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How to Change Your Own Pool Cue Tips

An article by Jim Barr on how to figure out if you can change you own pool cue tips. Also good to get some practice changing pool cue tips before trying it on your own pool cue. This article was originally published in 1997 under the title "Tip Replacement Test".

How to Change Your Own Pool Cue Tips

Players that want to know how to replace their own tips is sometimes a controversial issue. I have always felt that if a player wants to replace their own tips, then they should learn to do so. I was taught to replace my own tip the first time it was needed. Over the years, my methods have changed and what follows are the best of those methods in a test that I have created to see if you are capable and willing to replace your own tip.

You will get a lot of opinions on when a tip needs to be replaced, so I will give you my recommendation. If you break with your cue, then I would not let the base of the tip (The Side) get much under the thickness of 2 Nickels or you risk damage to the ferrule. If you don't break with your cue, then you might use it until it is the thickness of 1 Nickel.

DO NOT USE YOUR CUE FOR THIS TEST, this test is only to see if you are capable and willing to do the job. This test will not involve any risk to your cue and you can do this test with the required tools for about 5 bucks, assuming you have a few common tools around the house. I will also recommend some inexpensive tools that will help to do a quicker and possibly a little better quality job. Tip replacement is not that difficult and if proper time and care are taken, then tips can be easily replaced.

The first thing you need to do for this test is to go to the local hobby shop or hardware store and buy a wooden rod, be sure the ends are square. You should be able to find them 2 to 3 foot long and in just about any diameter. Picking one out the same diameter as your shaft should be a simple task, but don't pick out something that is only a few inches long. If you choose something that is close to the length of your shaft it will be easier to work with. This rod should cost you about a buck.

Then you need some glue. The most common glue used is Super Glue, all most always Gel. I don't recommend Super Glue simply because it does not give you a lot of time to work with the tip. It may also only work once since the next time you need it, it will most likely have dried in the tube. I would visit your local billiard supply store and buy a tube of Tweeten's 10 Minute Cement. I have used it for several years and if used correctly it holds very well, if not better than Super Glue and I have never had it dry in the tube. Tweeten's should cost you about 3 bucks. While you are there be sure to pick up one of your favorite tips, make sure that it is larger than the rod you bought, because it is easier to glue on an oversize tip and trim it down than it is to glue a tip that's the same size on perfectly center. Your tip should be around a buck, providing you don't buy a layered tip.

Required tools you may already have, with some options:

  1. A single edge razor blade or a X-acto knife. Option: Joe Porper's Little Shaver, about 16 bucks.
  2. A small block of wood, somewhere around 1 to 2 inches and some course sandpaper. Option: Rapid Cue Top Sander about 20 bucks.
  3. A fat rubber band. Option: Plastic Cue Clamp, about 2 bucks.

Other optional Items.

  1. A 9 inch tip sander, should cost about 2 bucks.
  2. Tip shaper, should cost 8 or 9 bucks or the Ulti-mate Tip Tool about 20 bucks.
  3. Some fine sandpaper.

Once you have at least the required items and a tip you are ready to proceed with the test.

Take the block of wood and wrap some course sandpaper around it. Place it on the top of the rod and in short small strokes sand the top of the rod, gently moving it back and forth. This should be done when you do a real replacement and is only done to remove any leather or glue that remains on the top of the shaft, it serves no other purpose. The goal is to be able to remove these materials without rounding the edges of the ferrule and keeping it perfectly flat. This is one of the most difficult parts. You may choose to try to carefully scrape any glue and leather away without the sanding. Another option is the Rapid Cue Top Sander. It does a good job, and may be the best investment of the recommended tools. If you do use it, be sure to put something in the clamp to protect the shaft. I used a match book cover between the shaft and the clamp, if you don't it may scratch or dent the shaft. It also works best if you occasionally rotate the clamp on the shaft, this will give you a flatter surface.

Take a piece of course sandpaper and lay it flat. Take your tip and place the bottom of it against the sand paper and sand it smooth. This is to remove any protective coating as well as to give you a flat, smooth surface to glue to. Rotate the tip in your fingers as sanding in a circular pattern. It's important that the tip be as flat and as level as the shaft. If your tip has an added backing then sanding is not required.

