You’ve finally got the man cave of your dreams and have even managed to convince the Mrs to let you have a pool table. Now it’s time to focus on the finer details… Choosing the best pool cues. Pool cues are not all created equal, and the type you choose depends on several different factors. Today we will look at graphite pool cues vs wood, explain the differences and give you a really great idea of what is right for you!
Graphite Pool Cues
Ok, graphite pool cues are a little bit space age, and they look super cool. Here’s everything you need to know.
What is a Graphite Pool Cue?
Graphite is a naturally occurring form of carbon. It is used in a whole manner of applications, from aeroplanes to electronics and everything in between.
But let’s talk pool cues.
Graphite pool cues are considered much more durable than their wooden counterparts. Graphite doesn’t absorb moisture, so it tends to avoid the common problems you’d get with the traditional wooden variety.
As graphite is carbon, it is pretty stiff and strong stuff. You’ll be able to feel the difference when you are playing!
How is a Graphite Pool Cue Made?
Graphite cues aren’t a solid stick of graphite…
Back in the days, they would be made by wrapping a graphite sleeve around a wooden core. Due to its rigidity, the graphite sleeve would hold the cue straight. However, as manufacturers started using cheaper cores, the cues eventually started to warp.
In today’s modern cues, you’ll still get the graphite sleeve. However, this is now injected with high-density foam. This gives the cue the necessary structure and rigidity. It also makes them pretty lightweight and durable!
Here’s a quick video where you can see a cross-section of a graphite pool cue:-
Graphite Pool Cues | Advantages
Graphite cues: –
- Are less prone to warping
- Are more durable
- Don’t ‘ding’ or chip if dropped
- Are slightly lighter than wooden cues
- Can be adjusted in weight and balance
- Can be cheaper than wood
Graphite Pool Cues | Disadvantages
Graphite cues: –
- Reduce the ‘feel’ of your shots
- Tend to accumulate dirt and oil more quickly… Leading them to ‘stick.’
- Are irreparable if they bend or get chipped
Wood Pool Cues
Sometimes you just want to stick to the tried and tested technology. Wooden cues can be a great choice but need some careful consideration. Here’s what you need to know…
What is a Wooden Pool Cue?
As a general rule, pool cues tend to be made out of a specific type of wood. You’ll find the vast majority of wooden cues are made out of ash or maple. Maple is the preferred choice of pool cue manufacturers, whereas ash is the dominant choice in snooker cues…
A bit weird when you think about it? As they both do exactly the same job!
While the above types are dominant in the industry, you’ll also find other woods occasionally used, such as: –
- Olive Wood
Pool cues generally come as a single piece. Still, they can also be found in two-piece varieties, which are great for carrying around and storing easily.
How is a Wooden Pool Cue Made?
You’ll rarely see a pool cue made of one single piece of wood. In fact, there are numerous parts to each wooden pool cue.
Those patterns on the back of the cue… They’re called inlays and are actually created from separate pieces. In fact, there are around 16 individual pieces to each pool cue!
The majority of work on a wooden pool cue is done on a lathe. This is something that requires a lot of skill to use. When you add that every piece of wood is ever so slightly different, it is easy to see why the best wooden pool cues tend to be quite expensive.
It’s a lot of work! Check this out!
Wooden Pool Cues | Advantages
Wooden pool cues are: –
- Great to play with, with excellent feedback and feel
- Less sticky than carbon
- Repairable, chips can be filled in and sanded away
- More classic looking
- Often unique!
Wooden Pool Cues | Disadvantages
Wooden pool cues: –
- Tend to cost more for quality
- Warp easily in extremes of humidity and temperature
- Are prone to damage
- Are inconsistent (especially with cheaper cues)
Are Graphite Pool Cues Any Good?
For the money, graphite pool cues are excellent. An average graphite cue will perform as well in certain spheres as an expensive wooden cue.
If you have a pool table in your man cave and you’re worried about your mates making a mess of your brand new cue, then it would be a great option. They are pretty idiot-proof.
Because graphite cues are constructed of man-made material, you tend not to get as many imperfections either.
