Pool is a popular table game that is relatively easy to understand and play, unlike billiards. However, one of the biggest factors that discourages people from taking up this game is that a pool cue stick is expensive and also rare. Here, we shall tell you how to make a pool cue in some easy and quick steps.
Mace to the Rescue
Before the cue stick was designed, pool was played with a mace that consisted of a curved wooden (or metal) head used to push the ball forward, attached to a narrow handle.
A cue stick is a sporting instrument that is used in table games like pool, snooker, and billiards. In case of pool, a cue stick is used to strike the cue ball, which pushes the other balls into the holes in the table. Cues are generally made of wood, but occasionally are also made of fiberglass, carbon, and graphite. These are typically tapered sticks about 58″ long, and weighing 18-22 oz. Their tip diameter usually ranges from 0.50″ to 0.52″.
In this article, we will see how you can make your own cue stick that will serve you just as well as a professional one if you are a pool and wood-working enthusiast. We must warn you though that you will need some actual hands-on practical knowledge of working with a wood lathe to be able to make a cue by following the procedure mentioned below.
Type of Wood
A variety of exotic woods are used to make a pool cue. Whether the cue will be hard hitting or soft hitting depends largely on the type of wood that is used to make it. For instance, ebony and cocobolo produce a hard-hitting cue stick, while rosewood produces a softer-hitting cue. A stick made from bocote falls somewhere in between. You can choose any of the following woods to make your own pool cue:
- African Blackwood
- Amboyna Burl
- Birdseye Maple
- East Indian Rosewood
- Goncalo Alves
- Macassar Ebony
- Pink Ivory
Although we discussed the different types of woods that can be used for making a cue, we will see here the procedure for making cue sticks out of hard maple (Acer saccharum) for the cue shaft, with a handle made out of lacewood (Cardwellia sublimis). Start by roughing out some blanks of hard maple wood to around 1″ in diameter, and set them aside to dry. When the blanks have sufficiently dried, you can follow the following procedure:
Part I – Making the Pool Cue Shaft
Step 1: Mount a dried cue blank on the wood lathe using a stronghold chuck with a spur attachment. True this shaft with the lathe running at 1500 rpm, and jump the speed to 2000 rpm during the finishing process.
Step 2: Use a steady rest while turning the shaft for the cue. Position the steady rest about 1 foot from the tailstock, and true 1″ sections at a time. Stop the lathe, and reposition the steady on the section that you just turned. Go back to the tailstock, and work towards the steady rest turning the shaft.
Step 3: It is advisable to use a skew tool and give a peeling cut to the shaft while turning. Also, keep the contact surface between the wood and the tool as small as possible to avoid excessive vibrations. Refrain from giving a deep cut, as it might result in vibrations.
Step 4: In this step, we have to square both the ends of the cue shaft. Remove the spur attachment, reverse the blank and remount it in the chuck, and bring the tailstock in position. The reason for reversing the shaft is that it is easier to true the shoulder on the tailstock end rather than the headstock. The shoulder should be angled 1-3° in, so the outside of the blank rests in the back of the chuck.
Step 5: Position the steady rest at the tailstock to hold the shaft firmly in place.
Step 6: Remove the live center and place the drill chuck in the tailstock with a.360 bit drill. Be very careful to ensure that the hole is drilled exactly at the center. Drill a 1¼” deep hole in the shaft.
Step 7: In this step, remove the drill bit and mount a 7/16-14 tap in the drill chuck. Tap the previously drilled hole to receive the brass insert. Thread a 5/16-18 x ½ bolt in the insert.
Step 8: Apply some glue to the internal thread, and use the bolt to thread the insert in place. Back the bolt out carefully.
Step 9: Thread a 5/16-18 x ½ pin in the insert. Now, reverse the shaft by placing the pin in the chuck.
Step 10: Start at the tailstock and turn the first 9″ of the shaft to the same diameter, and then work towards the headstock, which will have a final diameter of ⅞”. Remember to use the steady rest in order to minimize the vibrations.
Step 11: Place two 7/8-5/8 OD-ID plastic rings at the headstock, with a silver ring in between them.
Step 12: Finish only the first 4″ of the shaft, and then use a piece of leather polish to finish the remaining shaft.
Step 13: Now, place a ferrule on the tip of the cue shaft. If the diameter of the ferrule is larger than the shaft tip, turn it on the lathe to make it of the same diameter as the shaft tip.
Step 14: Stick a tip in place on the ferrule with some Hot Stuff Glue. Position the steady rest so that it is holding the ferrule. Reduce the lathe speed to 500-600 rpm, and true the tip and the ferrule. The shaft should feel like a complete piece without any edges when you run your finger over it. The final length of the shaft should be 29″.
Part II – Making the Pool Cue Handle
Step 1: The length of the handle should be 29″, and the cumulative weight of the shaft and the handle should be 18-22 oz.
Step 2: Start with a 2″ stock of lacewood, and rough it out to around 1¼” in diameter. Make sure that the shoulder at the tailstock is square.
Step 3: Reverse the handle and mount it into a 3-jaw or equivalent chuck.
Step 4: Drill a hole that is slightly smaller than the 5/16 pin into the handle using a drill chuck mounted in the tailstock. The hole should be about 2″ in depth.
Step 5: Apply some Hot Stuff Glue in the hole, and press the 5/16 pin into position with the drill chuck. This method will make sure that you have perfect alignment, which you probably will not be able to achieve while tapping.
Step 6: After the glue has dried, reverse the handle and place the pin in the driving chuck. You will know whether the previous step was done correctly if the shaft runs true when the lathe is turned.
Step 7: Take a cut along the entire length of the handle to make it perfectly cylindrical. Do not take the cut too deep in order to avoid vibrations.
Step 8: In the next step, you have to add a stainless steel joint collar. Prior to that, drill 5/8 ID threads on the collar. Also, place a 7/8 OD x 5/8 ID x 1/2 black butt material between the collar and the wood. After the end of the handle is turned to 5/8 OD, place the collar in the chuck, apply glue, and then place the collar and ring into position.
Step 9: Turn and finish the handle of the pool cue to the desired taper. It should feel like a complete piece without any joints and edges if you run your finger over it. You can use several coats of gun stock finish on the handle to make it look good. Finally, add a rubber stop at the end.
Your custom-made pool cue stick is now ready to be used, and you can start playing with it once the finish has dried. If you are a novice to woodworking though, we strongly recommend that you just buy a ready-made cue stick. This is because you might get into an accident, as working with a lathe can be quite dangerous if you are not familiar with it, while also wasting a lot of money on the raw materials.