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View Full Version : Finger Lathe, Pocket Knife, & Calibrated Eyeballs



SpiderMan
03-15-2005, 09:54 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote pooltchr:</font><hr> Replacing the ferrule isn't that hard, but trimming it down to the size of the end of the cue is going to be tough unless you have a lathe. <hr /></blockquote>

The above quote from Pooltchr reminded me of a friend (now deceased) from Dallas whose cue repair techniques were quite unusual. I'm wondering if anyone else knows a similar practitioner:

His name was Cecil Lowery, and he used the simplest of equipment - an electric drill, a pocket knife, and his hands.

Tip replacements were the mainstay of Cecil's repairs. He'd hold the drill with his feet, spinning the shaft with the appropriate threaded pin. His hands were the lathe "chuck", his pocketknife the tool bit, and his eyes and fingers the measurement gear. He'd encircle the spinning shaft with the fingers of one hand, and hold the pocketknife with the other. Off comes the old tip, glue on the new, size, finish, and crown using just the hand-held knife.

At first I wasn't that impressed, despite the fact that Cecil turned out results that looked as good as what I do on my machinist's lathe. After all, I figured I could do it like Cecil if I really wanted to.

Then one day I watched him replace a ferrule using the exact same setup! He held the drill with his feet and the shaft with one hand. In his other hand was the same old Barlow, and I swear it looked as if he had a power feed on a lathe - back and forth, about 10 or 20 thousandths at a pass, until he had the old ferrule off just as clean as a whistle.

I just had to hang around until he was ready to trim the replacement ferrule, and sure enough - feet on the drill, shaft in one hand, back-and-forth with the pocketknife, shavings coming off in a spiral just as if I was doing it on my Atlas. He trimmed the goddamn ferrule perfectly flush using just his old pocketknife, finished it up with sandpaper, flattened the crown, put on a tip, and handed it to me to inspect. I couldn't find a single flaw with the result.

SpiderMan

Deeman2
03-15-2005, 11:30 AM
Spiderman,

I don't have Cecil's all round skills but I do finish my tips with a file. Being an old toolmaker, I knew I could work them in as well as a lathe. I shape both the sides and tip with a mill bastard, then burnish the sides.

Deeman

SpiderMan
03-15-2005, 11:43 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Deeman2:</font><hr> Spiderman,

I don't have Cecil's all round skills but I do finish my tips with a file. Being an old toolmaker, I knew I could work them in as well as a lathe. I shape both the sides and tip with a mill bastard, then burnish the sides.
Deeman <hr /></blockquote>
Same here, I crown tips with a file that I made using PVC half-rounds lined with sandpaper. But I've never seen anyone but Cecil do a ferrule by hand.

SpiderMan

DickLeonard
03-15-2005, 12:22 PM
DEEMan 35 years ago Jimmy"The Springfield Rifle" was playing Boston Joey at the Albany Golden Cue when he lost his tip. He went around the room trying to borrow a cue, he came up to the desk to see if he could borrow mine I said what is wrong. I lost my tip he said, I will have one in 5 minutes.

I got out the hot melt glue gun heated up the glue,cleaned off the ferrule and sanded the tip,applied the glue. Took a Razor knife trimmed the sides,sanded the tip,magic markered the side to give it the black look, then buffed the sides and 5 minutes later he was back playing with his cue. ####

LARRY_BOY
03-15-2005, 12:27 PM
Cecil sounds like a talented man. I was wondering if he ever cut himself during the process. Like they say....don't attempt this at home.

SpiderMan
03-15-2005, 01:20 PM
Hot-melt glue for tip attachment was also a brief fad back in Memphis around 1973-1974. Interesting that this seems to coincide with the era of your story as well. As I recall, the practitioners would dab on the glue, quickly press on the tip, and then bang on it with something (beer glass or shoe heel) as it cooled. Then they'd invert the cue, tip-down vertical on the edge of the bar, and trim the sides with a pocket knife. Crude, but fast.