With a cheap wood cue, there are little things that will be quickly apparent. Things like the ring and collar might not be completely smooth, the inlays might be of poor quality, or the cue might be made of cheap wood that is prone to bend and warp easily. (Let’s face it, we’ve all been in the pub and played with something that isn’t a million miles away from a ‘stick’.
What is the Best Material for a Pool Cue?
Wood is the best material for a pool cue. If you look at the professionals, the vast majority of pool and snooker players still use a wooden cue. This is because it offers excellent feedback and glides along the bridge of your hand easier.
But here’s the thing…
Those professionals probably get paid a lot more than we do! So they can afford to get top-notch quality when it comes to choosing a cue.
Just as there is a difference between wood and graphite cues, so is there a difference between a cheap wooden cue and an expensive one.
If you are looking for overall consistency across the table, then graphite could be a better option.
How Much Does a Decent Pool Cue Cost?
Well, the answer is that it depends. What do you consider ‘decent’?
For us, decent means a few things: –
- The cue should stay straight
- The cue should be easy to clean and maintain
- The cue should give good feedback and feel without feeling ‘dead.’
- We should be able to play a variety of shots
- It should help us to pot balls
Based on all of the above, you can expect to pay the following: –
Premium Quality Pool Cues
- Carbon Fiber Pool Cues: £400+
- Wooden Pool Cues: £250+
Mid Range Pool Cues
Carbon Fiber Pool Cues: Around £100 per cue
Wooden Pool Cues: Around £100 per cue
Budget Pool Cues
Carbon Fiber Pool Cues: £30 – 50
Wooden Pool Cues: £30 – £50
You’ll notice that as you move up the scale, carbon pool cues are more expensive. This is because there is a limit to how much technology can go into the wooden cues. In contrast, for a premium graphite cue, you’ll be looking at some pretty high-tech stuff.
What Should I Look for When Buying a Pool Cue?
It is obvious that you want to smash every ball down off the break. That’s not what we mean by performance.
What we are actually looking at is whether the cue allows you to play consistently. You might have heard us talk about ‘feedback’ and ‘feel’.
What does this mean?
The easiest way to explain ‘feel’ is to imagine hitting a shot with your eyes closed. Based on the feeling the cue gives you, would you be able to guess with a good degree of certainty where the ball ended up? If the answer is yes, then you’ve got a cue that offers a good feel.
Also, bear in mind that we said graphite cues tend to ‘stick’. This means that oils and muck from your hands builds up toward the tip of the cue.
This eventually will lead to the cue gaining greater friction with your hand. This can cause you to mishit shots.
The good news is that graphite cues are really easy to clean, much easier than wood, in fact, as they don’t absorb water.
Be honest, are you the kind of guy who cleans his prized possessions and puts them safely away, or are you a ‘leave it until tomorrow’ kind of guy?
If there is a chance that your pool cues are going to be haphazardly stored, your best bet might be a graphite pool cue. They tend not to incur damage easily, especially if they are dropped (or whacked off the pool table light)
Listen, you didn’t go to all that trouble with the pool table and room décor only to ruin the ‘classiness’ with a couple of broom handles for cues.
The cues form part of the setup, just as much as the table and lights.
If you’ve got something really swish, a pair of graphite cues might be the perfect finishing touch. Alternatively, if you’ve got a room that’s super traditional looking, wood might be the way to go.
Pick cues that match the style of the room.
We’ve all rushed out and bought something that is far too advanced for us.
“Yes, I know it was expensive dear, but it’s aspirational“…
Joking aside, there seems little point in blowing £400 on a space-age cue when you can’t pot more than two balls in a row.
If you are an advanced player or are looking to put some serious practice in, then go for gold… For newbies, your best bet is to get something that will allow you to gain some measure of consistency.
Have a plan and stick to it.
Some cues are cheap, some are unbelievably expensive. It is the player holding it who makes the shots, not the cue itself per se. Don’t spend fortunes expecting a cue to work wonders on your game. It won’t.
Instead, get a reasonably priced cue that will not warp, is easy to maintain and clean and will allow you to progress.
There’s more to pool cues than meets the eye. When it comes to graphite pool cues vs wood, there is a difference, but not a massive difference. One offers durability at the cost of feel. The other offers great playing characteristics but might not last as long. If you choose a decent pool cue, you hopefully should be able to get a good blend of both!