Billiard, snooker and pool cue making
The making of cues for the games of billiards, snooker and pool.
|Historic area of significance|
|Area currently practised|
|Origin in the UK|
The craft developed from France with the original billiards game, carom. It has not changed majorly since the early 20th century when billiards cues became more commercial.
The name cue derives from ‘queue’ French for tail. The idea behind designing the first cue was to be able to hit the ball as centrally as possible.
Being able to understand wood, particularly grain patterning and behaviour, splicing woods together, hand planing and sanding.
The choice of material varies depending on the game and effect that the maker aspires to achieve – pool cues are often made out of maple wood, while snooker cues are usually made out of ash wood but with a maple shaft. The inside of the cue is inlayed with layers of wood, precious materials and stones. High quality inlays have no gaps, are symmetrical as well as cut cleanly on the sides. While the points are sharp and not rounded.
The internal design of cue sticks is layered and usually in a shape of a conical taper – wider at the bottom and narrower at the end. For example the anatomy of a pool cue consists of a shaft (tip, ferrule, taper of shaft), joint (shafts collar, butt collar) and butt (forewrap, points, wrap, sleeve, afterwrap, butt cap, bumper, and inlays)
The biggest differences are cues made for specific billiards games. English/Chinese pool and snooker cues do not differ immensely but they do differ from American pool cues which have a totally different making process.
- Joint and ferrule making
- Tip making
- Billiards table making
- Billiards ball making
Issues affecting the viability of the craft
- The craft is currently viable because there is a great deal of interest in it. However, many cue makers opt for Thai or Chinese manufactured cue blanks because it makes the process cheaper, more efficient, the materials are very good, and the workmanship (much of which is done by machine) is highly acceptable. These cues are considerably cheaper than entirely British-made cues. Companies in Thailand and China may in the next few years opt to produce cues under their own brands and become more sought-after than the current UK market leaders. If this happens then the craft in the UK could die out to be inherited by these overseas manufacturers.
- Some of the cue making processes are not widely practised here anymore, including by many of the leading brands, so those skills are not going to be passed on.
- Some wood species are being depleted.
Craftspeople currently known
- Robert Osborne
- Keith Hammant
- Johnny Carr
- Dave Coutts
- Mike Wooldridge
- James Butters
- Trevor White
- Tim Curtis
- Jason Owen
Businesses that employ two or more makers:
- Will Hunt, London
- John Parris
- Stamford Cues
- Master Craft
- Craftsman Cues
- Cue Craft