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Cleaning A Pool Cue Shaft

Cleaning A Pool Cue Shaft

Any experienced billiard shooter will attest that nothing is worse and harms your shot more than a sticky cue shaft. There are several techniques that one can use to clean their pool cue shaft, ranging from a simply dry wipe-down, to and involved pool cue shaft smoothing and burnishing.

Cleaning A Pool Cue Shaft

The buildup of sticky residue can accumulate over time if your pool cue shaft is not cleaned properly. You can help slow the buildup of sticky residue by always wiping the pool cue shaft down with a cotton cloth after play, as well as by doing the obvious; ensuring that you play with cleanly washed hands. You can also use a slightly damp cloth, but it is imperative that you completely and thoroughly dry the pool cue shaft immediately after wiping it clean to prevent warping.

For a more effective, yet more involved method of cleaning your pool cue shaft, you can use a pool cue smoother and a pool cue burnisher. These are generally considered the most effective mode of pool cue shaft care. You begin by wrapping the smoother fully around the shaft, and continue by stroking the shaft gently. The trick here is ensure that too much pressure is not applied, as there is the risk of producing unwanted heat through the friction that could be generated. Finish only once you have reached the desired smoothness is achieved.

Once you have smoothed to cue shaft perfection, you follow this up with burnishing. Burnishing involves the wrapping of burnishing leather around the newly smoothed pool cue shaft. You then proceed to stroke the shaft with rapid motion, but this time, moderate pressure is to be applied. Once this is complete, follow it up with another final smoothing. Finish it off with a final polish, using either a polishing glove or a cotton cloth.

If you have any other tried and true tips for cleaning a pool cue shaft, be sure to contact us and tell us about it by using the form below!

Rob has posted a comment on this article about cleaning a pool cue shaft

Cleaning A Pool Cue Shaft

  • Title: Cleaning A Pool Cue Shaft
  • Author: (Billiards Forum)
  • Published: 9/7/2006 4:22:01 PM

Cleaning A Pool Cue Shaft Comments

  1. Brian WoodBrian Wood from Portland, OR on 7/27/2008 5:25:13 PM

    I use a soft abrasive to clean the ferrule, i.e. toothpaste, and a high grit sand paper (around 600 grit to 1000 grit) to shine up the pool cue shaft. Keep in mind not to sand the pool cue shaft while it is still wet or damp, as this will splinter the wood.

  2. nhoopnhoop from Oxford, AR on 1/19/2009 5:59:02 AM

    A really rough pool cue shaft must have the dings and dents removed and be initially smoothed with a 400-grit or finer sandpaper and a piece of leather.

    After that, the very best stuff is "TurtleWax Polishing compound".

    All I can say is WOW. It actually makes the shaft shine. It makes a shaft so slick it's hard to get enough grip on it to pick up the cue. It comes in a plastic "can" with a very soft foam applicator. The tiny amount that sticks to the bottom of the applicator is enough to do the job. Rub the pool cue shaft vigorously with the applicator then wipe with a soft cloth.

    As I said... WOW!

  3. billiardsforumbilliardsforum from Halifax, NS on 1/19/2009 6:16:01 AM

    Turtle wax eh? I would actually love a solution like that to prevent the lower part of my cue from being sticky. I seriously get so frustrated when the cue sticks to my fingers. The friction messes with the execution of the shot. It gets worse as the weather gets warmer. I also hate the talc or hand chalk too. This turtle wax solution sounds like it may work for this issue.

  4. nhoopnhoop from Oxford, AR on 1/19/2009 7:37:27 AM

    Remember, it is not just regular old Turtle Wax. It is the Turtle Wax Polishing Compound.

  5. rishrish from Belgium on 7/29/2009 5:39:52 PM

    What about for cleaning graphite pool cues? Can you use water on graphite cues? Because it is carbon fiber it won't matter right?

  6. StevehtnStevehtn from Knoxville, TN on 10/29/2009 6:10:12 PM

    I usually apply carnauba car wax to my pool cue shaft, let it dry a few minutes until it is dull looking, then buff it off with a soft cloth and long strokes with the grain. The carnauba wax will clean the chalk off of the ferrule and leave it shiny, which for me helps in sighting.

    Sometimes I'll use 2000-grit sandpaper to remove any residue or accumulated dirt. I urge everyone to never use a coarser sandpaper than that, because over time you may very well end up with a long toothpick. Plus, using that fine of a sandpaper followed by several layers of wax will result in a pool cue shaft that is slicker than an icicle.

    I also use orange furniture wipes (made by Pledge) between waxings to touch up and clean the shaft and they work very well.

  7. BlackMagicBlackMagic from Newark, DE on 4/28/2010 4:05:49 PM

    Turtle Wax to clean a pool cue shaft?

    That makes no sense and it seems like he either sells Turtle Wax or pool cues.

    There are a TON of products on the market designed specifically to clean pool cues. Why use turtle wax? You will have a hard time finding even ONE pro or cue repair professional that agrees with the use of Turtle Wax.

