English Amateur Billiards Association

EABA : The Billiard Monthly : August, 1911

The Billiard Monthly : August, 1911

The Billiard Cue

By J. P. Buchanan in The Field

The great majority of amateur billiard players possess
no very exact or sound knowledge as to the points of a
good cue, and, as so very much depends upon the cue,
which, as has been very truly said, really makes the stroke
in all billiards worthy of the name, I propose to outline
briefly the chief points to be borne in mind when purchasing
one. It must be explained, in the first place, that
“butted” billiard cues are manufactured in two different
ways. In the French-butted machine-made cue the ash
shaft and the solid ebony butt are both shaped so as to
dovetail into one another, and are then run together with
glue. In the English-butted hand-made cue the ebony (or
other wood selected for the butt) is glued in four sections
to the squared ash cue butt, and the whole is then planed
into proper shape. Thus in the English-butted hand-made
cue the ash shaft runs right through the butt, the whole
length of the cue, this materially assisting the player in the
matter of” touch.” French-butted and English-butted cues
may at once be distinguished by simply looking at the
points of the ebony butt. If these four points run to a
very fine, sharp point, the cue is a French-butted one, but,
if they are slightly rounded, then the cue is an English butted
hand-made article. As may be gathered from the
foregoing remarks, a best English-butted cue is the one to

The shaft of the cue should be of English, not foreign,
ash, and it is of the highest importance that the wood used
should be thoroughly well seasoned. Hence it is advisable
to patronise the very best makers, who, it may be added,
naturally employ the most highly skilled cue makers. A
novice can hardly make a mistake in selecting a cue that
has evidently been a year or two in stock; if in that time
it has not warped out of truth, it is pretty sure to be seasoned
and sound.

There are some very important points to be noted in the
matter of this ash shaft of the cue. In the first place,
there should always be plenty of wood in the shoulder of
the cue, viz., just above the ebony points. This helps to
balance the cue, and in some degree to make it rigid and
stiff at the fore-end, an extremely essential matter, for the
cue must not on meeting the cue ball bend or give way in
the slightest degree. Then the cue must not only be as
straight as possible from tip to butt end, but true in its
taper, and, as far as possible, straight in the grain, though
a piece of ash that is perfectly straight in the grain is a
very great rarity indeed.

The length of the cue must next be discussed, and in
this connection I have seen some very amusing things in
print. Nearly all the old books on billiards placed the best
average length of cue at 4ft. 9in., and in so doing were
correct to a fraction of an inch. This is, indeed, the very
best length of cue for all players, except only the very
tallest, who may be left to suit their height and reach in
the matter. Most of the books just referred to, however,
put the cue’s inclusive measurements at from 4ft. 7in. to
4ft 11in., a needlessly wide, and, from a practical standpoint,
quite incorrect margin on either side. Years of practice
and study in this little matter have unalterably convinced
me that the cue should never be shorter than 4ft.
8½ in.; nor need it, except for the very few exceptionally tall
men just alluded to, ever exceed 4ft. 9½ in.

Cue tips, being made in. France, are sized by their diameter
in millimetres, viz., 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13. Sizes 11
(a medium tip) and 12 are the only two that need be used
for billiard cues.

One last piece of advice. Never use sandpaper or glasspaper
to clean a cue. A damp duster, followed by the brisk
use of a dry one, will not only clean the cue, but will put
a beautiful natural polish on it as well. The ideal weight
for a cue is 15½oz.

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