Graphite vs Wood Pool Cues: All the differences you need to know

The type of pool cue you buy can have a huge effect on how you play. There are many differences between graphite and wood pool cues. We will break it down and give you the right information so you can buy the right kind of cue for your game.

Everyone has different reasons for buying either a graphite or wood pool cue. This article is not meant to sway your purchasing decision, just to inform you of the pros and cons for each.

How to compare Graphite and Wood Pool Cues

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty and compare these pool cue types. 

Graphite Pros

  • Smooth
  • Doesn’t scratch easily
  • Stays cleaner than a wood shaft which can be difficult to keep clean, sealed & smooth with no scratches or dings
  • Easy and safe to clean with a damp towel
  • Doesn’t warp (even under temperature and humidity extremes so you can leave it in the trunk of your car in any weather)
  • Doesn’t ding when you hit balls, leave it up against furniture or drop it on a hard and dirty floor 
  • Inexpensive
  • Good for beginners (durable)

Graphite Cons

  • You can’t repair a graphite cue
  • Too stiff and gives you no feel
  • Shaft gets sticky after some time (No glide over your bridge)
  • Not as forgiving when shooting any sort of English, follow or draw
  • The hits don’t feel as solid

Wood Pros

  • Can be repaired if scratched or dinged
  • Gives you the real cue feel and sound
  • Shaft stays smooth
  • Good for beginners thru to professionals

Wood Cons

  • Can be expensive
  • Prone to warping (if not properly maintained)
  • Requires occasional cleaning/sanding
  • Can scratch or ding
  • Can’t store in the truck of your car (but really would you?)

What are Wood Pool Cues made of?

When we are discussing what pool cues are made of we are referring to the shaft of the cue. There are other parts of a pool cue that are also important but we will stick to the shaft itself here. 

Good quality wood pool cues are usually made from straight-grained hard maple or ash wood. Maple is usually stiffer than ash and is also cheaper. Of course there are plenty of other types of wood used in cues today so it’s impossible to go through them all here. Despite what many sellers will tell you, many of these beautiful pieces of wood aren’t that expensive.

What are Graphite Pool Cues made of?

Contrary to popular belief, graphite pool cues are not solid graphite or solid fiber. They are wood core with a fiber composite layer around the outside. Even though this is a thin layer, these cues are still very strong.

Some fiberglass cues have special finishes designed to help the cue glide through the bridge of your hand better. The protective coating is critical if you wish to use this type of cue without lots of hand chalk or a glove. Cheap graphite cues won’t have this protective coating and you will definitely feel the difference when playing a shot.

How to work out if a Pool Cue is Wood, Graphite or Fiberglass?

Simply looking at the texture of the shaft of a pool cue will quickly determine whether it’s wood or graphite/fiberglass. If it’s wood, you will be able to see the wood grain texture. This does not exist with graphite cues.

All other types of cues, whether they are graphite, fiberglass or carbon fiber are very difficult to tell apart as they are all composite materials.

Graphite, Fiberglass, Titanium and Carbon Fiber: Is there a difference?

Graphite, Fiberglass, Titanium and Carbon Fiber are terms that are commonly used when talking about materials used to manufacture a pool or billiard cue. Graphite in its raw form is a natural mineral and is a form of carbon. But in the world of pool, all these terms refer to a composite material, usually reinforced and mixed with resin. They are all fibers and refer to the same sort of composite material.

Titanium pool cues have also been popular in recent times. These cues are simply fiberglass cues with titanium reinforcement. Don’t be fooled into thinking that a titanium cue will always be stronger than a graphite or fiberglass cue. What is important is the way in which it’s made and the quality of the composite material used.

Hybrid Pool Cues

Hybrid pool cues include a wood shaft along with a graphite end (or butt). They allow the player to have the wood feel across a wood bridge when shooting but include a graphite or carbon fiber butt to make them stronger while allowing the manufacturer to get the weight right.

Other Considerations

When purchasing a pool cue, the stick material is only one part of the cue. The quality of the joint and cue tip are also important. Some tips can be hard or soft and can also be fixed or screw-in type. The quality of the ferrule (where the tip attaches to the stick) is also important.

A pool cue alone will not make you a better player. All good players will learn to adjust to and play well with any type of cue.

You should stick with one cue and spend time getting used to it. Don’t keep changing cues thinking a new or different cue will make you a better player.

Final Thoughts

Everyone has their own preference as to the type of pool cue that is right for their man cave. Once you buy a cue, stick with it and get used to the feel of it. Those that use wood cues swear by them and would never use a graphite cue.

You may want to have that special cue that you use and another tougher graphite stick for your friends to use. Your buddies won’t treat the cue with the same respect that you do so take that into consideration.

If you care how a cue looks, buy one that looks good to you. If you care how the hit of a cue sounds or feels, buy one that sounds and feels good to you.

My preference has always been a good quality wood cue. If you look after it then it should last many years without warping or getting dinged. A properly maintained, good quality cue should last 10+ years. 

If you need help deciding, go down to the local billiard store and ask to hit a few balls with each type. You’ll see and feel the difference and get a feel for what type you like.

Good Luck! Rack ‘em up!