Now take the tip and place it on the top of the rod. Bring it up to eye level and look to see if you see any light between the ferrule and the tip. If you do then one of the two needs to be sanded flat. This would also be a good time to practice with the rubber band. The idea is to wrap the rubber band around the shaft and bring it up to wrap around the top of the tip to hold it on while the glue dries. If you find this too difficult, then the 2 dollar investment in the Plastic Cue Clamp would be the way to go. It does not require a lot of pressure to glue the tip on.

If every thing looks OK then you are ready for the glue. Put a little glue on the tip. I like to take the tip, put it on the ferrule and squeeze out the excess, then wipe it off. You may not have time to do this if you are using Super Glue, but if you are using Tweeten's you will want to wait for the glue to get a little tacky before you place it back on the shaft. Once you have it on the shaft, center it the best you can and apply the rubber band. If you're using Super glue, then the rubber band is not necessary just hold it for a few seconds. When using Tweeten's, they say 10 minutes, but I always give a tip at least an hour of drying time before I take the edges down.

After the glue has dried, take the shaft and turn it upside down, with the top of the tip down on something besides Mom's kitchen table. (use an old block of wood or something) Take your cutting tool and cut through the bottom of the tip next to the ferrule. Cutting straight through the tip may not be effective, you may need to rock it back and forth cutting the edge of the tip off, watch the ferrule and your fingers! Spin the shaft and cut all the way around it. You won't get it all on the first trip around and you should not try to do so. Just keep going around it until you have got it to where it should be. Take your time this is a likely place for damage to occur. You may or may not want to take some sandpaper and finish the sides of the tip. If you sand, tape the ferrule to protect it. I try to avoid sanding the sides of the tip but if the ferrule has scratches in it from someone else sanding, then I will use fine sand paper to sand the tip and the ferrule. I can usually work out any scratches providing they are not very deep.

Burnishing the sides of the tip is not a requirement, but it is best to do so. This will help to prevent it from mushrooming. Burnishing the side of a tip by hand is not an easy job. The Ulti-mate Tip Tool, does about the best job of burnishing of any tool that I have tried, but here's a couple of the best ways that I have found to do it by hand. Take a piece of smooth leather, wrap it around a block of wood that is 3 or 4 inches long and place it a vice where the vice holds the leather on the wood. Place the edge of the tip on the leather and rub it occasionally rotating the shaft, or take a dollar bill and fold it in half. Place it around the ferrule and take both hands and pretend you are starting a fire with 2 sticks. You need to generate some heat to do this and you need to occasionally rotate the shaft. When the side of the tip takes on a shine, then you have accomplished the task.

Now you are ready to shape it. If you have a tip shaper then this is an easy task. If not, then you need to take your 9 inch tip sander or a piece of course sandpaper and got to work. Working with sandpaper or the tip sander might take a little practice to keep from ending up with a lopsided tip. The best way to do this is to rotate the shaft every one or two strokes. If you like a Nickel or Dime shape, then take the coin and hold it flat against the back of the ferrule. Bring it up to eye level and see if it matches the radius of the coin.

How does it look?

Are you capable and willing to replace your own pool cue tip?

If you are ready to replace your own pool cue tip, here's one thing that you did not learn from this article that you will need to know. You will need to remove the old tip. I have seen tips that I could get my finger nail under and pop off fairly clean, but most of the time I have had to cut them off with a blade. If you have to cut a tip off be careful of the ferrule, your hand, and your fingers. Cut as close to the ferrule as you can, then carefully scrape off as much leather and glue as possible.

There's one other thing I like to do before doing a tip replacement. The first thing I always do when replacing a tip is to clean the ferrule. I do this before I ever remove the tip. I use a S.O.S. or Brillo pad and a little water, doing it before the tip is removed prevents any moisture from entering the end of the shaft. You do not need to rub hard, little pressure is needed to get all chalk and dirt out of the ferrule. I always clean the ferrule because most cues I replace tips on are very dirty and this is the best and quickest way that I have found to clean them. I have also found from past experiences that if any glue hits the side of the ferrule and it is dirty it will sometimes put a stain in it that is hard to remove. If you do get any glue on the ferrule then the Brillo pad and a little water should remove it.

How to Change Your Own Pool Cue Tips

  • Title: How to Change Your Own Pool Cue Tips
  • Author:
  • Published: 1/1/1997
  • Last Updated: 3/28/2017 8:29:38 PM
  • Last Updated By: billiardsforum (Billiards Forum)

How to Change Your Own Pool Cue Tips

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