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Turning a pool cue

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Forum topic by loiblb posted 05-15-2019 03:01 PM 428 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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loiblb

144 posts in 1415 days


05-15-2019 03:01 PM

I started the butt part of a pool cue using a old cues hardware. The hard part looks to be the front shaft taper to a 13mm tip. I’m seeing almost all are made of maple. Is ash worth using instead?


13 replies so far

View Planeman40's profile

Planeman40

1401 posts in 3120 days


#1 posted 05-15-2019 03:19 PM

I see two headaches ahead of you, (1) turning a long thin “rod” brings the problem of the work flexing and trying to climb over the edge of the turning tool. In machining metal, this is solved by what is known and a “follower rest”. Search “lathe follower rest” on the Internet to see what these are. You will have to make one up for a wood lathe. (2) Wood often has built in stresses that are released when cut. You may find this makes your pool cue crooked after you shape it. You might be able to correct this should it happen by steaming and bending, but this will probably be a bit tricky. Good luck!

-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View DS's profile

DS

3136 posts in 2779 days


#2 posted 05-15-2019 03:35 PM

There was a “How it’s made” episode that showed the making of pool cues.
It was far more complicated than I ever imagined.
The core of the shaft was a cross shape with four pie wedges glued at right angles of grain to make a stable turning blank.
Who would’ve figured?

Perhaps these were premium cues.
The $17 ones at Walmart don’t seem to share this construction.

Definitely a steady-rest is needed for turning.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View Kazooman's profile

Kazooman

1308 posts in 2311 days


#3 posted 05-15-2019 04:03 PM

Fine Woodworking #59, July / August, 1986 had an article on turning a pool cue. I have kept a copy of the article all these years waiting to get a lathe (which never arrived). They do use a steady rest for support when turning the shaft. The handle blank was glued up from several species of wood to provide a nice design when turned into a taper.

You can Google the issue and it is available on line for Fine Woodworking subscribers.

View Rich's profile

Rich

4391 posts in 948 days


#4 posted 05-15-2019 04:20 PM


The handle blank was glued up from several species of wood to provide a nice design when turned into a taper.

- Kazooman

On a premium cue, the woods are selected to attain the final weight and assembled so that the balance is perfect. On my 1973 Viking, the butt is made from ebony and maple. If you see it unwrapped, the woods are put together as I described. Also, my cue is 21 oz, and if I’d ordered, say, an 18 oz cue, there would have been less ebony to make it lighter. With the linen wrap on them though, side-by-side they would have looked identical.

Top of the line cues do not contain weights of any sort.

-- Knowledge is not skill. Knowledge plus ten thousand times is skill. -- Shinichi Suzuki

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Kazooman

1308 posts in 2311 days


#5 posted 05-15-2019 04:51 PM

My cue is a 19 ounce model I purchased in 1967 from the Syracuse Pro Billiard Table Company. The linen wrap is like new and the maple shaft is absolutely dead straight. What I always liked about the cue is that the last 10 – 12 inches of the shaft have virtually zero taper. Slides through your fingers like butter. I also still have about a half a box of National Tournament chalk (beige), some spare tips, a tube of Tweeten’s cement, and the necessary clamp. All of the same vintage as the cue.

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LesB

2075 posts in 3802 days


#6 posted 05-15-2019 04:56 PM

This is a difficult project to take on and you should expect a couple of failures before you succeed. I made a two piece cue years ago and it came out OK but not great. (the two piece brass connecting hardware is available with a little searching) Not being a fanatic on pool playing (I have a table) I decided to use my time on other projects.
As mentioned weight and balance can be tricky and turning support on a single piece cue is critical.
You asked about using Ash. I think it will have a tendency to flex, warp, and even split with hard impacts.

Good Luck

-- Les B, Oregon

View Wildwood's profile

Wildwood

2622 posts in 2493 days


#7 posted 05-16-2019 12:23 PM

Actually think will get more balanced & stable cue using different woods article talks about using exotics in your design bit think using Hard Maple and different domestic hard woods will serve you well. Site ate at bottom has furniture grade turning blacks, but will have to allow wood to reach EMC before turning.