SpiderMan

Chopstick
03-15-2005, 06:25 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote SpiderMan:</font><hr> Hot-melt glue for tip attachment was also a brief fad back in Memphis around 1973-1974. Interesting that this seems to coincide with the era of your story as well. As I recall, the practitioners would dab on the glue, quickly press on the tip, and then bang on it with something (beer glass or shoe heel) as it cooled. Then they'd invert the cue, tip-down vertical on the edge of the bar, and trim the sides with a pocket knife. Crude, but fast.

SpiderMan <hr /></blockquote>

Me and Jack Hunter were doing them for a while. I think I still have that old Sears glue gun we were using. We had some problems with tips coming off so we stopped doing it. Jack picked up the idea from somebody passing through town.

onepocketchump
03-15-2005, 10:47 PM
I wasn't nearly as talented as Cecil but I used to do tips pretty well with a drill - a curved sander - a razor knife -and several grades of sandpaper

My tips looked better than factory new and I had lot's of business at tournaments

I didn't do ferrules at all - I was afraid of them

John

Rich R.
03-16-2005, 03:50 AM
Although Joe Blackburn, who does cue repair at the U.S. Open, uses a lathe, he does all of the trimming on tips with an unprotected razor blade, which he holds in his fingers.
He told me that you only make a mistake once, before learning how to do it correctly.

DickLeonard
03-16-2005, 07:45 AM
Spiderman I was doing it in the 60s, I showed the method to Pete Balner of Palmer Cues and he started selling the glue gun and glue in his sales catalog. He was the one who created the demand for the gun.

In all the years I was running poolrooms I never had a tip pop off. Wear the tip out yes but not fall off. I would cut the glue in small slices then place it on the tip,take the hot gun, melt the wax and apply the tip. Letting the glue run out of the gun produced to much glue and it would take precious time to clear the excess.

To this day I still use the glue gun I think my tips are at least 5 years old and just getting broken in. If I was using Blue Diamonds I would have had to change them.####

Deeman2
03-16-2005, 09:25 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Chopstick:</font><hr> Me and Jack Hunter were doing them for a while. I think I still have that old Sears glue gun we were using. We had some problems with tips coming off so we stopped doing it. Jack picked up the idea from somebody passing through town. <hr /></blockquote>

<font color="blue"> Chop,

Do you remember when Jack was making the ferrels out of old balls? He made some pretty neat looking ones. I had him make one out of an eight ball for my thin snooker shaft. I still have it. Jack could slick a shaft up as smooth as anyone. </font color>

Deeman
we will miss Chopstick at PettyPoint this weekend....

Chopstick
03-16-2005, 10:33 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Deeman2:</font><hr> <font color="blue"> Chop,

Do you remember when Jack was making the ferrels out of old balls? He made some pretty neat looking ones. I had him make one out of an eight ball for my thin snooker shaft. I still have it. Jack could slick a shaft up as smooth as anyone. </font color>

Deeman
we will miss Chopstick at PettyPoint this weekend.... <hr /></blockquote>

Yeah, they were cool. I had one of his half brad scuffers I carried for 20 years, It was stolen when my truck got broken into. They stole a cigarette lighter adapter cell phone charger and that scuffer alone on a key ring. They couldn't have known what it was. What a waste. I had carried it my entire pool playing life. It was a prized possesion.

Well I've gotta head up to South Carolina today. Send me some pics.

Ralph S.
03-16-2005, 03:19 PM
Rich, you don't know how true of a statement that is. My friend and I also use bare razor blade to shape and trim tips.

DickLeonard
03-17-2005, 06:48 AM
I would use a Barbers straight edge with razor insert to start the cutting then switch to a single edge razor to finish.####

SpiderMan
03-17-2005, 08:08 AM
I use carpet-knife blades, hand-held, but only on tips. I don't think I'm ready to trim ferrules by hand. That was the pocketknife trick of Cecil's that amazed me. And he would never stop talking to you as he worked - I think he felt as much as saw what he was doing.

SpiderMan