Full Splice Billiards - 10606 Bridgeport Way SW - Lakewood, WA Phone 253-512-1945

POOL ETIQUETTE

A Common Subject that Greatly Effects the Game We All Love
(January Issue 2004)

Hello, this month let lets take a look at a subject that many times gives our sport a black eye in the eyes of the general public, and also in the eyes of new league players and that is a lack of Etiquette while participating in pocket billiards. Our sport and especially league play should be serious, but also something that is enjoyed beyond just winning matches and trophies. I truly think the average league player uses their time during league play as a form of stress relief, and relaxation after a hard days work. Keeping this in mind, these same people do not want to deal with un-conscience or conscience negative behavior, poor sportsmanship, or bad habits that effect fair play.

Lets start with the obvious, what is difficult about being courteous to your opponent and your opponentís team. When another team comes to local establishment for league play, they should be treated as guests. This simply means treat others, as you want to be treated. Make the other team feel at home, help keep the noise down during play, help stop other patrons not involved in league play from becoming a problem and from getting in the way. Be fair while winning a match is very important, winning by intimidation from patrons either observing or playing during league play is un-acceptable and should not be tolerated by league operators or by team captains. A good example of this occurred recently during league play here in Washington State. A player from an opposing team was asked not to smoke a cigar because it was making another player sick. The players reaction to this was to not only continue to smoke his cigar, but to act as if it was a joke and to antagonize the situation further by intentionally blowing smoke in the direction of the other player. What did he have gain by this behavior? Additionally how was this situation perceived by others on both teams? Last how should conduct unbecoming be treated by and why are no actions taken by league operators against individuals and teams who behave in this manner on a frequent basis.

Below are listed some of the more common actions that show poor etiquette during play.
1. Spitting in the chalk
2. Placing the chalk upside down on the table or creating a mess on the table by other means.
3. Removing the chalk form your cue tip on the floor or furniture at your local establishment.
4. Standing at the Table and chalking your cue when it is your opponents shot.
5. Walking away from the table with house chalk when your time at the table is over.
6. Placing items on the table such as drinks, food, or your backside.
7. Standing near the table when it is no longer your shot or intentionally standing and making movements in your opponentís line of aim.
8. Consciously trying to distract your opponent, by noise, by talking to them, or by other means designed to break their concentration during play.
9. Intentionally being late for your match
10. Sand bagging
11. Intentionally causing damage to house equipment, pool tables, racks, cue sticks and other items provided by the establishment owner.
12. Any form of unsporting behavior, such as, slamming the rack down on the table, throwing things, foul language due to a miss or a loss, or intentionally antagonizing other players either through intimidation or unprofessional behavior.

In closing, I think most players want an environment where they feel comfortable and where they can enjoy this sport. I also think that league operators should take a closer look at policing league play. If these behaviors are truly made unacceptable and actions are taken to deter unprofessional behavior things can change. All players have to do to make this happen is band together and make you voices heard, there is definitely strength in numbers and numbers are on your side.

Please have a wonderful Christmas and an even better New Year!!!!!!!!!!!! And keep your stroke in tune.

Last, anyone who has additional information regarding this subject can contact me at manwon@comcast.net or at 1-253-512-6898 from 9am until 7:30pm M-F or from 11am until 7pm Sat.




MYTHS AND FACTS: NEW ARAMITH MAGNETIC TOURNAMENT CUE BALL

(December Issue 2003)

Hello, this month I hope to dispel some of the myths that are being spread around about the New Aramith Magnetic Tournament Cue Ball that was used during the BCA Nationals early this year in Las Vegas. I have been testing this ball over a period of three months under normal playing conditions and I have found the following information to be true.

1) Since the introduction of this cue ball many of the inherent problems that were common with the Oversized and the Magnetic Plugged cue balls, such as, untrue roll, wobble, and drift have been eliminated.

