Author Topic: Making Pool Cues  (Read 2810 times)

Offline Hugh Currin

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Making Pool Cues
« on: May 17, 2023, 03:49:50 AM »
I've been taken down another rabbit hole. This one to build a "nice" cue stick for billiards. I play so poorly I know I'd feel foolish walking into a pool hall with a very nice cue. But, if I built one myself it would be more a talking point than my pool play. SO, a plunge into another rabbit hole.

This one has been fun though. Turns out cue making is a pleasant cross between wood working and machining. Some very tight tolerances for wood working on the order of  a few thousands, but for machining pretty loose tolerances of a few thousands.

The process involves cutting long tapers in wood. The best machine for this would be a metal lathe with a router (or high speed spindle) on the tool post. The stock is rotated slowly while the router cuts the stock as the lathe carriage is used for feed. An offset tailstock, or better a tapper attachment, or best yet cnc sets the shape of the taper. Variations of this for "points". Then some "accurate" joint machining in a 3 (or 4 jaw) in the lathe. An accurate cnc router with a fourth axis would work well also.

I jigged up the Sherline lathe on my cnc converted knee mill. This as I don't have a long bed cnc lathe or cnc router. This worked well but the 42" table (and somewhat less travel is challenging). Also set up a dividing head for cutting "Vs" for points.




So far I've built one test cue of maple and walnut. The machine and process seems good, although improvement is needed here and there. I'm real happy with this for a first attempt.












So far it's been a fun building experience. I'll likely make one or two more this fall using more exotic woods. But right now we're traveling, headed for South Dakota, then Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, & Nevada. Hopefully I'll have the Internet to follow the forum. Fall cues and, with luck, an engine during the winter.

Thanks all.

Hugh

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Re: Making Pool Cues
« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2023, 03:55:12 AM »
Great work!  How did you do the curvy design with the multiple colors?  Same on the  stripe in the diamonds?  Did you machine your own hardware  for the joints?  Very cool, and enjoy your travels!

Online Kim

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Re: Making Pool Cues
« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2023, 05:49:28 AM »
Wow! You should feel pretty happy about that result!  Very nice. 

Those inlays (or whatever it is) are really nice.  And is that some kind of string you've wrapped around the end to get that nice grip part?

Now I know who to come to for a custom pool cue (when I take up pool, that is!)   :ROFL:

Kim

Offline Jo

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Re: Making Pool Cues
« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2023, 07:00:10 AM »
Very nice  8)

Jo
Enjoyment is more important than achievement.

Offline Hugh Currin

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Re: Making Pool Cues
« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2023, 03:32:30 PM »
Great work!  How did you do the curvy design with the multiple colors?  Same on the  stripe in the diamonds?  Did you machine your own hardware  for the joints?  Very cool, and enjoy your travels!

The strips of color are from colored veneer, 0.03" thin poplar wood. The points are made by cutting a 90deg V slot into the forearm, from zero at the point to deep/wide at the base. Then layers of veneer are laid in and covered with the point blank, in this case walnut. It's all epoxied together and them turned back to final diameter. That exposes the strips of veneer as an outline of the point.

The curvy section in the butt is called a Celtic Knot borrowed from wood pen turnering. I've never turned a pen but found it on the Internet. A square block is cut at 45deg almost through. Then the slot is filled with another material, in my case the same veneers as the points, and glued into place. The block is sanded square and slot are similarly completed for all four sides. The square block is turned round and this pattern emerges. Lots of tutorials on YouTube.

I didn't make the shaft (front part) as that is most critical and big manufacturers use some high tech methods. So I bought a shaft from Cuetec. Upon inspection I found the pin (the threaded steel piece that holds the shaft to the handle) isn't the 3/8-14 thread they advertise. It's most like a 9mm-14TPI that you can't buy. So ya, I had to make the pin. At least the threads are TPI which was good for me.

Thank for looking in.
Hugh

Offline Hugh Currin

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Re: Making Pool Cues
« Reply #5 on: May 17, 2023, 03:53:17 PM »
Wow! You should feel pretty happy about that result!  Very nice. 

Those inlays (or whatever it is) are really nice.  And is that some kind of string you've wrapped around the end to get that nice grip part?

Kim: The string is a common handle material for pool cues. It's an Irish Linen and the material can be purchased for pool cues. It's wrapped around the cue in a recessed section and then "pressed". Pressing involves wetting and then starching the threads and using a linen press. The press is most like a scissor knurl and, in the lathe, heats and presses the strings flat. (I used two flap pieces of oak hinged together.)

The points are a little different from inlays as thought of for pool cues. Inlays are pockets cut 0.1" or so into the surface of the cue and filled with a matching inlay before turning to final size. In the modern age that's a small CNCed pocket with likely "sharp" corners. The endmills used are on the order of 0.02" diameter to get the "sharp" corners. It's in wood but those are tiny.