  8. Ryan SnellRyan Snell from Kansas City, KS on 8/29/2010 12:09:44 AM

    To clean your billiard cue shaft, use one part ammonia and one part water and a Mr. Clean magic eraser. Just spray it on the pad and stroke it up and down the pool cue shaft. The shaft will look brand new. I found this by searching for using Turtle Wax on a pool cue. Still need info or confirmation on that.

  9. Aloha Pacific PoolAloha Pacific Pool from Kailua, HI on 9/5/2010 8:43:47 PM

    @brian-wood said:

    I use a soft abrasive to clean the ferrule, i.e. toothpaste, and a high grit sand paper (around 600 grit to 1000 grit) to shine up the pool cue shaft. Keep in mind not to sand the pool cue shaft while it is still wet or damp, as this will splinter the wood.

    I think it would work ok, but when your pool cues have a toothpaste feel, what would your customers think?

  10. user1289179096user1289179096 from Finland on 11/8/2010 1:18:16 AM

    To clean a pool cue shaft, I highly recommend the carnauba wax mixture. I have used it on my pool cue ever since I got it and it stays really slick if you keep your hands clean. It stays quite long and makes the cleaning process really fast because the wax and oil mix stops the dirt from getting in the wood. All you have to do is give it quick wipe once in a while and new coat of wax maybe once in month. If you play a lot then do it more often in the beginning (or with a new shaft) so that the wood absorbs it evenly.

    I have never sanded my pool cue shaft and prob will not ever sand it. I can see no reason to smooth it by sanding, but if I did it would be with at least a 2000-grit sandpaper. Like @stevehtn said, anything less is too coarse, like the 600-grit or 1000-grit which was recommended above.

  11. poolsparky1820poolsparky1820 from Highlands Ranch, CO on 2/17/2011 9:23:01 AM

    To clean a pool cue shaft it is best to use a Lathe. It also depends on just how dirty your shaft is.

    Cleaning a Pool Cue Shaft Without a Lathe

    I first use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. I get the Magic Eraser damp and stroke up and down to remove as much dirt as it will allow.

    Then I use a dry cloth and dry the shaft with a vigorous motion. The Magic Eraser works very well on the ferrule too.

    Once completely dry, there are several different types of pool cue shaft sealers out there. I find that "Q-Slick" works well.

    Cleaning a Pool Cue Shaft With a Lathe

    If you have a pool cue lathe the cleaning process is a little different.

    I first use the Magic Eraser again and this will remove a lot of dirt by itself.

    For the real dirty shafts I use a cleaning product from Chris Hightower's Cue Man Billiards (google him). I use his shaft cleaner and shaft sealer as they are both great. I spray some of the cleaner on the Magic Eraser while pressing firmly on the pool cue shaft to create heat. This opens the pores of the wood and release the deep dirt and raise any dings and dents.

    Once you have the shaft as clean as you can get it, make sure you DRY IT COMPLETELY.

    Then I start with a 220 or 320 grit wet/dry sandpaper if the shaft is real ruff, otherwise I start with a 400 grit, then move down to a 600 for the finishing. Clean all of the dust off and apply the sealer from Cue Man Billiards.

    Then I run very lightly, just once up and once down the shaft, with the 600-grit sandpaper again.

    Wipe clean and apply the cue wax from Cue Man Billiards. Let the cue spin for a few minutes to dry then buff to a sheen with a super soft towel. I found a good soft towel from Ace Hardware store. It is orange and it works great.

    With the Lathe method I can remove as much as 100% of the dirt and chalk on a semi dirty shaft and up to 95% on a real dirty pool cue shaft. They usually come out looking like new. Good Luck.

    How did I come to use this method? I purchased my Lathe from Cue Man Billiards and he sent a DVD on how to clean shafts. I believe that I have improved on his methods.

  12. HotshotHotshot from London, ON on 12/15/2012 5:40:02 PM

    @ryan-snell, Can you wet the Magic Eraser with alcohol instead of water? I ask because I believe it would be faster evaporating than water would be.

  13. TimboTimbo from Panama City, FL on 4/19/2013 12:06:28 PM

    I just wash my hands with antibacterial soap and stroke the shaft with the paper towel that I used to dry my hands. With this method I can not complain at all. It will always be clean because you never know how many times you will go to the bathroom while you are playing pool.

  14. Jackson GJackson G from Ann Arbor, MI on 6/5/2013 9:05:44 PM

    I have found this page about cleaning your Pool Cues Shaft very informative for the novice player. I am not a novice player.

    Yes, I agree that the way pool cue shafts feel when they are new "from the factory" are very smooth with that horrible stuff that they put on. So I try to take it off as soon as I can.

    I shoot with a "totally custom cue" which is not from a factory. It has no seal coat of any kind and I have found over almost 20 years of play that I actually like the bluing of my shaft.

    I have also found a free way to seal my pool cue shaft. As I play stressful games, and also in the summer, my hands will tend to become damp and oily. When this happens, I will rub my fingers down the cues shaft putting the oil and chalk from my hands into the wood's pores and then I burnish with leather. This action, over time, will seal the wood, and will put a glossy shine with a hint of blue in it. Then if it does become sticky, as it sometimes will, I burnish with fine burnishing film and I am back in business.

