Any seasoned pool player will tell you that the strength of your game relies just as much on the condition of your equipment as it does on your skill level.
Since your cue is the most critical piece of equipment in your arsenal, it pays to know how to store it properly.
The Basics of Storing Pool Cues
A reliable pool cue case is your first and best line of defense against premature wear and tear.
Invest in a Quality Pool Cue Case
If you’re serious about keeping your cues in top shape, you need a case: period, end of discussion.
A good cue case will safeguard your premium pool cues from damage and deterioration. Fending off damage and deterioration will, in turn, lengthen the lifespan of your cues.
Most pool cue cases contain rigid, hard-shelled tubes that offer much-needed protection against dents, dings, nicks, and external pressure.
Moreover, higher-end cases are often lined with fabrics that help repel moisture and insulate against fluctuations in temperature. These two environmental factors pose a severe threat to the table-readiness of wooden cues.
This kind of protection doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. You can snag a top-of-the-line cue case—or several—for a fraction of what you would pay for a single cue.
Doing so soon rather than later can spare you a lot of expense and heartache.
Make Sure You’re Using Your Pool Cue Case Correctly
Many newer players make the mistake of inserting their cues into their cases with the tips pointing up.
Their reasoning for this is that they don’t want to risk damaging the tip or dusting the inside of their brand new case with chalk.
Sounds logical enough. But as it turns out, it’s the wrong approach.
As counterintuitive as it may sound, the right way to store your cues in their case is to slide them in with the tips and bumpers pointed down.
That way, the exposed joints will be at the top of the case, where they won’t contact the hard inner shell.
Putting a cue in its case the other way around can cause the connecting pin to bend or wear down over time, eventually leading to game-sabotaging assembly and stability issues.
Fortunately, the tubes running through many cases tend to be tapered, making it impossible for the cue to fit if it’s oriented incorrectly.
Lay Your Case Down Flat
Finally, always set your cue case flat against whatever surface it happens to be resting on.
If possible, leave the case on a secure shelf, table, or desktop. Otherwise, place it on the floor in a closet or out-of-the-way part of the room.
If you let your case sit at an angle, it could shift, slide, or bump around inside, increasing the likelihood of damage and putting you right back where you were.
For the same reason, you’ll want to make it a point to handle your case carefully while there are cues in it.
Some Useful Pool Cues Storage Tips
These additional storage tips will help ensure that your cues stay ready for action at a moment’s notice.
Clean Your Cues After Every Use
There’s no point in shelling out for a fancy new case if you’re just going to put your cues away dirty.
When dirt and grime build up on the shaft of a pool cue, it creates undesirable resistance. Even a hint of resistance can throw off your shots more than you might imagine.
The simplest way to avoid this is to give your cue a quick wipe as soon as you finish using it.
To clean a wooden cue, dampen a lint-free cloth with rubbing alcohol or a mild furniture cleaner and run it over the entire length of the shaft. This will help remove dust, dirt, chalk, and traces of oil leftover from your hands.
Once you’ve done that, grab a fresh, dry cloth and go over it again to do away with any lingering moisture.
A Magic Eraser cleaning sponge can also get the job done while producing a pleasant polishing effect.
If you prefer playing with carbon fiber cues, it’s advisable to use cleaning wipes specifically designed and formulated for the material. Most pool cue manufacturers make such products available on their websites.
Remember: a clean cue is a precise cue.
Use Joint Protectors
While joint protectors may not be at the top of your must-have gear list, billiards buffs everywhere agree that they’re a necessity.
As their name suggests, joint protectors are small molded caps designed to fit over the male and female ends of a disassembled cue.
They’re ordinarily made from inexpensive materials like aluminum or durable plastic and are therefore affordable so that you can easily buy them in bulk.
In other words, there’s no reason not to have at least a few sets on standby.
Some joint protectors even double as scuffers and shapers, which means you can actually add more functionality to your case by prioritizing protection.
To install joint protectors, simply screw them onto the corresponding ends of your cue after you’ve broken it down.
Keep Your Cues in a Climate-Controlled Environment
Moisture and extreme temperatures are a pool cue’s worst enemies. Prolonged exposure to either condition can lead to warping and even splintering.
For this reason, you never want to store expensive cues in the trunk of your vehicle, a poorly insulated garage, a sweltering attic, a dank basement, or anywhere else where they might be vulnerable to environmental perils.
Instead, treat them with the same respect you would show a beloved pet or cherished family heirloom—bring them inside and station them somewhere cool, dry, and safe from unexpected mishaps.
A cheap dehumidifier can make a wise purchase if you live somewhere with high average humidity.
And while you can’t always control the temperature or humidity of the venue where you’re playing, you can wash and dry your hands thoroughly between games to keep moisture to a minimum.
Store Loose Cues in a Cue Rack
Just because you don’t use some cues as often as others don’t mean you have to let them fall to ruin.
If you have any cheap “burner” cues lying around, pick up a dedicated cue rack to house them in.
One of these valuable fixtures will not only keep them together but allow you to store them securely in an upright position.
Vertical storage is the best way to prevent warping from posing a problem for free-floating cues.
Not only that, but a rack full of neatly organized cues and accessories can lend an element of sophistication to your game room or home office.
You can usually find pool cue racks for a steal at antique stores, thrift shops, and online auctions, so keep your eyes peeled if you want to save some cash.
Premium pool cues come with the promise of enhanced performance, but they also come with a good deal of responsibility.
Keeping your cues clean and off-limits to dirt, moisture, and harmful temperature changes can give you a distinct edge on the felt.
And when you’re playing at a high level, the slightest of edges can mean the difference between a notch on your belt and a black mark on your record.
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