2) The new Aramith Tournament Magnetic cue ball weighs .37 lb verses the Aramith Tournament Red circle ball, which weighs .36 lb.

3) This new cue ball is more prone to surface marks than other Aramith products.. However, these balls can be cleaned using Aramith Phenolic ball cleaner, and a piece of Scotch Bright. The surface marks I have encountered seem to mainly be friction marks caused when the ball is hit and skids across the cloth. This problem also appears to intensify when these balls are used on new cloth.

4) Chips and cracks in the balls surface, which were reported during the BCA nationals seem to have been eliminated. To date, I have had no reports from customers who have purchased these balls that these balls are not wearing well.

5) A consistent rumor that I continue to hear is that the new ball is really no different than the small sized magnetic cue ball. This statement is completely in correct. Thanks to Chesse the Breaks Editor I have been supplied with a New Ball that was cut in half. This shows that the balls construction is in fact total different than any other magnetic ball made. This ball has a magnetic film, which is inlayed around the outer edge of the ball and the balls core is solid Phenolic like any other ball.

6) These balls can be used on almost any coin-operated table where the previous small magnetic cue ball was used. To date I have only encountered one Valley Table that would not return these balls. Tables that use the oversized cue ball also will not return these balls through the ball return.

7) Currently the price of these balls greatly fluctuates from location to location. However, if you would like to purchase one of these balls I would not pay more $18 for them. Recently Mueller Recreational Products has begun to offer this product to the General public for $14.95 ea plus $4.95 shipping.

Last, anyone who has additional information regarding this subject can contact me at manwon@comcast.net or at 1-253-512-6898 from 9am until 7:30pm M-F or from 11am until 7pm sat.




HOW TO PROTECT AND MAINTAIN YOUR POOL CUE

(November Issue 2003)

Hello, over the last two months I have tried to explain the process of buying a pool cue and the difference in cue construction and design. This month I want to cover a subject that I think is the most important single factor short of learning to stroke the cue ball in the game of pool, and thatís cue maintenance.

Far too many people spend large sums of money to buy very high quality pool cues and through neglect allow their prize possession to become a worthless warped piece of wood. Almost on a weekly basis someone brings in a cue stick that is in need of serious help. The main reason this problem occurs is information about cue maintenance is not readily available and many people who are knowledgeable about the subject want to keep their knowledge to themselves.

The first step in cue Maintenance is a good case. The case should be a hard case; most soft cases offer little or no protection of your cue stick. In addition to this I do not recommend any hard case were the cue is slide into a tube that seals when the cues butt is fully inserted. My thoughts behind this are that after playing for a while most playersí hands will sweat to some degree, this will cause the cues wrap to become damp. In many cases people only use their cue once or twice a week, so this damp wrap will sit in a sealed dark environment until it is used again. Depending on the temperature where the cue is stored mold and mildew may make a home in your case, which will have long lasting effects on your cues finish, wrap, and a moisture build up inside your case may reek havoc on your cues shaft. Last about cases, keep them clean. I can not tell you how many times I have seen people finish their game and break down their cue and just shove it back in their case. There are too problems that are created by doing this; One, chalk is a highly abrasive substance which will damage the finish of a cue stick over time if the is not wiped off before being placed back in its case. This can be accomplished with a Very Very lightly damp clean cloth, after this process the cue should again be wiped with a dry cloth before being placed back in its case; Two, always wipe the chalk off your tip before placing back in your case. If you do not wipe off the tip you contaminate the inside of your case with chalk build-up. Long term this will damage your cue and you cues shaft will always have that sticky feeling from all the dirt and grim built up in your case.

The Next step in cue Maintenance is care of your cues shaft. The cues shaft and tip are the most important parts of a cue. These two cue components will affect the way a cue plays more than any other part of your cue. These are also the most abused parts of many player cue sticks. The following are tested methods that will allow you to maintain your cues shaft and tip in between professional tune-ups of your cues shaft.