I'll try this type of inlay but I think I need a better spindle first. I've used a trim router as an auxiliary spindle on my knee mill so far. It's worked well but I suspect the run out of an inexpensive router would snap these little tools instantly. Have wanted a high speed auxiliary spindle for my mill for years and this is likely the nudge to get one.

Thanks for the encouragement.
Hugh

Offline Hugh Currin

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Re: Making Pool Cues
« Reply #6 on: May 17, 2023, 03:53:53 PM »
Hugh

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Re: Making Pool Cues
« Reply #7 on: May 17, 2023, 04:03:44 PM »
Great work!  How did you do the curvy design with the multiple colors?  Same on the  stripe in the diamonds?  Did you machine your own hardware  for the joints?  Very cool, and enjoy your travels!

The strips of color are from colored veneer, 0.03" thin poplar wood. The points are made by cutting a 90deg V slot into the forearm, from zero at the point to deep/wide at the base. Then layers of veneer are laid in and covered with the point blank, in this case walnut. It's all epoxied together and them turned back to final diameter. That exposes the strips of veneer as an outline of the point.

The curvy section in the butt is called a Celtic Knot borrowed from wood pen turnering. I've never turned a pen but found it on the Internet. A square block is cut at 45deg almost through. Then the slot is filled with another material, in my case the same veneers as the points, and glued into place. The block is sanded square and slot are similarly completed for all four sides. The square block is turned round and this pattern emerges. Lots of tutorials on YouTube.

I didn't make the shaft (front part) as that is most critical and big manufacturers use some high tech methods. So I bought a shaft from Cuetec. Upon inspection I found the pin (the threaded steel piece that holds the shaft to the handle) isn't the 3/8-14 thread they advertise. It's most like a 9mm-14TPI that you can't buy. So ya, I had to make the pin. At least the threads are TPI which was good for me.

Thank for looking in.
Thanks for the info on the striping, never seen the knot method before, clever!

Offline RReid

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Re: Making Pool Cues
« Reply #8 on: May 17, 2023, 06:51:18 PM »
That's a slick looking pool cue, Hugh. Some interesting techniques involved, and I really like your set-up of the Sherline on the knee mill. Have a good time on your multi-state tour! :cheers:
Regards,
Ron

Offline bent

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Re: Making Pool Cues
« Reply #9 on: May 18, 2023, 06:45:38 PM »
Very cool.  And yeah, the description of the celtic knot detail is very intriguing, seems like it could be replicated in metal as well.

Offline Hugh Currin

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Re: Making Pool Cues
« Reply #10 on: May 19, 2023, 02:52:55 AM »
That's a slick looking pool cue, Hugh. Some interesting techniques involved, and I really like your set-up of the Sherline on the knee mill. Have a good time on your multi-state tour! :cheers:

Thanks Ron. I bought a straight "bed" from Sherline as a part from their "cue lathe". It's simply a bed for the tailstock and needs to be aligned with the headstock. I made a few aluminum blocks with the protrusions and slots to hold the headstock. It worked well.

Thanks. We're now in Montrose CO headed north. :-)
Hugh

Offline Hugh Currin

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Re: Making Pool Cues
« Reply #11 on: May 19, 2023, 03:01:01 AM »
Very cool.  And yeah, the description of the celtic knot detail is very intriguing, seems like it could be replicated in metal as well.

Wow, I hadn't considered a metal one. Contrasting metals like SS and brass or AL and copper. Accurate slots would be tricky using multi passes with, maybe, a slitting saw. Silver solder or maybe epoxy could work. Need to bond all the way through. A smaller size, like for jewelry would be fun to try.

Let us know how it comes out, it could be way cool.

Thanks.
Hugh

Offline bent

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Re: Making Pool Cues
« Reply #12 on: May 19, 2023, 04:14:31 PM »
Yeah, I was thinking solder too...though epoxy would likely work fine for something not needing much strength...

Online crueby

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Re: Making Pool Cues
« Reply #13 on: May 19, 2023, 05:11:46 PM »
For colored lines on kayak decks, a technique that  I've used is to  mix clear epoxy with some pigment powder made for artists paint to color it, and put that into grooves. Let dry and sand flush. Should work for decorative  lines on metal too.

Offline Hugh Currin

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Re: Making Pool Cues
« Reply #14 on: May 20, 2023, 12:47:55 AM »
For colored lines on kayak decks, a technique that  I've used is to  mix clear epoxy with some pigment powder made for artists paint to color it, and put that into grooves. Let dry and sand flush. Should work for decorative  lines on metal too.

I've done that with V carved lettering (F-Engrave) filled with colored epoxy. May just have been JB Weld though. Sanded smooth it came out very nice. They make powdered coloring for for epoxy.


I'd really like to do the same on a pool cue but: 1) I need a fourth axis which is workable and will likely be done in the fall and 2) somehow hold the epoxy in place on a cylinder while it cures. Details, always details.
Hugh

 

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