This is part four of Kim Walker’s pool cue “How It’s Made” series—read parts one, two, three-A, and three-B to round out your knowledge. (There will be six parts in total, published on a staggered schedule.)
Now that we have the material to fill the slots in the ring billets, we have to make the billets. The material veneer sandwich measured .245 inches thick. We will cut the slots .245 inches wide, and just wipe the veneer strips on a piece of 220 sand paper to make them a nice fit.
A piece of black Juma is glued on a dowel and mounted in the CNC machine to cut the grooves for the veneer strips.
I make 3 sizes of ring billets. The one inch diameter billet is for the joint and shaft rings. The 1.130 inch diameter is for the “A” joint position at the top of the handle. The 1.350 inch diameter is for the rings on either side of the butt sleeve. The veneer strips are dry fit before they are glued in place.
I mix up a little epoxy and paint the grooves with it. Then, using a rubber glove, I coat each veneer strip with epoxy and press it into a slot in the billet. When all the slots are filled, a rubber band is wound on tightly to keep the veneer strips in place over night until the epoxy sets.
After the glue has set, the billets is turned in the lathe to smooth them and get them ready to cut the rings off.
The lathe is set up to cut the rings off the billets. I use a 1/16 inch three wing slot cutter to cut the rings. A dial indicator is used to measure the rings thickness. For example, if I want a ring that is .100 inches thick, I would face off the end of billet to establish “zero.” Then I would move the router forward the thickness of the ring plus the thickness of the slot cutter, or .1625 inches ( .100 inches plus 1/16 inch.)
I usually make the rings thinner at the joint, and make them progressive thicker towards the butt end of the cue.
Now, let’s put the rings and joint cap on the cue. First we need to make the joint cap. I cut off a one inch long and one inch diameter piece of black Juma. Then I drill it out to 5/8 inch or .625 inches.
With the forearm chucked in the lathe, I turn the end of the dowel down to fit the rings and Juma joint cap.
Give the rings a light sanding to be sure that they are perfectly flat. Line them up in the order that they will be glued on with epoxy. I stuff a little paper in the center hole in the dowel. If the center hole is accidentally filled with glue, I will lose the true center and the points will not be equal length. I make a pencil line from one of the points so I can line up the joint ring to the points.
Now we can glue on the ebony handle and the rings between the handle and the forearm. The handle is glued on using gorilla glue.
The assembly is mounted in my glue fixture, with a piece of 3/4 inch PVC pipe for a spacer on the end. The glue fixture squeezes the components together until the glue sets. Be sure to line up the rings with the points. I used to do this in the lathe, but it tied up the lathe for five or six hours. We now have something that is starting to look like a cue.
In the next installment, I will prepare the butt sleeve and mount it on the main dowel. I will install the butt cap and rings, and get ready to turn and taper it smooth.
If you’d like to talk to the author, Kim Walker of Southern Cue Systems and Walker Custom Cues, you can send him an email at email@example.com or contact him on Facebook. Photos: Library of Congress Digital Catalogue (featured.) Process photos provided by author. Editor: Hannah Blue