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Johnfan
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Tight grain VS straight grain shafts??? - 05-07-2007, 11:50 PM

Hi all you collectors and players. I have heard a lot about buying a cue with good quality shafts so you look for the density/weight to be in the 4oz ball park.

What can you all tell me the fuss about tight grain shaft vs straight grain shaft. A few years ago, everyone wanted straight grain shafts. Once in a while, I hear people wants tight grain shafts.

Does it really feel that different between the two?

Any comments will be appreciated!!

John
  
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dave sutton
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05-08-2007, 12:08 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnfan
Hi all you collectors and players. I have heard a lot about buying a cue with good quality shafts so you look for the density/weight to be in the 4oz ball park.

What can you all tell me the fuss about tight grain shaft vs straight grain shaft. A few years ago, everyone wanted straight grain shafts. Once in a while, I hear people wants tight grain shafts.

Does it really feel that different between the two?

Any comments will be appreciated!!

John
well. i am the type that when i find a shaft i like i keep it. my new jerry cue. one shaft is played. i sent it to him to match up.

heres how it works. the darker the wood the older and closest to the heart of the tree. the heavier and denser the wood. these shafts play stiff.

the lighter the wood the closer to the outside and they are flimsy like a meucci red dot.

alot of ppl dont like to se marks on their shafts but i do.

some ppl bleach their shafts and make them rubbery.

most of the time i can tell you if a shaft will be good by the way it looks.

i had a palmer #17 with a 5 oz shaft right at 13 mm and nice taper too ***wowie***
  
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05-08-2007, 12:36 AM

i love to bleach my rubbery shafts.you have shaft selection down to an exact science.i don't think it is quite as absolute as you describe.
  
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05-08-2007, 12:39 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by masonh
i love to bleach my rubbery shafts.you have shaft selection down to an exact science.i don't think it is quite as absolute as you describe.
nothing is perfect but its a great start. i can tell you the shaft i dont want.

ps the bleach makes the shaft rubbery. maybe u know something i dont...
  
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05-08-2007, 01:10 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnfan
Hi all you collectors and players. I have heard a lot about buying a cue with good quality shafts so you look for the density/weight to be in the 4oz ball park.

What can you all tell me the fuss about tight grain shaft vs straight grain shaft. A few years ago, everyone wanted straight grain shafts. Once in a while, I hear people wants tight grain shafts.

Does it really feel that different between the two?

Any comments will be appreciated!!

John
Hello John, there are many factor's that effect a shafts playability. The difference between tight grain and straight grain is miles apart. First of all, when people talk of straight grain in a shaft they are talking about the growth line that runs the length of the shaft. When people are talking about tight grain they are talking about the number of growth rings a shaft has.

So, when looking at things from this perspective a piece of shaft wood can have both attributes tight grain and straight grain, in fact this combination is what you should look for in good shaft wood.

The growth rings in a shaft will have a tremendous effect on a shafts stiffness and hit. Most shaft wood today purchased by cue makers has a minimum of around 15 growth rings per inch. These rings tell the story of how a tree grew during it's life. Tight and numerous growth rings are caused by a tree being allowed to mature unmolested and unhindered by infections in an environment where there is ample nutrients, water, and sun light. Tree's that fall into this category would by todays standards be considered old growth. These tree's lived for hundreds of years in this pristine environment, and are nearly impossible to find today. Wood that is considered old growth, can have 40, 50 or even more growth rings per inch.

Maple for shafts that fall into this category, are heavy and very strong / stiff due to the tight grain / numerous growth lines. Shafts made from this type of wood are valued by players today for their consistent qualities.

I personally prefer shaft wood with a little to a medium amount of curly effect to it. I have found through time that slightly curly maple shafts, also have a stronger hit, and do not warp at all with time. This effect is caused by compression, and is normally found in the portion of a tree that has a lean to it.

Well I hope this helps, and have a great night!!!!!


Best Regards

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Craig W. Rittel
  
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05-08-2007, 01:19 AM

Great informative post Craig, and right on.

Mike


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05-08-2007, 01:52 AM

Craigs post is spot on, i agree and cant add add anything to it, that i can think of, nice post.


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05-08-2007, 01:57 AM

Thank you for the info Craig...that was great. Can you post a pic of a tight grain shaft vs the one you like....the one with more curly? For my visual learning?

