Here is the second installment of the How It’s Made series on pool cues. Part one can be found here.
In this section we are going to mount the round pieces of curly maple on dowels. The forearm section will be mounted on the permanent ¾ inch dowel that will be the backbone of the cue. This will insure that the butt never warps, and will give the cue a consistent “hit” like all the cues I build.
The butt sleeve will be temporally mounted on a “sacrificial” dowel so we can turn it on the lathe. The forearm is glued to the 30 inch long dowel using Gorilla Glue. It foams and expands about four times it’s original size and fills any small voids. This does not mean that there is foam inside the cue. It only foams where it escapes the glue joint. The butt sleeve is glued on the short dowel with three dots of super glue (CA) on each end.
After 24 hours, we can begin to work on the curly maple pieces. We will mount each one in the lathe and taper them using the butt taper bar. Each one will be turned to about 100 thousands over size.
Now that we have the forearm and butt sleeve tapered, we can cut the “V” grooves for the points. The grooves are cut using a large 90 degree “V” cutter. A special taper bar, that I designed and built, will be used to cut the proper shape and depth of the grooves.
Now that the point grooves are cut, we need to make something to fill them.
The 1 inch squares of gaboon ebony need to be squared-up, and sanded until they are smooth and the edges are sharp. To do this, we will run them through a drum sander—sometimes referred to as a thickness sander.
When the ebony point stock is ready, it’s time to cut it to length.
The forearm points are about 9 inches long, so we will cut one of the ebony point stock pieces to 10 inches long. The ebony square for the butt points will be cut to about 5 inches long, as the points in the butt sleeve are 4 ½ inches long. Starting at the ebony, the point veneers will be yellow, orange, red, and black. The black veneer will outline the point in the curly maple forearm. The yellow veneer is cut into strips that are the proper length and about 1/8 inch wider than the point stock.
The veneer strips are glued on to the point stock two sides at a time.
Titebond wood glue is used because it is very strong and does not leave a glue line. The veneer strips and point stock is clamped between two oak strips until the glue sets—about 1 hour. The oak strips are covered with freezer paper to prevent sticking (glue does not stick because of the paper’s slick, waxy surface.)
When the glue has set, the edges are trimmed flush using a router and flush trimming laminate bit.
After sanding the veneer edges smooth, the other two pieces of yellow veneer are glued on and clamped. When the glue is dry, the edges will be trimmed with the router and sanded smooth. The next color is orange.
The orange veneer is followed with the red veneer.
The final layer is the back veneer.
From each point block, we will cut four points.
The points are held in 90 degree “V” blocks and cut free hand with the band saw. I always count my fingers when I am done. After the points are cut from each block, you have a small piece of ebony left over.
In the next section, we will glue in the points and turn them even with the surface of the forearm and the butt sleeve.
Read part 3A here.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or contact him on Facebook. Photos: Flickr/Trevor King (featured image.) Process photos provided by author. Editor: Hannah Blue