How to Maintain Your Pool Tip

Now that you have purchased your own pool cue and followed some of the advice in the previous articles before doing so, you will want to take care of your investment. A good tip is relatively durable and forgiving, but all tips require care and some maintenance. Here we will talk about wooden pool tips, graphite and fiberglass rods are almost bulletproof and require a little less maintenance.

CASE. You will need a safe to carry your new sign into the pool hall. I would have thought it would be obvious, but still, I constantly see people with new signs on their hands. Come on now, you’ve spent your money and time choosing a cue stick you love but can’t rush into some kind of lawsuit? Basic covers are vinyl or soft-edged material. These will protect your cue from minor drops and knocks, but nothing more. I highly recommend hard cases as they provide a lot of protection. Some cases are tested by driving over them without damaging the clue inside! Your pool cue can take a lot of damage in your car, home or even your pool room, so protect it as much as you can.

While we are on the subject of carrying your cue, never leave your pool cue in your car, especially in the trunk! Wood is highly sensitive to temperature changes and moisture, so avoid storing your pool stick in your vehicle at all costs. Wood expands and contracts, which can cause warping, loose joints and crack spots.

TIP. The tip of your billiard cue (the part that hits the ball) is the most important part of the stick. You can play pool with a tree branch or a broom handle – or you can play with the most crooked stick in the house if the tip is sturdy and properly shaped! It’s not a joke! Screw ends are a serious no-no, so don’t even go there. “Real” tips are glued and come in a variety of hardnesses. Soft tips hold chalk better and are better for applying “English”, but they wear out and cork quickly. Extremely difficult tips last forever but need constant re-chalking. Others say they shot more accurately. A medium-hard tip should be fine for most players. The tip must be able to hold chalk, so periodic rubbing is necessary. The roundness of the tip must be maintained with a shaper. Most players compare the roundness to that of a nickel, but some prefer the tightness of a “dime curve”. Too frequent shaping and rubbing will cause your tip to fade quickly, so shape and scrape only as needed. The edges of the tip should be flush with the ring, not mushroom-shaped. Get yourself a sponge/styler and heed that tip!

SHAFT. When you first bought your pool cue, the shaft was nice and smooth and the bridge glided out of your hand easier than ever before. That didn’t take long, did it? Sweat, oils, and dirt from your hands adhere to your shaft very quickly, which makes the shaft sticky and not as smooth. How do you prevent this and how do you clean it? First, you can’t do much to prevent this from happening, other than washing your hands frequently and keeping them clean and dry. Some people use powder like baby powder on their bridge hands and cue sticks. A small amount of powder rubbed well into your hands is fine – it will make your skin softer, but powder should never be used as a lubricant. Wash your hands! Dust will cause your cue shaft to stick more quickly and dust will destroy the seal on the pool table. Nothing looks or plays worse than clean green felt with white baby powder all over it because some idiots thought they had to sprinkle powder all over the place so they could shoot better! It just isn’t – so don’t. Bad for your sign and bad for the table. Have some respect, huh?

Wiping the shaft of your billiard cue shaft with a soft cloth during play will limit the amount of dirt that builds up on it. Not eating or drinking with your bridge hand is also a good habit to get in. It’s a good idea to occasionally use a very light leather polishing pad. But over time, the pores in the wood of the shaft will become completely filled with dirt and oils and will need a thorough cleaning. I’ll tell you how I did it, remember, if you screw up you can ruin your tip. Forever. The first step is to completely wipe the shaft (not the ferrule) with a soft cloth and some alcohol. You don’t want to wet the wood with it, just use enough to clean the wood. Continue wiping with alcohol until you see dirt on the cloth. Alcohol cleans the dirt and oil of the wood and opens the pores of the wood. Now you want to let it sit and dry for a few hours. Now it’s wax time! Right, I said wax. For this, you need to use 100% carnauba wax. Car polish is fine as long as it’s 100% carnauba wax.

Just like waxing a car, apply a coat of wax with a soft cloth or applicator and let it dry to a haze. You can’t let it dry for too long, just let it sit for a bit and have some patience. Once the wax is completely dry you’ll want to wipe it off – and immediately start working the shaft with a leather polishing pad (or a flat piece of thick leather if you don’t have a polisher – you must have anyway). Wrap the leather around the shaft and move it up and down as fast as you can (yes, it sounds dirty). The more you scrub and the faster you scrub, the hotter the wax will get, which allows it to get into the pores of the wood. When you’re finished, you’ll have a nice, smooth shaft once again – but you’re not done yet! You will have to go through all the steps again except the alcohol part. Apply more wax, let it dry, rub, repeat until at least 3-4 coats of wax are well worked into the wood. Now pay attention to the hint and go play some pool!

BUTT. Your pool cue’s butt shouldn’t need a lot of maintenance. Keep it clean and wipe it with a soft cloth during and after play. Don’t hit or drop (or throw) things with it. The joints will loosen, the wood will crack, and if you do this, the pieces will fall apart. Then you will have to buy a completely new sign.

“Dings” on the shaft. Nothing is more frustrating than running your pool cue across your bridge and feeling little “gaps” in the wood. No matter how careful we try to pay attention to our pool cues, these little dents always pop up – as if by magic. Here’s a method I learned to remove minor imperfections from the shaft of your pool stick. First, you need to wipe the shaft with rubbing alcohol, as in the paragraph about cleaning the shaft. This will open the pores of the wood. Next, find a place where you can place the shaft where it won’t roll and crash. Tilt the spindle (horizontally) with the teeth you want to remove facing up. Now, wet a very small piece of tissue with water and shape it into a ball (think miniature saliva ball) and place the tissue ball directly on the recessed spot on the shaft. It is important that the tissue ball is no larger than the actual indentation on the shaft. Leave it until it’s completely dry – what happens is that the wood in that tiny area absorbs the water in the tissue and swells, bringing that spot to level with the surrounding wood. In a perfect world the “ding” would disappear, but what usually happens is that the “ding” becomes a little “bump” – which is good because the bumps can be handled fairly easily with a buffing pad. Once all your “gaps” are level or slightly above level, it’s time to polish the shaft. Follow the instructions above for the proper method to do this. Of course, another way to fix dents and dents in your pool cue would be to take it to a professional, but where’s the fun in that?

NEVER USE Abrasives. Non-stop. Period. This is no sandpaper, no scouring pads, no wet/dry paper, nothing. It’s designed to remove wood, rather than keep it out of your pool sign! You never want to remove a layer of wood just to make it smooth – you want to clean the existing wood to preserve the sign’s shape, balance and feel.

Your pool cue represents an investment on your part, so keeping it clean and in good condition will make it last a lifetime – so many pool players now!

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