1) Never use any abrasive substance on your cues shaft.
a. The first step in keeping your cues shaft clean, is to keep your hands clean when playing pool. Most places we play do not properly clean their tables, this is easily seen when you look at the palm of your hand and see the blue stain after playing on a pool table for a short time. All the dirt and other substances also are smeared on the shaft of your cue unless you repeatedly wash your hands.
b. When the shaft of your cue becomes sticky to the touch during your stroke it is necessary to clean it. Cleaning your cues shaft is not a complicated process. All you need are two pieces of clean cloth, and a piece of clean unlettered cardboard. First take one of the pieces of cloth and dampen it very slightly. Wipe it up and down the stroke area of your cues shaft. In most cases it will turn blue from chalk dust and other dirt that have built-up on the shaft. Immediately after wiping your cues shaft down, wipe it down a second time with a dry clean cloth. After wiping the shaft down with the dry cloth burnish the shaft with a piece of clean writing free plain cardboard. To do this wrap the cardboard around the cues shaft tightly, then slide it up and down the cues shaft very fast until the shaft and the cardboard become very warm/hot to the touch. This process will do two things, first it will completely dry the shaft due to the friction produced in the above step. Second it will polish the shaft making the finish very smooth without sanding the cues shaft. The only other item I would recommend for use on you shaft are the Micro Burnishing films produced by Q Smooth or other companies. These Micro Burnishing Films while they are abrasive materials, they are so fine that if used according to the instruction on the package they will do no harm to the shaft of your cue.
2) Never remove the chalk on the tip of your cue by rubbing it on the floor of your favorite establishment when you are through playing.
a. This is a common sight that is seen throughout, bars, pool halls, and other establishments where pool tables are present. I would go as far as to say that either most of us have seen someone do this or we have done it ourselves. There are two reasons I would not recommend this to anyone, first and most important is itís disrespectful to the owner of the establishment, and second the carpeting on the floor in most bars and pool halls is so filthy that by wiping off the cues tip on it you are also smearing many unknown substances on your cue tip which may in-turn cause your tip not to support your game when you need it to most.
3) Always keep your cues tip properly maintained.
a. Taking care of your cues tip is not a difficult process. First, keep the tip in the approximate roundness of either a Nickel or Dime. Second, trim off any over hanging portion of your tip that passes or overhangs the cues ferrule. After you trim off portions of over hanging tip, take a piece of masking tape and place it around your cues ferrule where it meets the cues tip this is to protect the cues ferrule during the next step. Then use 150 grit sand paper on the tips edge in a circular motion until the tips edge is smooth. Check the masking tape for tears, and if torn replace it with a fresh piece before continuing. Next repeat the sanding step with 320 grit paper, and finally 600 grit paper to finish the job. Then remove the masking tape from the ferrule and slightly wet the edge of the cue tip that was just sanded. Last again use a piece of clean cardboard and burnish the edge of the cues tip until is brown and shiny.
4) Cleaning and care of the cues butt.
a. To clean the cues butt again I recommend, a Very Very damp cloth for wiping down the finish on the cues butt. After removing any dirt or grime from the cues butt it should be waxed with a high quality Carnauba Wax that is clear coat finish safe. This will protect your cues finish from abrasion caused by chalk dust, and from minor bumps that cues sometime get when being used. I recommend this cleaning on a monthly basis at a minimum if you regularly use a certain cue.
5) Never leave your cue anywhere where it is exposed to major temperature changes for a long period of time.
a. The worst place to keep your cue is the trunk of your car. This is the one place in your car that is not temperature controlled. During a summer day the trunk can reach temperatures of 120 degrees or more, and at night the temperature can drop 30 to 40 degrees in that same trunk in no more than a few hours after the sun has gone down. These rapid shifts in temperature will cause swelling and expansion wherever unlike materials are joined. This temperature shift will also effect inlays under the cues finish in the same manner. Long term this expansion and swelling will crack the cues finish and in severe cases even cause cracks to form in the cues forearm and butt. This is the number one form of damage seen, and it is the easiest to prevent by using a little thought when storing your most prized possession.

