Building cues has many challenges and every cue maker has their own way of dealing with them. Here are some of my thoughts...
It all begins with the quality of materials (wood, steel, adhesives and plastic). Because wood is the least stable of the major materials it requires special attention. Processing wood takes time and is one of the time consuming aspects of cue making. A rapid change in a cues moisture content can really cause problems like: warping, the presence of seams where parts are joined and even parts becoming loose.
The plastic I use is a "thermoset," called phenolic. This plastic has been impregnated with a resin and created under heat/pressure. It also has layers of linen that add even greater strength. This material is very stable and rarely cracks.
Making solid cues comes from solid building processes. I use the same process over and over to create a consistent product. While different pieces of wood can provide varying differences in feel the redundancy in how these pieces are assembled is crucial. I want to develop a cue with a certain "look & feel" that will last the user a lifetime.
Developing solid procedures is key and it is one of the reasons many cue makers are quiet about the details of their methods. Here are some of the steps involved in my cue making:
- Wood choice & selection.
- Milling the wood.
- Initial tuning.
- Aging wood between turnings.
- Turning & seasoning shaft wood.
- Machining all of the parts to be used.
- Assembly of parts to make the butt.
- Turning assembled butt.
- Inlaying (cutting pieces & pockets).
- More turning.
- Matching shafts to the butt.
- Sealing the cue for clear coating.
- Spaying clear coat (6 to 8 coats).
- Inspection of clear coat then final color sanding.
- Buffing the finish.
- Hand rubbing the finish.
- Wrapping the grip.
- Install tip(s).
- Final sand & polishing of the shafts.
- Photograph the finished cue.