue just doesn’t work on shots that are affected by these impediments. The solution: Keep a couple short cues on hand. Manufacturers generally make these ranging from 36 to 52-inch lengths to eliminate the problem. They’re also easier for younger kids just learning to play. You’ll find these at Eastgate Pools, too.
Play Better and Have More Fun
Simply stated, a great pool cue may not turn you into a pool shark, but it can’t hurt. If you’re looking to replace those old, warped house cues you have, stop in. If you’re looking for an amazing two-piece for competitive play, Eastgate Pools has those, too.