Thanks

John
  
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05-08-2007, 02:04 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnfan
Thank you for the info Craig...that was great. Can you post a pic of a tight grain shaft vs the one you like....the one with more curly? For my visual learning?

Thanks

John
Sorry John, but the resolution in my camera is not good enough to show you what you need to see. I am glad, however that the information helped, have a great night.


Best Regards

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Craig W. Rittel
  
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05-08-2007, 02:14 AM

It's alway's been my understanding that "old growth wood" DID NOT have ample nutrients, water, and sunlight. This was caused by the forrest's in the past being more dense than what we have today. Young trees had to fight for nutrients and sunlight because the older trees had never been logged. This caused the trees to grow at a much slower rate.

You could possibly find some examples of tight grained wood at higher altitudes nowadays because of the low oxygen content but I'm not sure it would be anything useful for shaftwood.
  
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My input - 05-08-2007, 06:52 AM

It seems that when I get good shafts they weight closer to the 4.0-4.2 oz.

Southwest, who I think make heavy cues, didnt want to give me heavier shafts in the range I wanted. FINALLY, they searched and got me what I wanted. (I have JF era ebony cue with (2) 3.6 or so 13mm shafts, I ordered another shaft and it was indeed 4.0 oz.)

I know that cuemakers can change taper, add weight, ect to make the shaft weigh anything. But what I am saying is given 2 shafts, both made the exact same way one weighing 3.5 or less and the other at 4.0, IMO again IMO the heavier shaft will be a better player.

I dont know if it denser, tighter ring count or whatever. I look at it but frankly I might as well be looking at a nuclear reactor for as much as I know about wood.

I just know what I like. I crack me up.

Good luck,

Ken
  
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05-08-2007, 07:23 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hambone
It's alway's been my understanding that "old growth wood" DID NOT have ample nutrients, water, and sunlight. This was caused by the forrest's in the past being more dense than what we have today. Young trees had to fight for nutrients and sunlight because the older trees had never been logged. This caused the trees to grow at a much slower rate.

You could possibly find some examples of tight grained wood at higher altitudes nowadays because of the low oxygen content but I'm not sure it would be anything useful for shaftwood.
This is not completely accurate. You mention some things of value, but they need to be clarified.

The key word in "old growth wood" is old. It does not necessarily mean it grew on a site that was limited in any of the 3 requirements you listed. It could have been nearly an open grown tree. It would have fast growth up to a certain point, then the growth characteristics of the tree would change. After many many years, a tree will simply stop growing as much, and the grain lines will become tighter. If the site is a good site, the wood will be good, just not all of it will have the "old growth" characteristics. If the tree is old enough though, portions of it would be great candidates for good shaft wood.

It is true a site can only sustain so much volume because of limits of nutrients, water, and sunlight. But low nutrients, light, and water do not make old growth wood. The result is poor wood. The grain lines may be close, but the wood will be of poor quality, and some trees will be supressed and die. Natural mortality will take over if there is a limit of of nutrients and water, the trees will not hang on long enough to achieve any idea of old growth. This is a fact in silviculture that cannot be denied. With some of the trees now dead, the resulting ones will either put on more diameter growth, or more height growth, depending on their pecking order in the stand.

If you have older trees that have not been cut, and you have thriving trees in the understory that are healthy because there is sufficient nutrients and water, they will have slow diameter growth, but it will be healthy wood. The tree will be putting on more height growth in order to reach more sunlight. It will eventually become a co-dominant or dominant tree, but by then it will be very mature. Once it reaches that point, he will be an established tree in the stand, mature, and its natural growth rate will be very slow due to its age. It will make for great shaft wood material. Another side affect is because it was an intermediate always fighting for height growth, there will be a smaller crown ratio. There will be less branching towards the bottom of the tree, making cleaner boards with less knots to kill the wood for shaft purposes. These trees are golden for shaft purposes, but not because of limits to nutrients or water. Rather, because of its natural growth dependencies, crown class (its relationship to other trees in the stand), stand changes over time, and maturity.

The trees that are already dominants in the stand as the stand is growing will be putting on more diameter growth due to more sunlight. They will grow taller, but most of the growth will be in diameter. That would make slightly larger gaps between the growth rings, again, until it grows very old and its growth in girth becomes very small naturally.