How to do it.
https://sportsaspire.com/making-pool-cue-how-to-make-pool-cue

First choice would be Hard Maple, sometine can find either Curly or
Quilted figure which can also appear in Soft Maple.

Hard Maple
https://www.wood-database.com/hard-maple/

If going to use Ash, look at Black Ash as opposed to other Ash woods.
https://www.wood-database.com/black-ash/

Black Iron wood.
https://www.wood-database.com/black-ironwood/

Black Locust
https://www.wood-database.com/black-locust/

If into laminating this site might provide good selection of both domestic & exotic woods to choose!
https://www.woodworkerssource.com/turning-blanks.html?CatListingOffset=0&Offset=0&Per_Page=36&Sort_By=disp_order

-- Bill

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

2239 posts in 2348 days


#8 posted 05-16-2019 04:20 PM

You want a tight grain wood like maple, not open pore like ash, oak, walnut. Think about the finished wood sliding through your fingers. As others said its a simple looking project at first that is actually quite complicated to get exactly right.

View Jidis's profile

Jidis

19 posts in 423 days


#9 posted 05-16-2019 04:48 PM



I see two headaches ahead of you, (1) turning a long thin “rod” brings the problem of the work flexing and trying to climb over the edge of the turning tool. In machining metal, this is solved by what is known and a “follower rest”.

I posted a picture a while back in the Yahoo 7×12 mini lathe group with some weird hybrid lathe in it that looked like a cross between metal and wood lathes:

http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y193/Jidis/unknown%20lathe.jpg

I was surprised that it took several replies before we found someone that knew what it was (a “pool cue lathe”). I guess I don’t get the right catalogs here. ;)

View Wildwood's profile

Wildwood

2622 posts in 2493 days


#10 posted 05-17-2019 11:30 AM

Never turned a pool cue or would ever want too and wouldn’t look at woodturning vendors for cue making supplies. Would definitely look for sites like this one:
https://schmelkecue.com/pool-cue-making-supplies.html

Many years ago met a man fresh out of the Navy that made cues in his basement. Guess he had a machnist background and made custom cues for many semi pro pool players in the area. Cannot beging to describe his set up, do remember he had made himself some steadies with ball bearings.

Hardest and longest spindles ever turned were pasta rolling pins from hard Maple & cherry 28” & 36”’s long. My homemade steady took a lot of fussing with.

-- Bill

View Planeman40's profile

Planeman40

1401 posts in 3120 days


#11 posted 05-17-2019 01:54 PM

Everybody is talking about a steady rest. What I am talking about is a FOLLOWER rest like is used in long thin turnings in metal machining. Example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJ3NgfCK63o

-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View MrUnix's profile

MrUnix

7357 posts in 2558 days


#12 posted 05-17-2019 02:51 PM

Everybody is talking about a steady rest. What I am talking about is a FOLLOWER rest like is used in long thin turnings in metal machining. Example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJ3NgfCK63o
- Planeman40

I have one for the Vega duplicator, called the slender turning attachment. Same deal as a follower on a metal lathe, which follows the cutter by about an inch. Although, I have not tried using it yet :(

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View Wildwood's profile

Wildwood

2622 posts in 2493 days


#13 posted 05-18-2019 09:43 AM

The lathe follower in the video posted earlier ny Planman40 would be great if engineer one just like it for your wood lathe. Many metal late follower have metal points versus bearings as shown in the video.

If already have a Vega Copier that slender turning attackment would allow you turn lots of pool cues. https://www.acetool.com/Vega-1-875-Slender-Turning-Attachment-p/veg-62602.htm

Unless can find a used copier a new copier very expensive!
http://vegawoodworking.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Vega-Pricing-12.11.20181.pdf

Had better plan on making lot of outstanding pool cues to sell, and becoming famous for your pool cues whether buying new or used equipment!

Can find a good steady rest with bearings or plastic wheels inexpensive to very expensive to buy. My homemade steady with brand new roller blade wheels very inexpensive.

-- Bill

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