Shopping for a pool cue can be daunting. There are endless designs, inlays, wraps, and materials used in their construction. Ideally you want a pool cue that fits your style, doesn’t break the bank and will play well for many years. This is why it’s important to know what wood is ideal for pool cue construction. So, I’ve decided to answer the question: Why are pool cues generally made of maple?
Pool cues are typically made of hard rock maple because it’s a strong, stiff, and inexpensive wood. This allows for a strong, durable cue that won’t easily warp or crack after years of striking cue balls. Other woods are often used, but maple is tried, true, and inexpensive when compared to exotic woods.
Pool Cue Materials
Although most pool cues are made from maple, there are plenty of other materials being used, too. Cue manufacturers are experimenting with different materials. Oftentimes the shaft of the pool cue is made from one material while the butt is made with another. Here are some other common materials you’ll see in cue construction.
- Brazilian rosewood
There are also several different kinds of maple used, such as black maple, spalted maple, and curly maple. Non-wood materials used in cue making include:
Why Cue Materials and Construction Are Important
Maple has been the go-to material, especially for pool cue shafts, because it holds up well to repeated use. When you think about it, pool cues take a beating. Cue balls weigh between 5.5 and 6 ounces and are generally made of incredibly hard phenolic resin or polyester. The weight of these balls may not seem like a lot, but when you consider how many times the cue strikes the ball over the course of its life, you’ll see how important materials and construction are.
Although it may not be readily visible to the human eye, cue sticks can warp slightly over time. When this happens, it becomes hard for the player to remain consistent in the game. Depending on which way he or she is holding the warped cue stick, the direction of the shot will be different.
This is one of the reasons that many players use dedicated cues specially made for breaking. Break cues are made with harder tips and sturdier shafts that are ideal for breaking but not for the finesse often required in gameplay. Since break shots require a little more power, using a dedicated cue allows players to save the stress on their playing cue.
Maple vs Fiberglass
Fiberglass cues are usually cheaper to make than wood cues. The synthetic material is often used to make community cues like those found in bars and pool halls. They are generally one-piece, as opposed to most maple cues, which are two-piece. However, they’re not only made of fiberglass. They often have a wood core inside. Fiberglass cues are ideal for casual players or those on a budget. But, when it comes down to maple vs fiberglass, there seems to be a clear winner.
Most players have one major gripe with fiberglass cues: the way they feel. There is a certain vibration to the fiberglass cue that experienced players don’t like. When compared to a maple cue, fiberglass seems to provide less control on shots that require spin or “English.” Plus, fiberglass cues tend to stick to the hand easier than maple cues do. This requires players to wear a glove or chalk their hands before every shot. For a more in-depth look, read my fiberglass vs wood cues article.
However, if you’re just getting started in pool, an inexpensive fiberglass cue may be the best for you. Some players actually prefer fiberglass over maple, although they seem to be in the minority. It’s best to try to get comfortable with both types and see which you like best.
Wood cues, even though they are coated and sealed, aren’t impervious to the weather. They can warp under certain circumstances. This is one of the reasons why composite materials have become popular in recent years: they don’t warp due to humidity or improper storage. However, it’s incredibly easy to keep a wood cue from warping with proper care and storage.
Proper Storage and Care for Maple Cues
It’s not all that hard to remember to care for your pool cue. In fact, this is why I suggest that people spend a bit of money if they’re looking to get a good maple cue. Nothing that will break the bank, but enough that you’re invested in the new cue. This helps ensure you’ll take care of it.
One of the worst things you can do is store your wood cue in your car’s trunk. The trunk is liable to experience extreme temperatures and humidity, which can warp the wood. Placing the cue in the trunk is fine to and from the pool hall, but simply take it into the house with you when you get home. Not leaving the cue outside is 95% of proper care.
The rest of cue care is common sense for most.
- Don’t bang the cue on anything. Avoid using it to hit anything but a cue ball.
- Invest in a hard case for it.
- Don’t leave it in direct sunlight for long periods.
- Don’t throw it or otherwise damage it.
Related Article: Why do Pool Cues Warp? (And How to Prevent It)
Best Maple Cues For the Money
To end this article, I’ll suggest a couple of the best maple cues of the money. One is a budget-friendly option while the other is a little more expensive. Take your pick!
Players C-960 Classic Crimson Bird’s Eye Maple
- A budget-friendly cue made by the well-respected cue make Players. This includes hard rock maple coated to resist warpage from the elements.
- Genuine Irish linen wrap.
- Guaranteed 100% straight.
- Lifetime warranty.
Related Article: Players C-960 Pool Cue Review: Is It Worth It?
Lucasi Custom Birds-Eye Maple Sneaky Pete Cue
- A low-deflection shaft from famous cue maker Lucasi.
- Wrapless handle with real inlays.
- Wood-to-wood joint for easy assembly and straight, soft shots.
- Comes with a layer leather Everest tip by tiger, ideal for all kinds of shots.
- Lifetime warranty.