A pool stick is a tool-nothing more, nothing less. And like other tools, it requires some care and maintenance to perform optimally and live a long life.
While you wouldn’t leave your metal tools out in the weather to get rusty and tarnished, neither should you leave your pool cue in a similar situation. Leaving your stick in an extremely hot or cold car for a length of time can easily cause it serious damage. Direct sunlight can be brutal to a pool cue over time.
Most pool cues are made from laminated wood which can delaminate, warp, expand and contract in excessive humidity, heat and cold. Constant temperature change can also affect the bond between the wood and metal parts of the pool stick such as the joints and rings. Wood and metal expand and contract at different rates and can become loose and disconnected from each other.
Storing your pool cues at average room temperature and avoiding excessive humidity and/or dryness is the best way to go. Avoid keeping them in an attic or cellar. Wood may feel very hard and durable, but it can react badly to improper care.
Storing your home pool sticks in a wall rack if fine. If, however, you travel to play pool and billiards much, a good, strong pool cue case is absolutely imperative. I prefer a hard case with a well-padded interior. A soft case just won’t protect the stick from dropping or crushing damage.
As mentioned, storing sticks upright in a wall rack is OK, but leaning them against a wall is a definite mistake. It won’t take long to warp a stick that is left this way. As we all know, a warped stick is no fun to play with.
Proper pool stick care should also apply to the finish of your cue. Your stick gets handled a lot in the course of its life and the finish will eventually begin to wear off. An occasional cleaning with a damp, soapy, soft cloth followed immediately by a dry wipe with a different soft cloth will help to remove surface oils and dirt. Hand chalk, skin oils, cigarette smoke, alcohol and other environmental pollutants all work constantly to harm the fine finish on that cue.
Avoid excessive rubbing of the shaft with Scotch-Brite or other abrasives as this will cause premature wear on the shaft. Depending on how much pool you play, an occasional cleaning will help keep the shaft and butt of the stick in the best condition possible. Naturally, the more you play, the more you need to clean the stick.
After the pool cue is clean and dry, apply a thin coat of a good furniture polish or wax to protect the finish and wood.
If your shaft should acquire a dent, it can usually be gently removed. Apply a small amount of saliva or water to the dent repeatedly over time until the wood grain expands back to shape and the dent disappears. If the dent is quite deep it may be necessary to steam out the dent very carefully. This may cause the surrounding wood grain to raise some. Smooth it carefully with some Scotch-Brite until it is smooth again. If in doubt, take it to a pro.
Joint protectors are a good investment. They protect the joint of the stick from damage and help prevent moisture and contaminants from entering the joint areas.
A tip tool is another worthwhile item to keep your cue tips in top working order. I have one with an abrasive shaping surface on one end and a tip pick on the other. The abrasive surface allows me to keep a proper rounded shape to the tip and the tip pick roughs up the tip to allow it to better hold chalk.
Probably the most basic and sensible facet of pool stick care is to just treat your pool cue nicely. Don’t bang it around and drop it on the floor or the pool table. Watch out for the drinks and dirt which will inevitably find their way on to your favorite cue if you aren’t careful.
A good pool cue can make the difference between you being a stud or a dud on the pool table. With the proper care and maintenance, it can last for thousands of pool games and decades of time. Take good care of your pool sticks – you won’t regret it!