Looking back at the history of the billiards industry, up until the 1990’s the majority of the cues on the market have been single piece (1pc) cues, and still are in most pubs & clubs. In the new millenium however, because of the advent & huge growth of Online Shopping, 2pc cues now dominate the market, simply because of the shipping advantages. It’s amazing though, that even though we’ve had this huge industry shift over more than 20 years now, some of the antiquated beliefs, understandings & traditions have not evolved past the single piece cue.
It’s now time to clear up one of the biggest misunderstandings in the game & that is the method of checking & adjusting straightness of 2pc cues as opposed to 1pc cues. Because of this difference, we also need to define what actually constitutes a significant, adjustable, or negligable 2pc cue variance.
I doubt if there’s many players who haven’t, at some time rolled a 1pc cue on the table to check the variance, and this is fine because 99% of variances in a 1pc cue do constitute a bent shaft. However, with a 2pc cue, the variance can be isolated to 3 different cue areas & in a lot of circumstances have nothing to do with warping or bending of the shaft:
- Top Shaft Variance – This is the most important part of a 2pc cue variance. Roll the top shaft on the table by itself. If there’s a significant lift in the tip > 1mm, then action needs to be taken (see ACTIONS & ADJUSTMENTS). However if the top shaft is straight or has negligable variance then most joiner or butt variances become negligable or are adjustable.
- Joiner Variance – A cue may possess straight top & bottom shafts but have a minor variation in the joiner causing the tip to lift when rolled. Fortunately, if lift is < 5mm, it can usually be pressure adjusted back to negligable & even zero. (Joiner Variance Significance – Taking into account a median distance between tip & bridge hand when playing a shot – divided by the full length of the cue, a joiner variance will have an innacuracy of around 10% of variance measurement. This means that a joiner variance of <4mm will affect the cues accuracy by <0.4mm. (see ACTIONS & ADJUSTMENTS)
- Butt Shape – Any variation in the shape of the butt can cause the tip to rise if pressed on the very base of the cue, however this has little or no affect at all on cue accuracy. Unless a cue butt has a significantly large bend in one direction, variations here are of very little importance.
We are ex-cue makers & for more than 12 years have dealt with the misconceptions & misguided importance placed on 100% cue straightness. We have met players who can’t make a shot once they realize their cue has a minor variance to the competition player who doesn’t care whether a cue is perfectly straight or not because they’ll whip your butt anyway. The fact is that, as long as the top shaft is straight, variances of 1 – 3mm do not represent an unplayable cue & in most cases don’t affect the playing quality of the cue in any way at all. Is it just messing with your head?
ACTIONS & ADJUSTMENTS
1.) Top Shaft Variance – As defined earlier, the top shaft variance is the important one.
- Roll the top shaft separately on the table & there should be a tip lift of zero to negligable (1mm or less). There can be variations in shape of the top shaft showing a slight gap between shaft & the table however this is only important if it causes significant “lifting of the tip”.
- If there is significant bending of the top shaft, especially when it’s in the shape of a hook to one side in the 20cm leading to the tip, you have valid reason for requesting a cue return/replacement if just purchased – or to try to straighten it yourself if not in warranty. To attempt a minor straighten, please see the below video.
2.) Joiner Variance – This is the most common variance & as stated, as long as the top shaft is straight:
- A variance of <3mm is negligable & adjustable. A variance of 3 – 5 mm can be adjusted back to negligable.
- A joiner variance can be caused by various factors from expanding wood to foreign material in the joiner area to a minor offset when being made. Either way, as you can imagine, when dealing with an item thats has a 22mm diameter at the joiner but is 1500mm long, it’s not that surprising that a slight change can cause a <5mm variance. The beauty is that the adjustment only needs to be a minor one.
A.) Checking the joiner itself – (The cue may not need an adjustment)
- First check to make sure that the joiner is actually tightened properly. It’s remarkable how many times a joiner variance is cause simply by not tightening the joiner correctly.
- Clean the joiner surfaces on both the top & bottom shafts where they come together. You may also blow out the joiner hole with compressed air. Foreign material like dirt, dust & even lacquer residue from how the cue was finished can cause a joiner not to tighten correctly. Lumps of cue finish can be removed with a stanley knife or filed/sanded.
- Finally, if the above two points fail, tighten the joiner as much as you can. Place the cue down on the table & push on the joiner in the opposite direction to the variance. Untighten then tighten again.
- If these fail to bring it in <2mm or you would prefer to push for zero variance, proceed to a pressure adjustment.
B.) Pressure Adjustment – (VIDEO COMING SOON)
- Place cue on the table & with the hand on the cue butt approx. 20cm below the joiner, roll the cue until the tip lifts.
- You’re going to be turning the cue over & placing pressure on the joiner against the bending direction, so mark the side of the cue that is going to be placed face down, with a sticky dot or whatever is convenient.
- Turn the cue over, so that the bending side is now face down.
- Place a flat hand on the top shaft, close to the joiner so that when you lift the cue butt, the top shaft is flat on the table & not being bent.
- Grab the cue butt about half to one third of the way from the base with the other hand & pull upwards off the table.
- This scares most people at first as they think that the shaft or joiner area may snap. Until you get used to the surprising strength of cues in general & get comfortable with carrying out pressure adjustments, just make small adjustments over a sequence of days. This is better anyway, as it gives the timber more time to adjust & the adjustment is more likely to stay. Remember you’re only making millimetre adjustments anyway.
- Once you’ve got the cue straight, this is a minor check & adjustment you can do on a regular basis.
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.