Pool cues seem like simple tools that don’t need a lot of explanation.
When most people picture a cue, they think of a wooden stick and not much else.
However, just like any other instrument, a lot of thought and consideration goes into making them.
What are Pool Cues Made Of?
The more common cues that exist in bars for public use are wooden.
The wood is often maple or ash.
What type of wood depends on cue quality and whether they’re pool or snooker cues.
If the manufacturer is using maple, they will choose a harder wood.
Hard rock maple is stronger than other maples, making it a common material for cues.
Ash is primarily for snooker cues.
It’s more flexible and more expensive than maple, so sometimes snooker cues use maple instead.
Other choices for strong pool cues include:
- Brazilian Rosewood
- Olive wood
Some people prefer cues from these woods for a personal or unique touch.
Sometimes manufacturers will charge more for these woods because they aren’t as common.
However, these choices are not necessarily more expensive than more popular ones.
More exotic woods like cocobolo or ziricote provide an extra element of pizazz. They supply brilliant color or intriguing patterns to the wood for a more pleasing aesthetic.
Wood from a burl is becoming a more popular choice for pool cues.
Burls are wort-like disfigurements that grow on trees. They can attach themselves to any kind of wood.
People enjoy burl wood due to its appearance. Harder wood burls often become inlays or decorative sections of pool cues.
Because of the nature of the burl’s growth, each has a unique pattern. Using them for cues will ensure a beautiful and entrancing appearance as well as a strong instrument.
Some manufacturers make their cues entirely out of sources like:
- Carbon fiber
The benefit to many of these other materials is their resistance to warping. Many, like graphite or fiberglass, are stronger and lighter than wood.
As such, many players prefer them over traditional cues. Similarly, carbon fiber pool cues don’t need a lot of maintenance to keep their shape.
These benefits of non-warping, low maintenance, and strength are necessary to compete with wooden cues.
However, some of these choices are more likely to bend or warp. Metal alternatives, in particular, are easy to dent.
Factors like temperature, time, and improper care will contribute to warping. High temperatures might cause a graphite or aluminum pool cue to become misshapen.
As a traditional material, wood is much more popular. Though they may warp over time, they are hard to dent. They also have a certain weight that most players enjoy.
Some people believe lighter materials like carbon fiber feel too flimsy. They find heavier wooden cues much easier to aim and trust.
A lengthy manufacturing process can prevent the majority of wood from severely warping over time.
Using straight-grained wood is also more common as it gives more strength to the cue.
However, wooden cues often require more maintenance than other substances.
Their needs and heaviness sometimes cause players to search for other options.
Materials for Pool Cue Components
Though some pool cue components only use one substance, other elements like the shaft might require more choice.
The shaft is usually wood, although some pool cues are metal or other substances like carbon fiber.
Also read: How to Clean a Pool Cue Shaft
The majority of pool cue tips are leather. Most are comprised of a single entity that attaches to the cue with glue or screws.
However, some tips are made up of layers of leather laminated together. Lamination is more expensive, and there is the possibility of the layers separating.
This separation will occur if the cue receives improper care. Expense and high maintenance encourage most pool players to avoid layering their tips.
In some cases, manufacturers forgo leather for other options. Rubber, faux leather, or synthetic leather tips are now available as alternatives.
These differences from the traditional leather plug supposedly increase accuracy, cue longevity, and sustainability. Personal preference is also a driving force between all cue modifications.
Also read: What Cue Tips Do the Pros Use?
In the past, ferrules were always ivory. The ivory was strong enough to withstand impacts to prevent the cue shaft from splitting.
Today, manufacturers use more sustainable substances to make ferrules.
The most common ferrule material used is carbon fiber.
Carbon fiber is light enough that it doesn’t affect the aim of the cue. It’s also strong enough to withstand numerous impacts.
Other materials include:
- Melamine Resin
- Phenolic Resin
Brass is much more common for snooker cues. However, sometimes pool cues will use it too.
Melamine and phenolic resins are plastics known for their durability.
They can withstand countless impacts for long periods, making them perfect for the ferrule.
A variety of materials are suitable for joints. Often, they are brass, but they can also be:
- Stainless steel
Metal joints are preferable because they are less likely to change shape over time. Other materials might lose integrity from temperature changes or multiple impacts.
Just like a pool cue shaft, the butt uses wood, metals, or alternatives like fiberglass or graphite. Most often, the material of the butt matches the shaft.
However, pool cue butts need more weight and are optimal places for decoration. Because of these factors, two materials or more can make up a pool cue butt.
The most popular way to decorate a pool cue is with an inlay in the butt.
Inlays are exotic woods, ebony, or even mother of pearl.
A cue butt’s covering can help with grip or weight issues.
Sometimes a wrap is nothing more than a finish, especially for a decorated pool cue.
Other times wraps are linen, nylon, leather, or even plastic coverings.
Bumpers are one of the few parts of the pool cue that don’t have interchangeable materials.
They are rubber and specifically protect the cue from any impact from the butt end.
It also helps by toning down vibrations to keep the shaft from splitting.
Expensive vs. Inexpensive Materials
Solid wood or metal cues are often cheaper than ones with multiple materials.
For instance, a pool cue with a decorative inlay will be more expensive than one without. Similarly, if a substance like wood uses plastic as a splice, the price will increase.
More exotic materials, like cocobolo or mother of pearl, will drive up the price. However, an inexpensive cue can still perform better than a pricier model.
Often, expensive pool cues aren’t for playing. Instead, their owners display them where maintenance is easy.
Also read: Why Are Pool Cues so Expensive?
Because they are high-impact utensils prone to warping or splitting, a proper cue needs proper materials.
Harder woods or low maintenance and lightweight substances are common.
Each part of the cue has a role, and its material helps accomplish this role. Solid cues of wood, metal, or carbon fiber are often cheaper than spliced substances.
Other articles you may also like:
- Pool Cue Sizes – All you Need to Know
- How to Choose a Pool Cue – Things to Consider!
- How to Store Pool Cues (All You Need to Know)
- Best Way to Travel with Pool Cues
- 10 Most Expensive Pool Cues in the World