OTC Billiards

Basic Cue Stick Maintenance 101- Tips And Tricks

All You Really Need To Know On How To Take Care Of Your Cue

( This do-it-yourself instructional tutorial written by Janice Moore )

Keep Your Cue Stick Clean

There are numerous products on the market, some better than others and some not at all. Think about it. Do you want to use a chemical on your cue that may or may not make it sweet feeling in your hands at the moment, but cause problems later? So... What do I use? A towel. Before, after and during play; to keep my hands and my cue clean, or at least cleaner. Do Not Use Hand Chalk! It mixes with whatever dirt and oils are on your hands and gets into the pores of your stick causing an icky sticky feeling, which most people try to get rid of by using more chalk.

Burnish Your Cue

Most cues are made of wood and being that wood is a porous material if you can manage to minimize or somehow close the pores then half the battle of keeping your stick clean and feeling good in your hands is over. Now, how do you do that? Answer. With a little heat & friction.

Using a piece of smooth undyed leather quickly rub, while rotating the cue, up and down the shaft. Go all the way up and all the way down, evenly. Otherwise, you run the risk, over time, of contributing to the infamous hour glass groove that lots of cues seem to have towards the tip of the cue. Note: the faster, not harder, you run the leather up and down the shaft the more heat and friction and the more you will close them pores. Got no leather handy? Use a crisp dollar bill, or a twenty, or a fifty...


Use sandpaper sparingly and Only If You Have To. If you must use sandpaper to "turn down" your shaft by hand, get nicks out or to "clean" the wood, use nothing rougher than 500 grit, preferably 800 or even 1500. I use to use what is called "crocus" cloth. Once again, go all the way up and all the way down the shaft on all sides evenly. Do Not Concentrate On One Area. The use of sandpaper is the major culprit of the evil hour glass groove thingy.

Mushroomed Tips

This is what sandpaper is for. Just Be Careful. Remember it is the tip your trying to "take down" not the ferrule. You can also easily scratch the ferrule, leaving small nicks and scratches for dirt and cue chalk to gather in. After you "turn" the tip down, burnish it the same way you do your shaft. But! With one exception, now you can and do concentrate your efforts in one area. This is how you make the sides of your tip all nice and smooth and glossy looking.

For a majorly mushroomed tip, if you don't have or have access to any of those fancy tools that can trim away the bulges for you; you can use a razor blade. Just stand the shaft of the cue stick, tip side down on a hard flat surface, and carefully trim away the areas of your tip that mushroom out around the ferrule. Caution. Need I say anymore? Simple, logical thought should be enough to explain why the use of a razor blade should be cautionary. When you trim the tip do so Carefully.

Cleaning The Ferrule

Isn't it amazing what a little toothpaste and toothbrush can do?

Getting Out Nicks

Nicks are caused when the wood that your cue is made of is suddenly compressed, dented, whatever you wish to call it, in one spot. So the trick is to "draw" the nick out. Many people never even think about trying to "draw" the nick out they just go straight for the sandpaper. But, as I suggested previously, you should use sandpaper only if you have to. So you ask, "If I don't use sandpaper, how do I get out the nicks?" Simple. Don't get them in your stick to begin with; at least try not to.

My suggestions are to control your temper, don't loan your stick out unless you know it will be cared for and respect your cue. Your cue is your weapon on a pool table; it's the tool of your trade; the equipment you play with. So watch what your doing. OK, that said, how do you get the nicks out that no matter how careful you are still seem to happen? Well, they often mysteriously disappear after you burnish your cue. What about the ones that don't "mysteriously" disappear. The solution is simple; use a little H2O and heat. "Do you mean I should wet down my cue stick with water and then apply heat? Well, sort of . . . just dab a little water on the nick then use your undyed piece of leather, crisp dollar bill, whatever and burnish the cue. The resulting heat and friction caused by the action of burnishing will cause the wood to expand, effectively "drawing" the nick out.

Last Resort / Getting Out Nicks

You can, simply as a last, the last resort to getting out a major nick use a more extreme source of heat to draw out the wood like the flame of a candle or small lighter. Be Careful! You can easily leave a scorch mark or even burn the wood by using this method.

What To Do About A Bent Cue

Guess what? Since you should always bridge no more than 5-6 inches from the tip of your cue; unless the cue is bent within those 6 inches it will not affect your game at all.

"But! Wait a minute!" you say? My cue is bent and I just can't stand to live with it. Well...You can try straightening the cue by allowing it's own weight to pull out the bend.

Wrap a warm moist towel around the cue to make the wood a bit more pliable. Make sure that you wring as much of the excess water out of the towel as possible first! Keep the towel on just long enough to transfer some of it's warmth and moisture into the wood. Then find some way to hang the cue from its tip; preferably over some source of warmth like a heat duct. Then leave it alone overnight, and let the cue's own weight do the rest.

If that doesn't do it. Well, I'm sorry, but just about anything you may try beyond this would be a major risk to your cue; and I wouldn't suggest doing it. You could easily end up with a worse problem than you had to begin with.

How Does The Author Know Anything About What She's Talking About?

If you think about it. Most of my suggestions are so simple; they could be considered just plain common sense. The kind that we rarely figure out on our own because we rarely stop to think.

So, who did I stop and ask about caring for my cue? Players, housepros... Who did I chose to listen to? The ones whose suggestions were simply logical. Author signature - Janice MooreAnd this is where my thanks goes out to all of those unnamed people who taught me the little bit that I think that I know. --Thank You!


Cue Care Trick Submitted By Readers:

Name: Patrick

Subject: Pool cue maintenance - nicks/dents

Message: Janice,
I was reading your page on maintenance, in particular the advice on extreme dent/nick removal. I have not tried this on a pool shaft before, but a tried and true method of dent removal in the cabinet making world is as follows: Put a drop of water in the dent. Heat an old hammer head with a torch. Drape a piece of damp cloth over the dent and briefly apply the hot hammer. This will force steam into the crushed fibers causing them to expand and won't scorch the wood if done carefully. Your advice to start with the least extreme solution is good. And also to realize that some nicks will be too severe to fix short of filling and sanding.


Patrick tries his own cue repair trick:

.....Writing to you got me motivated and yesterday afternoon took my own advice and steamed two dents out of my own cue. I was reluctant to mess with my new (almost) 314 shaft, but the crosswise dents were driving me nuts. Embarrassed to say that I don't know how they got there - I am extremely careful with my cue!

The steamed areas are slightly rough (dull spot in the sheen) due to the steam "raising the grain". I'm waiting for the fibers to fully dry and then a light sanding and burnishing should make them totally disappear. Smoothing the fibers before they are dry would result in a slight depression after they shrink (dry).