You can cut any tree down that is lived to be a very old age and track stand changes (and weather to a degree) and its affect on the tree by a growth ring analysis.

Kelly


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Last edited by MVPCues; 05-08-2007 at 07:32 AM.
  
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05-08-2007, 02:32 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kelly_Guy
It is true a site can only sustain so much volume because of limits of nutrients, water, and sunlight. But low nutrients, light, and water do not make old growth wood. The result is poor wood. The grain lines may be close, but the wood will be of poor quality, and some trees will be supressed and die. Natural mortality will take over if there is a limit of of nutrients and water, the trees will not hang on long enough to achieve any idea of old growth.
This is exactly true. Growth rings can be used as an indicator of age but not 100% an indicator of a good solid shaft. Take bonsi trees for example, they grow slowly in harsh conditions causing tight tight lines but the tree is usualy malnurished. Same applies for a maple tree that is growing in such conditions. It can have 35 growth rings per inch but will be low quality wood to use.

Hard, dense woods can not always be told by growth rings or straight grains. Now if you have a really tight grained, heavy, dense shaft then its a keeper. These may or may not be true old growth though. Old growth comes from trees that are old, lets say 100 years or more. These shafts can be denser but also not as "white" as other shafts. But they hit great.

Many shafts today are bleached lily white. But I agree that it does affect the stability of the wood. Wood is organic and fiberous. And bleach is highly corrosive that kills living cells. Soak anything in bleach long enough and it will corode. I would go for an ugly and dense pee-brown shaft that is 100 years old anyday.

vic

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05-08-2007, 04:04 PM

Beside the tightness of the grain and the striagthness of the shaft, some cuemaker also consider the tone of the shaft and the vertical grain. Growth ring and straight line is one thing, the vertical grain of the wood also dictate the quality of the shaft (Some cuemaker use a loop to check the grain quality).

Many of the cuemakers that buys full splice blanks from us agrees that straight grain is one of the best factor for quality shaft with less warpage...high ring growth and tight vertical grain are great if the the grain are straight. Don't know how they check all these factors but I do know that quality shaft dowels are the lifeline for any custom cuemakers. Natural quality shafts value are totally under rated...I would take a great natural shaft over predator, ob1 and any other shaft on the market!

Southwest and most high end cuemakers seem to understand the value of good shafts (Maybe that why their cues plays so well)...wonder what criteria they look for?

Regards,
Duc.


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05-08-2007, 06:52 PM

There's plenty of misinformation here, IMO. Remember, a shaftwood blank with ideal characteristics is only potentially a great pool cue shaft. It must be properly cut and tapered to reveal its best properties for use in a pool cue. The shaft must also be paired to an adequate or better butt. That is where a cue makers skill and knowledge comes in. I believe many of the better cuemakers sort their shaft stock and only use their better stock for their custom cues. The better stock will have some natural variation in weight. Shafts don't need to be 4.0 oz or over to be good shafts. That is simply not true. Someone might prefer heavy shafts or think they need to have them to perform well, but there are shafts that weigh less that are stellar pool cue shafts. The cuemakers supply of "good" or "top" shafts are often paired to a cue in an effort to achieve a certain weight/balance range.

There are only a handful of men or companies who are responsible for supplying the vast majority of hard maple that is used for pool cues worldwide. We enjoy magnificent maple shaftwood because of the knowledge and skill these men have in selecting veneer grade logs and processing the wood into shaft billets or dowels (no small feat). And, the better cuemakers will pay top dollar for the best wood available instead of trying to make $3 shaft blanks work out. This selectivity with woods is part of what a consumer should be paying for in a fine custom made pool cue.

Several grading factors have been mentioned. IMO, the least valuable is growth rings per inch. Although I would hesitate to recommend using a dowel with less than 7-9 growth rings for appearance purposes, I have not found that 20-30 GPI dowels yield shafts that are superlative to 12-15 GPI blanks. Relative straightness of grain, especially on 90% or more of the business end of a shaft is a must, IMO. For me, an ideal pool cue shaft has "good vibrations" as well as an absence distracting cosmetic flaws. YMMV.

Martin

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