    I had a guy earlier this year ask my why I dyed my shaft blue. I told him what I have explained here, and then let him feel it and he responded that it feels like warm glass because it was so smooth and cause I had been playing for a while. I explained, and he agreed, end of story.

    Also, to me, a blued shaft adds character to the pool cues. That is just my two cents.

  15. Adam JAdam J from Emmitsburg, MD on 3/14/2015 7:20:30 PM

    I used acetone nail polish remover on a few layers of paper towel to clean my shaft and it was amazing. It took care of 10 years of chalk buildup on my ferrule in just a few seconds and it is completely safe. It dries in a few seconds. I'm going to try the Turtle Wax Polishing Compound suggested by @nhoop to shine it up.

  16. RCookeNCRCookeNC from NC, United States on 3/16/2015 8:28:35 PM

    You should ONLY clean your shaft with 91% rubbing alcohol and a soft clean cloth (a old clean sock is great).

    Never use ANY cleaners that are water based, as the shaft will absorb a small amount of water on each cleaning-and after a while will begin to swell slightly. Also, never use any sandpaper (no matter the grit) or "green scrubbie pads" as these will take off a small amount of the wood.

    If you own a premium cue and it has a lifetime warranty like Predator Cues, they measure the diameter of the shaft when it is returned for any warranty issues, and if it no longer meets the original specs, then they will deny your warranty claim.

    Also it is a good idea to use a leather burnishing pad to help seal the wood after each cleaning. Do not use any other type of material except leather to burnish the pool cue shaft. All you want to do is create some heat from the friction and that is what seals and hardens the wood.

    Every couple of months, it is also a good idea to apply some high quality pool cue wax. Carnuba wax is your best bet, as it is used in foods and candy and is organic and has no harsh chemicals in it. Carnuba wax is also recommended by high end cue makers. Apply a thin to moderate coat and allow to dry to a haze, then wipe off with clean soft rag. Allow wax to dry an additional 30-40 mins, then burnish the shaft with your leather burnishing pad. Repeat until you have two or three coats of wax applied and then do a final burnish.

  17. Mr. BrizziMr. Brizzi from Long Island, NY on 7/20/2017 7:29:26 AM

    I bought an old cue stick, it is ash and the shaft is tinted blue. It is heavy, and it shoots better than a majority of the other thirteen cue sticks.

    The cue was in a garage of the former owner for decades. I hung it to straighten it. Gave it a soft tip (Blue Knight 13mm). Sanded the varnish finish that was chipped and cracked. Freshened the stained wood with Fiebing's Leather dye, and MinWax Paste Wax. Then cut brown paper, the kind that is used by butchers or sometimes used when getting something shipped through the mail in a box. Cut 2"x4", wrapped around the shaft only on one side, held the tab ends and burnished. Slick. Nice cue. Bought other old neglected and unwanted cues and did similar. They play nicely. Wondering if Turtle Wax can be used. Cleaned my table (Gandy, with new K66 cushions and Teflon felt) with Mothers Aluminum & Mag Polish on the Formica and aluminum (with my index finger), then went over the rails with Turtle Wax car wax. Slick and sweet. One week, and no issues observed in the Formica.

    Next bright idea was to clean the old Aramith balls (Standard), with 50/50 mix of bleach and water. Did okay until the wife started distracting me, then the balls came out with heavy clouding and streaks. I was not pleased, so down to the workbench and I started thinking. Again, with my index finger tip, I used Bluemagic Headlight Lens Cleaner, shook the bottle, and tapped liquid onto the balls, one at a time when each was cleaned. Rubbed with my finger. Smelly. Ammonia or bleach smell. Rubbed and when cloudiness was gone, wiped with dry paper towel. After everything was looking good, I took Turtle Wax car wax, and tapped some onto each ball. Sit close to the bench/table because the really turn slippery clean. Did all the balls, and buffed with a dry paper towel. Shot and they went crazy wild. Then saw that shots were missed and I went to dead stick technique of softly shooting and the balls work like a dream, the table performs sweetly. Tried cues ranging from 18.5 ounces through 21 ounces. Sweet. Gave the balls a second and third coat of Turtle Wax car wax. No regrets.

    When I finish for the day, I gently sweep the felt with a horsehair bench brush from Home Depot, wipe the rails with a dry paper towel, and buff clean the balls. Then cover the table. I have no regrets. I am thinking of using Turtle Wax car wax on some cue shafts. I always sand the shafts to rid that wretched clear paint that is sprayed at the factory and figure that they do it, because they have no idea when the stick will sell, and they don't want warpage of the shaft.

  18. Eagle OneEagle One from Ft. Smith, AR on 1/3/2019 8:43:17 AM

    I have been working with wood for many years and I can tell you that you should never use sandpaper on a pool cue shaft.

    I found out the hard way when I used sandpaper. It will open up the finish or just take the finish right off your shaft.

    When I finish wood, I use triple-aught (000) or four-aught (0000) steel wool on cue shafts. It gives the shaft such a nice finish and it doesn't harm the shaft whatsoever.

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