Material Matters: What Cues are Made of and How it Impacts Your Game

As a billiards enthusiast, I know that the pool cue is one of the most important pieces of equipment in the game. Without a good cue, it’s nearly impossible to make accurate shots and win games. But have you ever stopped to think about what cues are made of? In this article, I’ll provide a brief overview of the materials used to make pool cues, as well as the evolution of these materials over time.

Traditionally, pool cues were made from a single piece of wood, typically maple or ash. These days, however, you can find cues made from a variety of materials, including carbon fiber, fiberglass, and even titanium. While some of these materials are frowned upon by purists in the billiards community, they do offer advantages such as increased durability and resistance to warping.

Over the years, cue makers have experimented with a wide range of materials in an effort to create the perfect cue. Some of these materials have proven to be more successful than others, but the quest for the ultimate cue continues. In the following sections, I’ll take a closer look at the most common materials used to make pool cues, as well as some of the pros and cons of each.

Historical Perspective of Cue Materials

When billiards was first introduced, cues were made from hardwoods such as ash, hickory, and oak. These woods were readily available, and their hardness made them ideal for use in cues. However, the limited availability and types of materials meant that cue makers had to work with what they had, and cues were often made from whatever wood was available.

As technology advanced, new materials were introduced, and the manufacturing process changed. Today, most pool cues are made from maple wood, which is prized for its strength and durability. Maple is also a relatively light wood, which makes it easy to work with and allows for greater control over the cue ball.

Exotic woods such as ebony, rosewood, and cocobolo are also popular choices for cue makers. These woods are prized for their beauty and unique characteristics, but they are also more expensive and harder to work with than maple.

Advances in technology have also led to the introduction of new materials such as carbon fiber and fiberglass. These materials are lighter and stronger than wood, and they offer greater control and accuracy. However, most players still prefer the feel and tradition of a wooden cue.

Anatomy of a Cue

As a pool player, I understand the importance of a good cue. A well-crafted cue can make a significant difference in the way you play the game. Here’s what I’ve learned about the anatomy of a cue.

Cue Tip

The tip of a pool cue is the part that makes contact with the cue ball. It is usually made of treated and compressed leather, which can be soft, medium, or hard. The size of the tip ranges from 11.75 mm to 14 mm in diameter, with the standard size being 13 mm. A soft tip provides more control, while a hard tip gives more power. Layered tips are also available, which consist of multiple layers of leather, providing better control and consistency.


The ferrule is the small band located between the shaft and the tip of the cue. Its purpose is to protect the shaft from damage caused by the impact of the cue ball. Ferrules can be made of various materials, including ivory, thermoset plastics, and other synthetics.


The shaft is the long, narrow part of the cue that connects the butt to the tip. Traditional wooden shafts are made of maple or ash and have their unique characteristics. Maple is known for its stiffness and durability, while ash is more flexible. Fiberglass and carbon fiber shafts are also available, which offer advantages such as increased accuracy and reduced deflection.


The joint is the point where the shaft and butt of the cue connect. It is essential to cue construction as it allows for easy assembly and disassembly. Joints can be made of various materials, including stainless steel, phenolic resin, and wood-to-wood joints.


The butt is the thicker and heavier part of the cue that rests against the player’s hand. It is essential for balance and aesthetics. Butts can be made of exotic woods, and they can feature inlays and decals. Rubber, leather wraps, and other grip materials are also available to provide a comfortable grip.

What Cues Are Made Of?

When it comes to cue construction, there are several materials used to create cues. Each material has its own unique properties that can affect the cue’s performance. In this section, I will discuss some of the most popular materials used in cue construction.


Maple is the most common wood used in cue making. It is known for its durability, strength, and straight grain. Canadian maple is considered the gold standard in cue making due to its consistent quality. Ash is another popular wood used in snooker cues. It has a more flexible feel than maple, which is preferred by some players. Exotic woods such as cocobolo and ebony are also used for high-end cues due to their unique beauty.


Fiberglass is a popular synthetic material used in cue construction. It is known for its durability and resistance to warping. Carbon fiber is another popular material used in cue construction. It is lightweight and robust, making it a preferred choice for performance cues. Acrylic and resin are also used for decorative purposes.


