One of the best ways to overcome stress generated by a modern hectic lifestyle entails indulging in sports and billiards is a popular choice after a hard day’s work. However, like any other sport, a game of billiards can be truly enjoyed only when the playing equipment, meaning the table, balls and most importantly cues, is of premium quality. Suppose you wish to set up your own personal billiards facility, a fact that you would soon have to face is that amongst all equipment, shopping for cues is definitely the trickiest part.
Cues are available in a wide spectrum of prices and while some may cost less than $10, others could be expensive enough to burn a large hole in your wallet. That said, it is not necessary that a higher price tag translates into a good cue and this is the reason why you, as a buyer, should be educated to the point of being able to distinguish between the different grades. By and large the outcome is dependent on the process of manufacture as also the craftsmanship of the maker and hence varies from one brand to another.
Given that cues are made of wood, like wine they go through several stages before the final deliverable is ready for sale and the time frame for completion is often lengthy. Every type of wood is characterized by its own unique traits and reacts differently on being exposed to atmospheric conditions by expanding or contracting along its concentric circles.
On their part, cue-makers need to respect this behavior and schedule their manufacturing process accordingly. Attempts to hasten the process by adding chemicals to stop the natural action or shaving off too much may result in poor-quality products and hence should be avoided.
Chemicals do stabilize the process but they also disrupt the inherent cycle, thus causing the wood to lose its natural feel. The trick is to balance out the action of additives with the natural ageing process of the wood, and cue-makers that have perfected this art are the ones who come up with the best results. To you, the buyer, this is manifested in form of a smooth surface which is completely bereft of blemishes and appears to be immaculate throughout its length.
Irrespective of your familiarity with billiards, it is important to closely examine certain parts while buying cues. Particularly important is the ferule, which occupies the space between the shaft and the tip, and this should be well-placed to the point of sitting well between the two components. Overall, the transition from the shaft on to the ferule and from ferule to the tip should be even and free from excess glue marking its sides.
When you pick up a cue at a shop, the first thing that you must do is to feel the tip. Ideally it should be rounded like a dome and attached firmly enough so as not to come off if popped with a finger. Likewise, the position of the pin is a good indication of the manner in which the wood might have been handled – a centered pin reflects on appropriate handling and relaxed state and anything to the contrary implies that it might have been forced into its present state.
Some of the other aspects that you must look out for at the time of buying cues are wrap which could be string, leather or rubber and butt-cap and bumper, both of which should be sans chips. Finally cues should be straight to the point of being able to roll without wobbling and must not reveal any warps or bends when held in the hand like a rifle and examined down their entire length.