Another common problem encountered from this form of abuse is a warped shaft. A cues shaft will warp very easily if it is exposed to heat long term. This also is easily avoided by giving your cue the treatment is deserves.

If you follow these simple procedures outlined here, many common problems can be resolved with little or no effort. It will also increase your confidence in your equipment which can only have a positive effect on your game overall. Last, know one will take care of your equipment better than you, the pride and professional touch only you can add to your equipment is a very important step in taking you pool game to the next level.




COMMON DESIGNS AND CONSTRUCTION METHODS
ENCOUNTERED WHEN SHOPPING FOR A CUE

(October Issue 2003)

Hello, last month I tried to give the reader some idea how they should go about making a purchase of a pool or billiard cue. I suppose due to the response that this was helpful to some readers, and I am grateful for the comments I have received and the knowledge that my article has made a difference.

This month I will try to explain to the reader what they are paying for and how construction techniques and trade names affect a cues price.

All pool and billiard cues are basically constructed with the same principles in mind, which are balance, trueness or straightness when assembled, playability, and design.

All cue design starts with simple construction techniques which are based on, and try to mimic the stability of a bar room or house cue. A house or bar cue, has a firm solid hit and an inherit stability when striking the cue ball.

I suppose some readers at this point are thinking why should I purchase a two-piece cue, the only reason I would give is convenience during transportation, because of their length normally 58Ē inches they can be quit cumbersome. Todayís cues are constructed using four major construction techniques, which are, Full Splice, Short Splice, Pantograph or CNC, and Decal. In the beginning, all cues were fully spliced. The easiest way to explain this technique is to look at the construction of a house cue. In most cases the upper portion of the cue will be maple and the bottom will be a different type of wood. Some where in the cues center these woods are jointed with a four prong / point splicing technique.

Today in two-piece cue construction the Full Spliced technique is not normally used. The only cue maker currently using this construction that I am familiar with is Joel Hercek who was trained and took over the Custom Cue operations designed by one of the greatest cue makers of all time Burton Spain. This is due to the cost of materials, man-hourís required, and a lack of interest by the general public. However, in my opinion this construction technique is the highest level of the cue makers art, may it never fade into history.

The next construction technique used is the Short Splice. In this technique the butt of a cue is constructed using a forearm that is fully spliced and then doweled to another piece of wood under the cues wrap, which in turn is doweled to the wood or materials used in the construction in the lower portion of the cue below the wrap. This technique is primarily used by Custom cue makers today, with the exception of Meucii and Helmstetter cues which are non-custom production cue manufactures.

The next construction technique employed in cue making today is Pantograph or C.N.C. inlayed point construction. These inlays are precision cut by a computer milling machine or a Pantograph, cues that feature this type of point construction generally have either floating point or inlayed points that are the same length with rounded ends. While the cost of the equipment needed to construct cues in this manner is high, the time and material savings can makeup for the cost. This technique is employed by most none custom cue making companies today. A few of the cue companies using these techniques for cue construction today are, Joss Cues, McDermott Cues, Viking cues, and Mali Cues.

The last form of cue construction that will be normally encountered is the Decal cue. These cues employ the least expensive form of cue construction. The points or design on these cues are a series of decals that can be made to resemble almost any design. While this form of cue construction is not new it has been taken to a much higher level with the advent of computer and laser technology. Cues made from this process can appear to be inlayed, but the most commonly used designs are pictures. Today most cues made using this technique are mass produced in Asia, and imported to the USA. However, McDermott, and Viking cues also currently produce cues made using this technique.

