Do you look after your cue? Some simple tips below……..
I get many cues back to the workshop for minor pieces of work or tip fitting and every now and again I take a cue out of the customers case and wince for various reasons. My dismay is not limited to new players starting out in the game as some of the worst treatment of cues has come from century breakers, you could cry.
Where do I start!
Do not sand your cue shaft
I find more than a few players still keep their shaft nice and smooth by using sandpaper or steel wool, shoot me now! I reckon it takes around 3 to 5 years for 0000 grit steel wool to thin out the top end of the shaft if the player plays 3 or 4 times a week; if the player is using an abrasive sandpaper then a lot less.
I sold a cue a while back and within 6 weeks the cue was back as the last 8 inches of the shaft was scratched to pieces (including the ferrule). The oil was gone, the black grain filler was partially gone and I would guess 250 grit was used looking at the scratches; any longer and the cue would have had some major issues.
The player said it just kept sticking. After discussion it hadn’t been cleaned correctly so we discussed a better way! Fortunately, a little love and attention, some grain filler, a couple of coats of oil, a ferrule clean and some burnishing and the cue was super smooth and ready to go.
How do I clean my cue?
For over 30 years I have got a cloth, wet one end and then squeezed all the water out to make it just damp. I start at the ferrule and drag any grime and chalk away from the ferrule down the shaft until I have gone over the whole cue. I immediately turn the cloth around and clean the same area with the dry end of the cloth (microfibre). I leave the cue for about a minute for the remaining dampness to evaporate and the cue will be smooth if done correctly. I can almost hear some cue makers screaming now about water on wood and swelling etc etc. It’s not a wet cloth, it’s a damp one and has been used by many pro’s and makers for years. It was interesting to see this method on the John Parris website recently.
My advice is to wash your hands thoroughly and clean your cue before / after every session. I had a guy last year complain about his cue and how bad it felt compared to mine so wanted it refinished and re-oiled. Whilst he was at the bar I cleaned it for about 2 minutes, he was amazed and asked what magic spray I had used and where was I hiding it, hmm.
Some of the cues that turn up looked like they’ve rolled down a hill on the gravel! It’s easy to see how when I look in the cases.
- Cue tip sandpaper not even turned inside out and wrapped around the cue
- Loose change for the light meter all over the cue case
- 200 pieces of old chalk in the case and chalk dust everywhere
- Tip prickers / shapers banging on the tip or butt end
- Glasses wedged in and scratching the shaft
and so on……………
My advice is to just get a couple of small plastic bags or drawstring felt ring bags off Ebay (really cheap) and pop the loose stuff in there and put it up the opposite to your tip. If you still don’t have enough room then buy a bigger case! Yes, I would put any spare chalk in there to save the dust getting on your cue shaft.
Although I don’t recommend steel wool for your shaft I do like it for the brass work. Now there are various ways to keep the brass clean and the most popular seem to be:
- 0000 Grit Steel Wool
- Micromesh paper strips
- Brasso/Duraglit etc
In either case I like to pop some low stick masking tape below the ferrule or joints to protect the wood or tip. Personally I don’t like chemicals so avoid Brasso etc as sometimes there is a bit of uncertainty as to how it affects the wood over time, especially just below the ferrule. I prefer using micromesh where possible starting with around 400 to remove a few scratches and then in the 000’s to shine. I always carry a couple of strips in my case.
When using micromesh strips you have to make sure you cut the strips to the right diameter or you will be burnishing the tip at the same time.
Last but not least for me is what are you laying your cue on in the case. I’ve seen many where the foam has gone so the cue just rattles in the dust. Most decent cue case makers who use foam also provide replacement foam (aluminium cases). It’s easy to fit so certainly worth a look.
I’m sure you will have encountered a few more concerns and I know a few will disagree with some points above as they have their own way so feel free to ping me an email and I’ll add any tips to the list.