Cue Straightness

Mission Statement – Our goal is to deliver a great honest quality pool cue with an original personalized design created just for you & all involving either a flat or non-existent design cost.

INTRODUCTION

When purchasing a cue these days you are reaping, not only the price benefits of Chinese mass-production but also lower prices due to online selling. Back in the 80’s & even 90’s, handmade cues from the UK, US & Europe were still available & if you were prepared to part with $300 – $1000, you could purchase a tournament cue from the local billiard shop, that was absolute perfection. Now you can buy a competition cue online for as little as $79, however, what you’re saving in cost, you’re giving up in perfection. The good news is that you don’t require absolute perfection to win a competition or to play well consistently. Sure, you may have preferences, like weight or tip but if you can’t play without a perfect cue, it’s probably lessons you need rather than a better cue. If absolute perfection is your preference, that’s fine but in that case, you should buy your cue from a physical billiard shop, where you can try the cues out until you find “The One”. Online sellers, like ourselves, check all cues coming in & going out to their own specific standard that will satisfy 99% of buyers but would go broke trying to deliver on a misguided expectation of perfection for the other 1%. The latter ideally, shouldn’t shop online.

“Is it  just messing with your head?”

We are ex-cue makers & for more than 10 years have dealt with the misconceptions involved in cue straightness & the sometimes misguided importance placed on it. We have met players who can’t make a shot once they realize their cue has even the slightest variance (whereas they were playing fine before that) to tip-top professional players who don’t even care whether a cue is straight (because they’ll whip your ass anyway). It can be like a bad tradesman blaming his tools. The fact is that, in most cases, variances of 1 – 2mm do not represent an unplayable cue & don’t affect the playing quality of the cue in any way at all. In fact, if you have a straight top shaft & a joiner or base variance of 2mm, it equates to an accuracy discrepancy at the point of contact of approx. one-tenth that amount.

“Wood plays far better because it absorbs shock, but it is wood & will always act like wood.” 

A second important factor to understand is that timber continues to breathe over its lifetime & may develop a 1 – 2mm variance simply because of change of weather or storage conditions and then lose that variance just as easily. Changes in the timber can be altered by seasons, temperature & humidity, air conditioning & so on. It’s not hard to see how we can check a cue here & it meets with less than 1mm variance, then goes on a 3 week trip across the other side of the world from a hot humid summer to a cold winter (or visa versa), through sorting depots, customs, “plains, trains & automobiles” & have a variance of 1 – 2mm when it gets there. This is why we have the instructions below on how to adjust millimeter variances. You can also look at where & how you store your cue (i.e near a window, in a car, next to a heater/air con, in a box, leaning against a wall etc). All of these aspects affect a timber cue.

 THE ACCEPTABLE VARIANCE STANDARD

We’ve found that the best way to deal with this is to adopt the Accepted Variance Standard (AVS) that we disclose to all customers, in our returns policy, on our proofs & in blogs such as this one. The basis of this standard is that these minor variances exist in 25% of cues, so if we disclose & educate our customers on how to identify & understand & maybe even adjust these insignificant variances then we can ensure that the customer receives an honest good quality unique personalized cue at a great price (re Our Mission Statement).

We don’t get many complaints about straightness because we check our cues thoroughly before applying any design, but over the years it’s amazing how the word “Warped” gets overused. Warping refers to twisting and/or significant bending, whereas most variances are minor joiner variances & can be easily corrected or even ignored as they make little or no difference to how the cue plays. The below is a 3 point check that we perform on every cue, 1.) when it comes in, 2.) before we place any design on it & 3.) again before we send it & the results are recorded on each worksheet.

1.) TOP SHAFT CHECK – Firstly we remove the top shaft of the cue & roll it on the table. This is to identify, how much, if any of the variance is actually in the top shaft where it matters. We are looking for lifting of the tip from the table & whether it relates to the shape of the shaft or a definite hook in the tip end.

a.) A variance of around 1.5mm is acceptable as long as it is not in the shape of a hook in the last 50mm leading to the tip indicating a bent top shaft .

b.) Even though we state 1.5mm as a guide, generally any cue used as a Custom Pool Cue does not start with a top shaft variance greater than 1mm OR any visual hook at the tip.

2.) BOTTOM SHAFT CHECK – For this check, the bottom shaft is removed & rolled on the table. What we are looking for is uneven cue weight or any variance in the shape of the cue butt.

a.) Off-centering of a weight doesn’t affect the playing quality of a cue but we won’t accept it with a cue being used as a custom cue.

b.) Sometimes you can get minor variances in the shape of the butt of the cue. This should be noted simply because it very rarely affects the playing quality of the cue but if you push down at the very base of the cue when doing the the next full length check, it makes it look worse than what it is.

3.) JOINER CHECK – In this check, we are screwing the cue together & rolling the whole cue on the table. Firstly you must make sure that the joiner is tightened properly. If both the top & bottom shaft have passed their check with minimum variance, then any variance in the cue, logically has to come from the joiner. The hand that rolls the cue should be placed about 10 – 15cm below the joiner, not at the very base so as the check isn’t magnified by any slight variance in the taper of the cue butt.

a.) A 1 – 2mm initial variance is acceptable for use as a Custom Pool Cue as long as there are no other significant variances. So if a customer says that they received a warped cue, it is next to impossible unless something significant has happened in transit & then there are signs. Any cue outside our acceptable variance checks are sold as $10 seconds for locals who want knockabouts. With our latest ash cues, we are struggling to find a cue that can be sold as a knockabout.

b.) When we find variances here (after the top & bottom shaft checked out) an adjustment can be performed (This is explained below) .

HOW TO MAKE AN ADJUSTMENT

If both top shaft & bottom shaft checked out for a minimum variance, then any variance in Step 3 logically has to be at the joiner & common sense would tell you that over a distance of 57″ it wouldn’t take a large variance to lift a tip 2mm, so minimal adjustment is needed.

1.)Roll the full cue & then place a marker (like a piece of sticky tape) on the top of the shaft when it is lifting so that you can always locate which way it was bending towards originally.

2.) Turn the cue over & place it flat on the table with the marker facing down.

3.) Place your left hand on top of the joiner & keeping the top shaft flat on the table, put the fingers of your right hand under the bottom shaft (about third way down from joiner) to lift it about a 1 – 1.5cm, then with the left hand, apply pressure on the joiner. This way you can’t push to joiner too far. If you try to lift the bottom shaft, you may simply be bending the bottom shaft in which case, nothing will be achieved or you may lift it too high placing too much pressure on the joiner.

4.) Keep adjusting a little at a time until you have the shaft straight then leave it lying on the table with the marker facing down & place weights (eg books) on top of the tip, the joiner & the base & leave overnight.

5.) Important – Please be patient. it probably took more than a day for your cue to develop a variance so it may take more than one adjustment, in fact, many small adjustments over days or a week to change it back. Don’t force it to get it done in one go. (P.S – Cracking noises are bad)

SUMMARY

Because we are selling a cue that is specifically made for each customer, the cue is of no use to us for resale if returned, so therefore it is not in our interest to send you an inferior quality cue, especially considering 50% of custom cues go overseas. This is why we put our cues through the AVS check so we know that they are of a high standard before the decal design is even applied.

Please note that our focus is on delivering to you a unique designed custom product that you can’t get anywhere else in the world & your personalized design to be delivered on a great quality honest cue at an affordable price.

If you believe your cue to be below the acceptable standard, please run the above checks then be as specific as possible then click here for our Returns Policy Page & Returns Request Form.

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