While the construction techniques outlined above due have an effect on the price of a cue, the materials used in the cues inlays are the true driving force behind a cues cost. Since the middle 1960ís the materials used in the inlayed designs have been taken to a new level, Ivory, Gold, Silver, Platinum, Rare Exotic woods, and even Gem stones are common place today. While this will increase a cues value, it has no effect on the cues playability, which is the most important factor that should be considered when considering a cue purchase. The difference these types of design and construction have on the playability of cue can be judged by testing the different forms of construction to find out which one will suit your needs. I truly hope that this information will help educate the novice players who are in the process of making their first cue purchase. My intent here is not to give a detailed explanation of cue construction, it is however my intent to give the buyer enough knowledge to see a difference in cues on a rack, and ask the necessary questions in order to find the type of cue, with the playability they desired. Again, as I said last week when you enter a billiard equipment store in search of the perfect cue for your needs, ask questions if you due not receive reasonable answers, and are not allowed to chalk the cue and test hit some balls you may want to consider making a purchase somewhere else.




BUYING YOUR FIRST POOL CUE

(September Issue 2003)

Hello, and let introduce myself. I am originally from St. Louis, Missouri and I have been involved with this wonderful sport since the early 1970ís. I joined the US. Army in August of 1980 and retired 1 February 2003. I have always loved this sport and upon my retirement I had to make a decision what to after the Army. With allot of help and support from friends and the local billiard community I started selling billiard equipment in June of 2002. First from my home and then on May 28th I moved my business to a 750 sq ft storefront located in Lakewood, Washington.

Lets start at the beginning, how should someone choose their first cue? This question is by no means simple and will vary depending on who is asked. But from my experience the best way to accomplish this, is to test hit balls with a variety of cues that have different weights, different joints, and different shaft sizes. Keeping this in mind I would make the following recommendations to anyone who wants to purchase a pool or billiard cue.

Recommendation 1:
Gather as much information as possible about cue sticks and never buy a cue stick without first testing hitting balls with the cue you intend to purchase. Some people may say that this really is not important to me because I do not know one cue stick from another and I can really can not feel a difference between cues. While their statement may be partly true, it is also incorrect, because who knows better how anything feels than the person with the cue in their hands and knowledge about a subject or not will not change how something feels. The most common mistake people seem to make when purchasing a cue stick, is made when they enter a Billiard or Gaming retail store without researching what they intend to purchase. This is further complicated by employees who are selling products for a retailer that have in most cases no more knowledge than the customer they are trying to sell the item too. In most business a sales person must be very familiar with the products that they sell. However, when it comes to billiards there are many retail outlets that no longer only specialize in Billiards Equipment. Most large retail outlets today sell a broad range of products from pool tables and accessories to pin ball machines.

This lack of specialized knowledge is very easy to identify in the following manner. In most cases all you will have to do is ask the sales person if you can test a particular cue stick by making some shoots with it. In many cases the buyer will find that, retailers do not even have a pool table set up for this purpose ( How can you purchase a cue without making some shots with it). Next ask the sales person where the chalk is, this in most cases will get you a startled look and the following answer, we do allow our customers to chalk pool cues in this store (How can you test a cue without chalking the tip) and by the way please do not shoot to hard if you damage it you bought it ( if you are told not to shoot hard because you may damage the cue, it may be time to think about another brand). But all is not lost; because this is the easiest problem for the player to fix, either the equipment retailer will allow you to chalk the cue and test hit some balls with it, or you should serious consider making a purchase somewhere else. If enough people demand to be treated correctly things can change. The feel of a particular cue is the most important factor in a cue selection. This factor will determine more than any other, the way you will play using this cue and this is not influenced by the price of the cue. The feel of a cue is known to most accomplished players as the cues hit. The way a cue hits, is a direct reflection of the materials used in construction, the construction techniques, the balance and weight of the cue, along with the cues tip. Hit quickly translated, is the harmonic vibrations that resonate through the cue when the tip strikes the cue ball. Keeping this in mind, it should be easy to understand that no two cues will ever hit exactly alike. I can not even recall how many times I have heard people say WOW I need to get one of those cue sticks, and while two identical cues will in most cases have a similar hit, the hit will never be identical. There will always be minor differences in the way a cue feels when it strikes the cue ball. In addition, what is a good hit, weight, and feel to one person is not always the same to someone else. This is why without test hitting balls with a cue the buyer in many cases is unsatisfied after the purchase.

