Cue Maintenance 101

Pool cues are fairly basic items that don't require a great deal of cue maintenance. However, just like anything else, when taken care of correctly, they will give years of reliable service.

The following tips will help you keep your cue sticks in top condition.

The tip of the cue is the item that will need most of your attention. Since it is the actual point of impact with the cue ball, it takes the most abuse.

The leather of the tip will compress, harden, and eventually begin to mushroom from repeated hits - naturally the more you play the faster this will happen. The leather of the tip will start to dryout and develop a slick finish, thereby holding less chalk and reducing the friction and grab on the cue ball.

One way to help prevent the tip from mushrooming and drying out prematurely is to put a little spit on the tip of your finger and rub it around the edge of the cue tip, wiping off any excess and burnishing. This will harden the tip and prolong its life.

A proper radius to the tip should be maintained to insure that the cue can hit the cue ball at the proper angle and point of contact to manipulate the cue ball in the desired manner. Properly radiused tips will have the curve of a nickel or dime, depending on preference, while a break stick would be better served to be the shape of a quarter, as English usually is not desired on the break.

Various types of tip shaping and radiusing tools are available. These tools often scuff the tip also to insure it will hold chalk well and provide a good grip to the cue ball. Another cue maintenance tool called a tip pik pokes little holes in the leather to provide a place for the chalk to collect. Still another device is made to trim the mushroomed edges of the tip.

A cue tip should be changed periodically, especially when it starts to become thinner from repeated shaping. Check out the cue tip repair page for more info on changing tips and cue tip kits. When the tip becomes too thin, the force of the shot can be transferred directly to the ferrule, thereby cracking or otherwise damaging it.

It is much cheaper and easier to replace a tip than a ferrule. Tips, glue, a clamping device to hold the tip while the glue dries, and various shaping tools are all available individually or as part of a cue tip kit .

The ferrule is usually made of a high-impact material that stands up to the abuse of the shot impact and protects the wooden shaft of the stick. This area may just need a wipe with a slightly damp rag now and then to remove chalk residue.

The shaft of the cue stick can benefit from some occasional cue maintenance. This area can become caked with dirt, chalk dust, and sweat from the hands. A slightly damp cloth or paper towel should be used to wipe down the shaft, being careful to avoid excess moisture.

Various shaft cleaning products are available if the cue shaft needs a more thorough treatment. The shaft can be rubbed with a very fine 000 steel wool once in a while to remove stains and roughness that have developed.

This will open the pores of the wood, and they should be sealed by a burnishing with one of the leather shaft polishers that are available. Finally, the cue stick may be coated with a fine bees wax to give it a nice smooth finish and gloss.

The joint on a well-made pool cue is an area that won't require much cue maintenance. Just keep the threads clean and protect them from damage. Joint protectors are a good investment. These devices screw into the threaded joints when the cue is taken apart to protect the pin and matching threaded hole from abuse.

The butt of the cue is another fairly cue maintenance-free area. An occasional wipe with a slightly damp rag will help to remove built-up dirt, hand oil, and fingerprints.

The bumper is an important part of the cue stick and should be tightened if loose and replaced if worn down.

A hard cue case is the best way to protect your cue when it is not in use. Wipe off excess chalk before inserting it into the case and store it in an upright position to prevent warping. Avoid leaning the stick against the wall when it's in use for the same reason.

It's a good idea to wash your hands before handling the cue as a proactive way of avoiding dirty build-up from the beginning. Keeping the cue at as constant a temperature as possible is a good idea. If bringing the stick in from the cold, allow it to warm up before use to stabilize the wood and avoid damage.

By following these simple acts of cue maintenance, your cue stick will serve you well in your quest to play your best.

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