Wednesday, March 6, 2013

DIY Low Deflection Cue Shaft

Ghetto Low Deflection Shafts

We are settled into the new house and I've ended up spending more time than I expected these last few weeks learning how to play pool again. I have a lot less free time these days than I did a dozen years ago, so now I feel like I need to be more effective in my pool practice. In college I could practice for hours on end, but it is time to get more focused. I wanted to start with a low-deflection cue, but without the high cost - especially given that I'd like a low-deflection shaft for breaking, shooting, and one for keeping at work (we have a 9' Olhausen in the office).

Years ago I shot with a Predator 314 shaft, so I was curious if I could get similar low-deflection characteristics by lowering end-mass, just drilling out the first 6" of my shaft. There is a lot of shaft marketing, but after a bit of reading it seemed like far and away the most significant factor is end-mass. I did not find anything online about how to do this, so just thought I'd give it a shot.

We have a set of abused two-piece generic Chinese cues in the office, so that is where I started my experiment. I don't have a cue lathe, and getting one would be more expensive than just buying myself some shafts. I don't have a stand-up drill press, and I think even with a drill press making sure to drill exactly straight is difficult. Here is the ghetto rig I came up with to solve my problem.

I bought a set of extra long brad point drill bits on Amazon and a bit of 1/2" copper pipe. The copper pipe is just a bit larger than 13mm, giving me room to put some tape around the shaft. I attached this to a mitre box, attached the box to the edge of my work bench along with my drill. My work bench has a nice bit of angle-iron as coping, which is about as straight as I could hope. I spent a bit of time shimming up underneath the back of the drill and beneath the mitre box, but ended up with something pretty darn close to straight. 

I used the mitre box saw to chop off the top of the ferrule, reducing its size and tried drilling out a shaft. Unsurprisingly the first shaft was not perfect.

You can see that the hole I drilled was less than the shaft doweling that went into the ferrule - more on that in a minute. After slowly drilling out about 5 1/2" from this shaft I used spray foam insulation to fill the void, hoping to prevent the cue from feeling too hollow.

From there I shaved off the end with a razor, sanded it down with a Tweeten cue sander and glued on a LePro tip.

I bought a long 5/16 18 bolt from Home Depot to mount in my drill so I could spin the shaft to finish the tip and sand down the diameter of the cue to ~12mm and give this garbage cue a pro taper. Nothing particularly difficult about that part, just a bit of time.

The hole gives me significantly less surface area to glue to. I also was worried that this might feel very hollow or might hit a bit oddly for straight shots given that there was effectively no support where the hole is. None of that ended up being true. The cue shot surprisingly well - reducing the deflection around a full ball's width from the headstring to the foot of the table.

With this slight success I decided to move along to my break cue and sneaky pete. This time my drilling was perfectly straight and I drilled out around 6 1/4" from the end. I spent a bit more time getting the taper just right and used a Mori medium tip on the sneaky pete.

Ok, now here is a problem with this method. The final cue I drilled out was an old antique cue. The dowling inside the ferrule was about the same size as the hole I was drilling - but foolishly I went ahead and drilled it out anyway. When I was sanding down the sides of the tip I had pressure perpendicular to the shaft and SNAP - off came the ferrule.

I tried to recover from this disaster by gluing in a piece of plastic on both the ferrule and shaft side, but in trying to get everything lined up perfectly the shaft ended up cracking. Whoops.

In the end I would say that for inexpensive cues this is a great way to turn them into something useful. Of course if you can afford the real deal I'm sure your money is well spent, but if you're looking for a cheap way to get results maybe you could give this a try and hopefully improve on my first attempts. I bought three more sneaky petes from Muellers and expect to be able to turn them into very nice playing cues with low deflection as well.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Google Drive PDF

Who knew that Google Drive could give you an iframe to render a PDF - that's pretty pimp...

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012 Resolutions

In addition to my continuances / evolutions of my 2011 goals, I'll be picking up a few extra nuggets. Here is what I've come up with so far:

Walk Slightly More
2011 was a big data tracking year for me and one of those things I tracked was my walking distance with my fitbit. I walked just shy of five miles a day this past year. I haven't actually run the numbers quite yet, but this resolution will be to increase the total steps taken by 20%.

Read one book every month
I know, I really should read more - but it's so easy to get distracted by other things. This year I will read a book each calendar month.  This could be any type of book, including an audio book - the goal here is to really keep it up and make it a habit.

Meatless May
This one is not all that difficult, but I'm putting it in here for completeness - no meat in May. I have done this several times, but it has always been March. This year I'd like to enjoy corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick's day.