Recommendation 2:
Check the cue for defects in the cues construction. This is not a very difficult process. First roll the shaft on a flat surface (Preferably on a pool table) and look for any wobbles in the shafts roll. When looking for wobbles check the shaft from above and from the side. Next roll the butt of the cue. When checking the butt of the cue bend down low and roll the butt slowly, look from the front to the back of the butt for any wobble or for the cues joint or but cap to raise up off the table when rolled. This is one area most people do not check due to the belief that a cues butt will not warp, but in many cases when an assembled cue has a wobble the problem is actually in the cues butt. Once you have determined that the cue is reasonably straight check for defects in the cues finish. This is a very simple process take your hand and run it over all areas were there is wood and other materials that are joined together. Start on the shaft, run your hand along the cues shaft from the joint collar to the cues ferrule. Check to see if the ferrule is flush with the portion of the shaft that it is attached to. Then check the joint collar to insure it is flush were it is joined to the shaft, also check the joint to see that the material used is covered by the cues finish. Next check the cues butt, start at the joint were the to see if the joint material is even and flush with the cues forearm. Then run your hand over the cues points and inlays, to check that they are also flush and not protruding through the cues finish. Then check the cues wrap, make sure that it is tight with no loose spots, do this by griping the cue tight at the top of the wrap and slowly turning the cue in your hand while gripping it tightly from top to bottom. During this test there should be no movement of the cues wrap. When you have finished with the wrap check the cues butt. You do this using the same method that was used on the cues forearm. Run your hand over the inlays to make sure that they are flush and not protruding from the cues finish. These are problems are the most common encountered when buying a cue stick, however, they are not the only problems that are encountered when buying a cue stick and this article is only designed to offer the basic information that is necessary when buying a cue stick.

Recommendation 3:
Do not over spend on your first cue stick purchase. What I mean by this is simple, cue sticks can cost from forty dollars to many thousands of dollar. While it is important to find a cue stick that is not defective and feels good to you when you are shooting with it, your first purchase in my opinion should cost no more than one hundred to one hundred fifty dollars including a case. That way a person can get a good playable cue that will last and more importantly will allow them to perfect their skills. Something retailers should consider, with this process in mind is a cue trade-up program. These programs are designed to allow players who have purchased a cue from a retailer to trade that cue in at later for a more expensive model. It also in most cases assures the retailer of a future sale. The amount of allowance given towards the purchase of a new cue is based on the condition of the cue at trade-in. If the cue is as new or close to it full purchase price should be given toward a higher priced cue (normally a hundred dollars or more). This program is also great for new players to this sport. It allows them to sharpen their skills and as their skill grows to upgrade their equipment to match their new abilities with less cost.

Recommendation 4:
Shop around. Cues are like any other item you will purchase; they will have many designs, colors, and styles that are designed with buyers in mind. Prices can be different on the average by as much as 20% or more from store to store. Many production cue manufacturers will allow a retailer to advertise no more than a 20% discount of the suggested manufacturers retail price. However, with the advent of the internet buyers can get a good idea how much a particular item should cost, and while I do not recommend that a novas player makes their first cue purchase online, I do think that they can gather the necessary information they need to purchase a cue and they can get a feel for pricing a particular type or model of cue by using the information that is currently available on line.

Thanks for taking the time to read my column; I hope that the information is helpful. Any beginning player who uses this information, as a guide should be able to purchase their first cue and purchase a cue that suits their individual needs.




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