It can be disappointing to realize your pool cue is warped.
Whether from improper storage, mishandling, or time, any wood cue can become warped.
Here’s how you can fix it.
How To Tell If a Pool Cue Is Straight
There are a couple of ways to tell whether your cue is straight or bent.
One popular method of testing the straightness of a cue is to roll it.
The other way is called “sighting the cue.”
Test Pool Cue Straightness by Rolling
You can test the straightness of a cue by rolling it on a pool table. Roll the cue on the table.
Almost all cues have a tapered shape, so it shouldn’t move directly from side to side. It should arc slightly.
However, while there should be a slight arc, it should not wobble. If the tip wobbles while rolling, your cue is bent. If you have a two-piece cue, take it apart and roll the pieces separately.
On a two-piece cue, either the shaft or the butt may be bent. Rolling the pieces separately will help you determine which is the culprit.
This method of testing is not perfect. Higher-end pool cues have compound tapers that may appear wobbly when rolling, even when straight. The sighting method is more precise.
Test Pool Cue Straightness by Sighting
Sighting the cue is a more reliable method of testing cue straightness than rolling. To sight the cue, begin by holding it up with the butt toward your face. Look down the cue toward the tip.
Next, roll the cue in your hands while watching the tip, like twisting a kaleidoscope. Make sure to turn the cue a full 360 degrees. You should be able to see the tip the whole time.
If you lose sight of the tip while rolling the cue, your cue is bent. You may also notice the tip wobbling while you rotate the cue. This is another sign that your cue may be bent.
How To Straighten a Pool Cue
If your cue becomes bent for whatever reason, all is not lost.
There are ways to fix a warped pool cue in most cases.
Straighten Your Cue by Hand
You can often fix a minor warp in your pool cue just by applying opposite pressure. To do this, hold your cue at an angle with the tip on the floor.
Press gently on the warp to ease it back into place.
This method should work for most minor bends.
If it doesn’t, or if the warp is severe, you may need more advanced techniques.
Straightening With Steam
Heat and moisture bent your cue out of shape. It can help you bend it back, too. Start by boiling a pot of water on your stove.
Then hold the warped section of the cue in the steam over the pot.
After a few minutes, you can retry the hand straightening method. The wood should be softened enough to be more flexible.
With a little bit of finagling, this should straighten a warped cue.
What’s Wrong With a Bent Cue?
Does a bent cue impact your game? Probably, but just how much depends on a lot of factors. If the bend in the cue is near the tip, it can cause some pretty wild play issues.
This is because a bend near the tip transfers energy at an unexpected angle. A bend near the tip can cause the cue ball to behave unexpectedly. Even a slight curve near the end is a problem.
If the bend is further from the tip, it may not be much of an issue. Many professionals can play with a bent cue without too much trouble. New players may have more trouble, however.
The impact on your game also depends on how severe the bend is. A very slight warp in the cue is not likely to make much of a difference. A badly warped cue, however, will not play well.
How a Pool Cue Can Become Bent/Warped?
If you’ve ever played at a pool hall, you’ve probably played with a warped cue. What causes a pool cue to become warped in the first place?
Most pool cues use wood, which is very prone to warping. If you’ve ever been to a lumber yard, you’ve seen how much wood warps naturally. A pool cue is no exception.
Temperature and moisture are the two main culprits in wood warping. Wood contains moisture that has to be dried out before it can become a cue. If water is trapped inside, the cue will warp.
Moisture can also leak in from the outside if not correctly sealed. Cue manufacturers carefully dry, treat and seal the wood to remove and repel water. This extends the life of the cue.
Generally speaking, more expensive cues receive more treatment to dry and seal the wood. However, all wood cues can warp under the right circumstances if not avoided.
Temperature shifts cause wood to expand and contract. A wood cue will swell in excessive heat and shrink in the cold. These changes may not be visible, but they damage the cue.
Exposure to excessive moisture can also cause even the most expensive wood cue to swell. Storing your cue in a damp basement or garage is a potential cause of moisture damage.
Other storage and mishandling issues can lead to warping as well. Leaning your cue against the wall when not in use will cause it to bend. Over time, the bend will increase, warping the cue.
How To Prevent a Pool Cue From Bending
Any combination of microscopic changes in the wood’s structure will cause the cue to warp.
However, with proper storage, handling, and maintenance, you can reduce the risk of damage.
The best way to avoid warping your cues is to store them properly. When you’re not playing, they should be stored indoors in a hard case or rack.
Proper storage reduces stress on the cue.
Indoor storage also reduces the risk of temperature fluctuations and humidity. Storing your cues properly in a climate-controlled environment will prevent most warping.
Care and Maintenance
As soon as you begin playing with a cue, the protective coatings begin to break down. Proper maintenance is just as critical as sensible storage. There’s more to care about than cleaning.
In addition to cleaning your cue, you should burnish it periodically. The burnishing process closes the pores in the wood, reducing the risk of moisture damage.
Periodically apply cue wax or sealant to refresh the cue’s moisture protection. With proper cleaning, burnishing, and sealing, you can keep moisture out for longer.
Proper care, maintenance, and storage of your pool cues can prevent most warping. Heat and moisture are the leading causes of wood damage and distortion.
You can avoid the most severe bends by storing your cues vertically or in a case. Periodic cleaning, burnishing, and waxing help, too.
However, any cue can still get bent out of shape over time.
If your cue becomes warped, you can first try bending it back by hand. If that doesn’t work, applying a little bit of steam in your kitchen should do the trick.
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