A good step for any novice pool player is to learn the parts of a pool cue. Though the cue may look like two distinct parts, there are many intricate pieces that play a surprisingly significant role in shaping the shot. This simple, step-by-step guide will provide a basic understanding of the anatomy of a pool cue.
We'll start with the basic design from the part of the pool cue that you use to strike the ball, referred to as the tip. The tip is usually made of compressed and is commonly 13 mm in size, but can range from 12-14 mm. It is glued to the end of a cue. Variances in the tip affect how the cue ball is struck. Some tips on the tip:
- Harder tips generate a more powerful shot.
- A softer tip will provide more control.
- This principle can be applied to most of the materials used for designing a cue.
Directly after the tip going down the cue comes a white space referred to as the ferrule. It is made of strong material and is designed to reinforce the tip of the cue and reduce vibrations from the shot. For the beginner, the ferrule is not really a consideration, but for more advanced players you'll want a ferrule that doesn't add inconsistencies to your shot.
The next part of the pool cue that we're going to focus on is the shaft, which is the longest part of the top half of the cue. It is usually made of maple wood, but manufacturers also sometimes use graphite or fiberglass. The length of the shaft’s taper, becoming smaller toward the tip, and the smoothness of the shaft's wood provide a consistent shot that lets the cue slide through your fingers.
- Note that usually hard rock maple is used for pool cues. This kind of wood for parts of a pool cue is favored for its resiliency, stability and pleasing color.
- At the end of the shaft is the joint, which is a small band that connects the butt to the shaft. The joint is an important part of the pool cue, and the material used will determine the strength of the shot.
- Many different materials are used on the joint, including resin, wood, graphite and metal, depending on the player's desire for either power or control.
- In the middle of the joint is a ring, which can also be found near the top of the butt of the cue. The ring is used to reinforce the joint.
- At the base of the joint is the collar, connecting the butt to the joint. Usually made of wood, steel or ivory, the collar is key in ensuring a consistent transfer of power from the butt to the shaft.
The Pin, Rings and Collar
The pin is a metal piece at the top of the butt and sticks out to join with the shaft. This piece is also referred to as the joint screw. Next comes another set of rings and a collar. Usually the location of rings are referred to as A, B, C, D and E, going from the tip of the cue down.
Past the rings and collar is the forearm. It is a long part of the cue generally made of wood that has a flair for design. Here’s some information on the forearm:
- The forearm features intricate inlays, or less expensive decals.
- The wood is coated with a high gloss finish to protect it from wear and tear.
- The inlays are both structural and aesthetic. While intricate inlays featuring ivory or gemstones are popular, manufacturers have to be careful not to disturb the balance of the cue.
The Wrap and The Rest
After that, the wrap is on the handle of the cue, and is generally made of leather, Irish linen or cork. The wrap should have an excellent grip and absorb the moisture from sweaty hands.
Here’s what comes after the wrap:
- The butt sleeve, a few inches at the base of the cue. Frequently made of the same wood as the forearm, the butt sleeve also features inlays.
- At the very base is the bumper, a small piece of rubber that absorbs the impact of a shot.
- Cues also are made heavier with a weight bolt. An important consideration for any player is determining what weight cue works best, and if you want to play with a cue that allows you to switch weights. Cues range in weight from 18-21 oz. Some players prefer a 21 oz. cue to break, and then switch to a lighter cue for the rest of the round.
The quality of any given cue is based on the high-quality design of each of these elements as parts of a pool cue and as a unit. An excellent artisan knows how to create beautiful, tasteful inlays that won’t disturb the balance and playability of a cue. Frequently, custom designers put their own flair into certain aspects of a cues design, from using exotic woods to signature inlays. Understanding the anatomy of a pool cue and the differences between them is a critical first step when considering the purchase of any cue.