Understanding Pool Cue Construction and Why it Matters to your Game

Snooker Pool Cue Construction

How your pool cue is constructed can be a major factor when trying to improve your game. Not all pool cues are made the same.

Pool cue construction has changed drastically over the years. Today’s pool cues are made very differently to those built decades ago.

Understanding how they are made can help you understand the type of cue “YOU” require in order to better your game. Even if you are a beginner, learning with the right cue will help your game drastically.

Once you have purchased a pool cue, you want to ensure that it will last with proper maintenance.

Differences between a Pool Cue, Billiard Cue & Snooker Cue

The main difference between a pool cue, billiard cue and snooker cue is the cue tip. Pool and billiard cue tips have a diameter of 15/32” (12mm) – 33/64” (13mm) while snooker cues have smaller tips, roughly 23/64” (9mm) – 13/32/” (10.5mm) in diameter.

The difference in tip size is because of the difference in size and weight of the cue ball. Pool balls are larger and heavier in size compared to snooker cue balls. Pool cues are typically built more robust to handle striking a heavier cue ball.

Apart from the tip, there aren’t many other differences between poo, billiard and snooker cues. All three are the same cue length 57” – 58” and the overall weight is roughly the same 19oz – 21oz.

Cue materials can also vary greatly, from wood cues, to fiberglass and also hybrid cues. Choosing the right one is an important decision as it will affect your game play.

It is also sensible to know the different parts of a cue.

Early Days of Cue Construction

Cue construction, even in the early days, was more an art than a science. Billiard cues, even going back to the early maces, were probably the most artistic of all the items associated with the game itself. Early maces were hand carved ivory and inlaid jewels and gold. They were probably worth as much as the whole table itself.

With the advances made in industry in the 1800s cues were not only made beautifully but they could now be mass produced in a variety of styles. Probably the greatest cue manufacturer of the era was B. Finck Company. It was said that their cues in both beauty and quality was unequaled by anyone. Their cues were used by the finest players in Europe. 

By 1879 Finck had more than 160 cues in its catalog. They made both one and two piece cues in many designs and styles. They even made cues that were designed for specific games and for all levels of society, from the lowest commoner to the highest in royalty. They also specialized in what were called “cues for kings.” These cues were extremely expensive, made with inlaid gold and very rare gems. Most of the cues were actually purchased by the kings as more of a status symbol and were very rarely used in actual play. Finck also created custom cues which were awarded as prizes in various tournaments across the land.

Since Finck, many other famous cue makers came onto the scene including Britner, Rambow, Paradise, Balner, Martin, Szamboti and Balabushka. All of these companies, even today, make cues that are considered a symbol of excellence and are valued as true treasures.

There are many variations in the cues that are made. They are dictated by the game itself. For example, billiard cues are stiffer than pool cues because billiard balls are heavier than pool balls. Other variations include the type of wood that is used which will determine how light or heavy the cue itself is, as some prefer a heavier cue to a lighter one.

A good part of the reason that billiard cues were able to be made so well and attractive was the art of marquetry, which is the art of making designs or pictures with thin pieces of wood, shell or other materials. This art has been a part of billiard cue making almost right from the beginning. Floral, geometric or other inlaid designs have greatly added to the beauty of tables and cues. Precious gems and metals have also been used in this art. Even the art of “finishing,” which Stradavari used on his violins, was also used on cues and tables.

What is a Sneaky Pete Cue?

Sneaky Pete cues are quite often used by professional players. They are designed to look like a poorly made cue when in actual fact, they are expertly made. Thinking that your opponent is using a cheap cue meant that you would underestimate their playing ability and be susceptible to being hustled. Sneaky Pete cues are quite often called Hustle Style cues for this very reason.

Final Thoughts

Knowing how a pool cue is constructed will help you buy the right kind of cue and will help you become a better player, but it won’t make you a professional overnight. As you game improves and you become more comfortable playing, it makes sense to own different types of cues, for different types of games played. Once you’re bought a cue then learn how to hold it. It makes sense to buy a snooker cue only if you plan on playing snooker.