The tip of your pool cue is arguably the most important part of the cue. It’s the only part that comes into contact with the cue ball. At least, I sincerely hope so. If it’s not, we’ve got a whole other issue! But seriously, the tip is important. So it’s common for players to ask: Do pool cue tips dry out?
While some tips may dry out over a long period, it’s not the moisture content of the tip that changes the way it plays. It’s how often you play, your style and shooting power, whether you trim your tip, and what kind of tip you have. So, even though some tips may dry out, it’s not something you should worry about. Instead, focus on taking good care of the tip.
Don’t Confuse a Dry Tip for One That’s Changing Due to Use
There are many factors that contribute to the wearing down of a pool cue tip. And, to be sure, a dry environment is one of them. But, when compared to all the damage a cue takes during the course of gameplay, the dryness of the cue tip is often secondary to mushrooming and density changes.
Most cues are made of leather. Some are made from layered leather, and others are made from non-layered leather. And although this leather is hard, it’s not nearly as hard as the cue ball (unless you have a jump/break cue with a phenolic resin tip).
So, your cue tip will wear down over time. And, as it does, it will likely seem as if it’s getting dryer. To be fair, it is. But as the leather crushes down on itself and the density increases, it gives the tip a dry feel and appearance. When you combine this with all the chalk you put on the cue tip as you play, it’s no wonder that the tip appears dry.
But, again, dryness is not really the problem.
When you first play with a new cue, it has some give, allowing for better ball control and a certain “feel” when tip meets cue ball. Then, as the tip wears down— which could take months or years, depending on many factors which we’ll cover below— it hardens, generally giving you less ball control and changing the feel of the shot.
So this is what many people mean when they say their tip has “dried out.” Luckily, there’s things you can do to address a “dry” cue tip.
What to Do About a “Dry” Cue Tip
As long as your tip isn’t worn down to near the ferrule, there’s a few things you can do to address it’s dryness. As it mushrooms down, you should trim it and scuff it to help it last a long time.
Trimming (also called shaping) the tip is important for accuracy. It keeps the surface area of the tip to where it should be to give you the best shots possible. But when people talk about a dry tip, they’re often talking about how it’s smooth and hard. This is where scuffing the tip comes in.
There are all kinds of tips out there about ways to scuff your cue tip. Some people use sandpaper and some people, in a pinch, use the rough surface of a brick wall or a concrete sidewalk. While sandpaper may be a decent option, I wouldn’t recommend using the other two options.
The best way to scuff your tip to help it hold chalk and give you more ball control is by using a tool that’s made for it.
This Bowtie Cue Tip Tool from Cuetec can help you scuff, shape, and aerate your tips to help maintain them. Using the scuffer and the aerator when appropriate can help keep your cue tip from “drying out” by giving the tip some rough surface area after it has been worn down by gameplay.
Tip Use Factors
There are several factors that affect how the tip functions and how long it lasts. We covered them a bit above, but let’s take a deeper look at them now.
- Tip Quality
- Tip Hardness/Material
- Player’s Style
- Player Preference
- Consistency of Play
- Tip Care
Tip quality will obviously affect how the tip plays and whether it dries out quickly. For more info on this, check out this tip-buying guide.
Most standard cue tips are of medium hardness. But density varies from company to company. Still, medium gives the best of all worlds for most players. How you care for the tip (trimming and shaping) is a big part of how long it will play well for you.
If you put a bunch of power into every shot, you’re going to wear down your tip quickly. There’s no doubt about it. The tip will seem to dry out quickly as it wears down and gets harder. If you use more finesse, you won’t have to replace or care for your tip as often.
There are a lot of players out there who replace their tips like clockwork because they know exactly what they want. They’re used to a certain consistency from their tip and don’t want to deal with it “drying out.”
Some players insist that being able to play with a cue even after it has worn down a bit is the mark of a professional. Others think you should keep doing what you’re comfortable with. And if you’re willing to spend the money to replace your tips every few months, more power to you!
Consistency of Play
How often you play definitely has an effect on the tip. And unless you leave your cue stick laying out in the sun, you won’t have to worry about it drying out without use. Keep the cue in the house when you’re not using it and it won’t magically dry out.
I already covered this above, but it bears repeating. Tips wear down as you use them. You can care for your tip properly or you can simply replace it when it’s no longer hitting like you want it to.
As a tip wears down, it can seem like it’s drying out. More often this is just the natural wear of the tip. If you buy a new tip and put it on your cue but only end up playing with it a few times over the course of a year, it’s not going to dry out and become unusable. Unless, of course, you leave the cue outside. But if you do that, you’ll probably need a whole new cue stick.
Take proper care of the cue tip and you’ll keep it from “drying out,” thereby extending its lifespan.