Stainless steel is a common metal used in cue construction. It is often used in joints for strength and durability. Aluminum is a lighter alternative to stainless steel and is used for joint reinforcement. However, aluminum pool cues are generally frowned upon by the majority of the authentic pool playing community due to their sensitivity to temperature, which can cause them to bend over time.

The Impact of Material on Cue Performance

I know that the type of material a cue is made of can have a significant impact on performance. From power shots to low maintenance, the material of a cue can make all the difference in a game. In this section, I will explore the impact of material on cue performance and what you should consider when choosing a cue.

Weight and Balance

The materials used to make a cue can affect its overall weight and balance. For example, a heavy pool cue can be more stable and provide more power for shots. However, a lighter weight cue can provide a more comfortable grip and be easier to control during play. Additionally, the balance point of a cue can affect shot precision. A cue with a balance point closer to the tip can provide more control for finesse shots, while a cue with a balance point closer to the butt can provide more power for breaking and long shots.

Flexibility and Stiffness

The choice between wood and synthetic materials can affect the flexibility and stiffness of a cue. Wood cues can provide a more natural feel and flex, while synthetic cues can be stiffer and provide more consistency in shot control. The stiffness of a cue can affect the amount of cue ball control, with stiffer cues providing more accuracy for shots that require more spin.

Durability and Maintenance

The lifespan of a cue can vary depending on the materials used to make it. Synthetic cues can be more durable and require less maintenance, while wood cues may require more upkeep to maintain their integrity. It is important to consider the maintenance requirements of a cue to ensure its longevity and performance over time.

Innovations in Cue Materials

As technology advances, so do the materials used to make pool cues. In recent years, there have been several innovative advancements in cue materials that have improved the performance of cues.

One such advancement is the use of nanotechnology in cue tips. By using tiny particles, cue tips can be made to have better grip on the ball, resulting in more accurate shots. This technology has been incorporated into many high-end cue tips, such as the 58-inch hardwood tip.

Another innovation is the use of aerodynamic designs to reduce friction. This is particularly useful in fiberglass graphite cues, such as the 2-piece fiberglass graphite cue, which can be prone to friction due to their material. By reducing friction, players can achieve a smoother stroke and more consistent shots.

Hybrid cues are also becoming more popular, combining different materials for optimized performance. Notable brands and models in hybrid cue design include the blue titanium stick, which features a titanium core for added strength and durability, and a graphite outer layer for increased accuracy.

The Expensive: Is It Worth It?

When it comes to pool cues, there is a wide range of prices to choose from. Some cues can cost as little as $25, while others can cost over $1,000. But what exactly makes an expensive cue worth the investment?

Firstly, expensive pool cues are often made with higher quality materials. These materials can include exotic woods, such as ebony or cocobolo, or high-tech materials, such as carbon fiber. These materials can improve the cue’s durability, accuracy, and feel.

Secondly, expensive cues often come with additional features, such as intricate designs or customizations. These features can add to the cue’s aesthetic appeal and make it a unique piece of equipment.

However, it’s important to note that not all expensive cues are created equal. Some cues may be heavy-weight, which can be beneficial for players who prefer a heavier cue. Others may be light cues, which can be easier to handle and maneuver.

Ultimately, whether an expensive pool cue is worth the investment depends on the individual player’s preferences and needs. It’s important to try out different cues and find one that feels comfortable and suits your playing style.

Environmental and Ethical Considerations

I believe that it is important to consider the environmental and ethical implications of the materials used to make cues.

Sustainable Harvesting

One of the primary concerns with cue materials is the impact of wood sourcing on the environment. Many cues, especially those made from exotic woods, are harvested from endangered or threatened species. As someone who cares about the environment, I believe that it is important to support cue makers who use sustainably sourced woods or alternative materials.

Synthetic Alternatives

Synthetic materials such as carbon fiber and fiberglass are becoming increasingly popular in cue construction. Not only do these materials offer benefits for the environment, but they also provide players with a more consistent and durable cue.

