If pool is more than just a hobby to you, then you’re probably fantasizing about buying those expensive pool cues. Even if you’re not aiming for a McDermott or a Balabushka, the good stuff does cost you a pretty penny.
Amateur cues can cost anywhere from $100-200, whereas something a bit more professional can go up to $500, so it would make sense if you’d want to take care of such a prized possession. Sometimes the maintenance of your cues can make or break your game. And how to store pool cues properly definitely comes under that.
How you store your cues plays a big part in their longevity. Everything from choosing the right cue case, to how you place them in a cue case, to where and how you place the cue case matters. And if you feel quite lost while reading all of that, then you’ve come to the right place.
We’ll be discussing in detail on not only whether you should choose a soft case or a hard case, but also why you should place your cues joint up and avoid leaving them in areas that experience extreme temperatures or high humidity levels, as well as why your cues should never be placed at an angle.
Taking care of your cues always pays off. It not only increases their life but prevents the warping and swelling that wood might be subject to overtime. If you’re someone who can be a bit careless then fiberglass and titanium cues would be a good option for you. Although they are not immune to warping, they are still much more resistant than wood cues.
Why Learn to Store Cues Properly?
The main goal here is to simply preserve our cues and keep them at their best working condition so they do not affect our plays negatively. This means doing our best to prevent dents, scratches, fractures, and warping.
What Warps a Pool Cue?
- If the cue is left in extreme temperatures then it might warp, be it too hot or too cold.
- If the cue is under pressure like side pressure for extended periods of time.
- If you bang the butt of the cue on a wall or the table.
- High levels of moisture and humidity can also warp wooden cues.
Step 1: Selecting the Perfect Pool Cue Case
The first choice you would have to make is between hard cases and soft cases. The exterior for hard cases is usually made of plastic, which can be PVC, polypropylene etc. These can have cue butt and shaft openings lined with foam, or even dividers lined with silk or other moisture-wicking materials.
Hard cases are preferred by professionals because they offer the highest form of protection. Soft cases can get damp and stain easily, therefore exposing the cue to moisture, whereas hard cases do not. Hard cases also have high-impact tubing for your shafts and butts. This helps protect them against dents and warping.
Hard cases can also stand up on their own, protecting your cues against unnecessary pressure. They’re perfect if your tournaments don’t require a lot of travelling, as they can weigh up to 12 pounds and might be too heavy to take on airplanes often. If you’re a beginner, you might not need something so heavy duty anyways, as this case can be quite the investment.
Beginners tend to prefer soft cases. They weigh about 2 pounds and are easy to carry around. They might not have tubing to store your shaft and butts but they do have compartments to keep them separate and prevent them from denting. They’re great for short term storage, although not as efficient as hard cases, and still do their job of protecting your cues.
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Step 2: How Do You Put a Cue in a Case
Inserting your cue into your case properly is the easiest thing you can do to maintain your cue, but its importance is oftentimes overlooked. After detaching the shaft from the butt, insert both of them joint-up, having your male and female pin facing out.
This not only prevents the pins from getting damaged if accidentally pushed face down into the case, but also protects the interior of the case from getting damaged. Apart from that, if you insert your shaft joint-down into the case, it’s more likely to collect fuzz and chalk at the joint.
Step 3: How to Store Your Case
Now there are two things to take care of while storing your case. The first is the position in which you store your case, and the second, is where you store it. Both can affect your cues and cause warping if done wrong.
The Position of Your Case
Since most hard cases can stand vertically, it’s obvious that this position must not be damaging for your cues. So the question now is, can you store your cues horizontally?
The answer is yes. Cues can be stored both vertically and horizontally; however, to avoid side pressure, they must not be kept at an angle. This means they should neither be kept leaning against the wall nor draped around your shoulders.
The side pressure due to these can cause unnecessary pressure against the wood grain, and even micro-fractures of the wood fibers which cause your cue to eventually break.
If, for some reason, you have to keep your cue leaning against the wall, then make sure it leans with the butt facing down, six inches away from the wall. This helps concentrate the pressure induced by the weight of the cue on the thickest part of the cue instead of the thinnest part in the shaft.
The Placement of Your Case
There are three things you have to look at when deciding where to store your cues: Temperature, pressure, and humidity. We’ve already discussed how to minimize side pressure to maintain your cues. Now let’s talk about temperature and humidity.
As previously mentioned, your cue must not be left in extremely high or low temperatures. That means you must store it away from heat sources and direct sunlight, as well as places that face extreme temperatures, like a hot car, a cold basement, or an attic which can cause it to warp. Leaving your cues in damp places can also cause the wood to weaken and swell.
The life of our cues is based on how well we maintain them, and that includes storing them properly. Making sure that they do not warp or dent is important, since warping makes cues uneven and that can affect our shots.
One way to check if your cue is warped, is to swiftly roll it on a smooth, levelled pool table with your fingers, and keep your eyes on the tip of the cue. If it wobbles, it’s warped. You may roll the shaft and butt separately to get a better idea or just observe them closely for any unevenness or bumps.
It’s easier to prevent premature warping than it is to correct warped cues. Therefore, always keep your cues in a rack or case when not in use. You may place them horizontally or vertically, but never at an angle. Place both your shafts and butts joint up and avoid placing them in humid areas or in areas where the temperature might be too hot or too cold.
Handle them with care and make sure you do not apply any unnecessary pressure on them and you’re good to go. With these tips it’s much more likely that you’ll get your money’s worth of use out of your prized cues!