Agua April
A co-worker told me that a friend of his was drinking nothing but water for a month. This is right up my alley, so in April I'll not consume any drinks other than plain old water.

Android and App Engine
Develop a useful (to me) Android application and App Engine app. I have been wanting to do this for a long time but have just never done it... now all I need is a problem to solve.

With buying the new house and selling the existing houses our finances are a bit more chaotic than I would like. Add to that that I have just not been too focused on our finances over the past couple years. This resolution is to get organized with our finances.

Hard Flip
I've got a few flippity type tricks in my skateboarding repertoire, but one glaring omission is the hard flip. It seems like every other little whipper snapper out there has them, but I've never landed one. This goal is to land one hard flip in 2012 - my shins already hurt just thinking about it.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Comes to an End

I made 2011 a year of challenging resolutions for myself. I'm happy to say that unless I have a breakdown in the next couple hours I've been successful. Reflecting back on this year I would say that these resolutions were difficult, but not always for the reasons I expected. The overall theme is that I learned how socially important food and drink are. I'll be embracing some of this successes as 2012 habits, but have some new resolutions I will post tomorrow.

Weekday Vegetarian: I'll stick to it in 2012, but have exceptions to avoid social awkwardness.
During a typical week this was easier than it sounds. I have such great meatless options during the weekdays. For the most part our dining out occurs on the weekends. We do not prepare family-style meals, so it is somewhat easy for me to do my own thing. I feel healthier and I certainly do not want to go back to binge style meals. Allowing myself only fresh fruits and veggies during the weekday evenings is easy and probably good for me.

The social impact during travel, vacation, holidays, and when people have been visiting were HUGE though. Eating only uncooked vegetables and fruits at night, nothing salted, pickled, dried was incompatible with eating out. Restaurants prepare food; I don't eat prepared food at night on a weekday. There were a handful of nights during the year where I had the choice of breaking my resolution or being a dick in one of two ways - skipping the social gathering entirely, or sitting there at a restaurant not eating anything. I feel awkward and out of sorts, but worse is that I make everyone else feel this way. I won't be doing that again, but I'm glad I was able to stick to it. Making a difficult goal and sticking to it matters to me even though people may have a tough time understanding my motivation.

Dry 2011: Drinking again in 2012, but no more than one drink a day.
Outside of the occasional social awkwardness (wine tasting trip at work, avoiding people during toasts) this resolution was not that difficult, even for a beer lover. We've certainly had some rough times this year, with health problems, baby stress, and home repairs. Being able to have a beer to take the hard edge off that stress would have been a positive thing.

There were two motivations behind this resolution - Stacey being pregnant, and wanting to reduce empty calorie intake. To keep myself restrained a bit my new rule will be no more than one alcoholic drink a day. No gaming the system either (drinking a pint of vodka before midnight followed by one directly after). The spirit of this rule is to allow me to taste something I enjoy and not go overboard.

No Desserts: Glad that is over, now a new twist.
Although I could have made myself a dessert according to my resolution, I never did. I enjoy sweets, probably more than the average guy so this was difficult. Given that candy, cake, and ice cream are everyday items at the office I think this was a good rule. You need to get your calories from somewhere, so I satisfied my cravings by picking away at different high calorie items like dried fruit, nuts, and granola. Those items aren't quite as bad as jelly beans and chocolate bars though. The new twist is that I will allow myself no more than one dessert per week and one empty-calorie fried thing per week (french fries, potato chips, crab rangoons, jalepeno poppers). This one will be tough at those summer BBQs where all foods are in this category.

Lose as much weight as Stacey Gains: Done, and keeping it off.
I was told that unless I cut off my legs I would not win this one. My legs are still around and I did accomplish this goal. I should not say "win" as Stacey was not an active participant, merely a pace car. I had no idea if I had any chance of succeeding, especially since Stacey was a moving target. I lost around 40lbs by April (and had a bout with gall stones/sludge as a result) and have had an amazingly stable weight since then. I love the balance of diet and exercise I have and will largely be sticking to my new habits. I walk for miles each day; I don't have to workout hard but stay very active.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

How Can We Help?

Folks seem quite interested in helping out with our new little bundle. That is great! We certainly could use it... the challenge is letting people know what we need, otherwise our pile of balloons, cards, and house plants build up and our to-do list continues to grow. Here is our spreadsheet of to-do and to-buy items (note the two sheets). If you are interested in helping out this would be a great place to look for ways to help out Josie, Stacey, and Ryan.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Josie Marie

At 3:18PM on July 8th Josie Marie Shea was born at the Birthing Inn at Loudoun Hospital. Weighing in at 9 lbs 8.9 oz and 20" long.