When it comes to ethical considerations, the use of ivory in cue construction is a controversial topic. Many professional players still prefer cues made with ivory, but the use of this material is illegal in many countries and has a negative impact on elephant populations. As someone who cares about animal welfare, I believe that it is important to support cue makers who use alternative materials such as resin or bone.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, you already know what cues are made of and it does have a significant impact on the environment and animal welfare. By supporting cue makers who use sustainably sourced woods or alternative materials, we can help minimize this impact and ensure that the game of pool remains enjoyable for generations to come. As cue technology continues to evolve, I look forward to seeing new materials and designs that prioritize both performance and sustainability.


Can you provide more information on the advantages of carbon fiber cues?

Certainly! Here are some additional advantages of carbon fiber cues:

  • Enhanced Stiffness: Carbon fiber is an incredibly strong and rigid material. When used in cue construction, it provides a higher level of stiffness compared to traditional materials like wood. This increased stiffness translates to improved power and accuracy in shots. Carbon fiber cues allow for more efficient energy transfer, resulting in a crisper hit and reduced deflection.
  • Reduced Deflection: Deflection, also known as cue ball squirt, is the slight deviation of the cue ball’s path due to the cue’s contact offset. Carbon fiber cues are designed to minimize deflection, allowing for more precise shot-making. The rigidity of carbon fiber helps reduce the amount of cue ball squirt, enabling players to apply English (sidespin) with more accuracy.
  • Increased Durability: Carbon fiber is highly resistant to warping, dents, and scratches, making carbon fiber cues exceptionally durable. Unlike wooden cues, carbon fiber cues are less susceptible to environmental changes such as temperature and humidity, which can affect the straightness and performance of the cue over time. Additionally, carbon fiber cues are less prone to chipping and cracking, ensuring a longer lifespan compared to traditional cues.
  • Consistent Performance: Carbon fiber cues offer greater consistency in performance. Wood cues can vary in terms of weight, balance, and taper due to natural variations in the wood grain. In contrast, carbon fiber cues are manufactured with precise specifications, resulting in consistent weight, balance, and taper across different cues of the same model. This consistency allows players to develop a more reliable and repeatable stroke.
  • Lighter Weight: Carbon fiber cues are typically lighter than traditional wooden cues. This lighter weight can be advantageous for players who prefer a faster stroke or have a preference for cues with less mass. The reduced weight of carbon fiber cues can also minimize fatigue during extended playing sessions.

What are some disadvantages of carbon fiber cues compared to wooden cues?

While carbon fiber cues offer numerous advantages, there are also a few disadvantages to consider when comparing them to wooden cues:

  1. Cost: Carbon fiber cues tend to be more expensive than wooden cues. The manufacturing process and the high-quality materials used in carbon fiber cues contribute to their higher price point. Wooden cues, especially those made from more common types of wood, are generally more affordable.
  2. Feel and Feedback: Some players prefer the traditional feel and feedback of wooden cues. Wood has a natural warmth and organic quality that some find more aesthetically pleasing and comfortable to play with. Carbon fiber cues, although incredibly rigid and precise, may lack the same tactile experience and character that wooden cues offer.
  3. Customization Options: Wooden cues often provide more customization options compared to carbon fiber cues. Wood can be shaped, stained, and finished in various ways, allowing for a wide range of unique designs and personalization. Carbon fiber cues, on the other hand, typically have a more streamlined and uniform appearance due to their manufacturing process.
  4. Weight Distribution: Wooden cues can be more versatile in terms of weight distribution. Players can sometimes adjust the weight of wooden cues by adding or removing weight bolts in the butt end. Carbon fiber cues, on the other hand, often have a fixed weight distribution due to the construction process. While carbon fiber cues may come in different weights, the distribution of weight is usually predetermined and cannot be easily modified.
  5. Tradition and Heritage: Wooden cues have a long-standing tradition and history in the game of billiards. Many professional players and enthusiasts appreciate the craftsmanship and heritage associated with wooden cues. Carbon fiber cues, being a relatively newer innovation, may not carry the same nostalgic or sentimental value for some players.

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