View Full Version : cue materials - maple vs ash?

11-12-2002, 04:07 PM
American pool cues, other than exotics, are primarily maple.
British Snooker cues primarily ash.
Is it cosmetics, weight, availability, etc.?

Chris Cass
11-13-2002, 12:23 PM
Good question. I think it would be hardness. You need Ger or someone like Fred with something like this.


C.C.~~ /ccboard/images/graemlins/confused.gif

11-13-2002, 12:28 PM
I prefer maple, don't like the smell of smoke too much. lol

eg8r <~~Never any help on the technical stuff

11-13-2002, 01:14 PM
I've played with two. They seem fairly stiff compared to maple of the same size. I don't care for the wood grain though. Since snooker shafts are so small this might be the reason. Just a guess.

Fred Agnir
11-13-2002, 03:37 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Chris Cass:</font><hr> Good question. I think it would be hardness. You need Ger or someone like Fred with something like this.<hr /></blockquote>
I think you need to get Tony Matthews to answer this.

Fred &lt;~~~ ask me about assembling plastic

Fred Agnir
11-13-2002, 03:41 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote smfsrca:</font><hr> American pool cues, other than exotics, are primarily maple.
British Snooker cues primarily ash.
Why?<hr /></blockquote>
Completely (well not completely) off topic, but if I recall correctly, baseball players have gravitated towards maple bats where ash used to be the norm. The hit is in the lateral direction, so it might not be as comparable.



11-15-2002, 01:01 AM
smfsrca asks:

American - Maple versus English - Ash - why, oh why?

Fred called, so I'm answering!

First off, let's look at the mechanical properties of the two woods, shall we?

Species Modulus of Elasticity (MPa)
Maple 12,600
Ash 12,000
Specific Gravity
Maple .63
Ash .60
Compressive strength parallel to the grain (KPa)
Maple 35,700
Ash 30,900

Modulus of Elasticity, is an engineering term that basically tells you how stiff a material is (specifically, it is the ratio of stress per unit strain fyi).

So basically, Maple is a bit stiffer than Ash (but not much).

Specific gravity denotes the density of a material relative to water (which is 1.0 fyi). So Maple is a bit denser than Ash (but not much).

The compressive strength parallel to the grain can give you an idea of the dent or ding resistance of a material. Again, Maple is a bit better in this regard.

Actually, the two woods are quite similar in most of the "important" ways, with respect to mechanical properties.

So why one over the other?

Availability might be one issue. Maple is a very common wood in Eastern Canada and the North Eastern USA, so it is relatively easy to obtain good quality wood (although it's getting harder and harder to find top quality shaft wood!).

But I think that the main reason why we see Maple in North America, and Ash in England is tradition.

Maple is the traditional wood for pool cues over here. We see no benefit in using Ash.

While Ash is the traditional wood used for English Snooker cues. You see a lot of ash cues, so that's what players ask for.

Note that Stephen Hendry, Terry Griffiths, and Cliff Thorburn, have all won World Snooker Championships using a Maple cue.
So I don't think that Ash has any performance edge over maple when used in a snooker cue.

The two woods do make a bit of a different sound when you hit the ball though. I find Maple a bit quieter than ash. It absorbs the hit a bit more (likely due to the extra density). I don't think that this really affects the playability, but when you are familiar with the hit of one, it is hard to get used to the other.

Technically, Ash will have a slightly higher "dynamic stiffness" than Maple. This means that once set into motion by an off-center hit, the ash shaft would vibrate at a slightly higher frequency, and damp out the vibration a little bit faster, than a Maple shaft of similar dimensions.

While this will not affect the path of the cue ball, it could affect the feedback a player gets from the hit. Thus, again, you might prefer one over the other.

Also, since ash is a little bit less dense than maple, an ash shaft of identical dimensions to a maple shaft, could have a bit less squirt.

This may, or may not be significant (the difference is likely minor).

Finally, some top players have told me that they prefer to sight down an ash shaft (Snooker pros, not pool) because the "feathers" (the triangular, chevron shaped grain lines typical of an english ash snooker shaft) actually give them an aim reference.

I'm skeptical of this explanation, as I feel that your eyes are on the object ball, so of what use are these lines? But they seem to prefer them for this reason.

Some of the other players, that prefer Maple shafts, like them for the exact opposite reason. That is, they like the clean unobstructed look of a Maple shaft, with no visible grain lines.

I think it's all in what you get used to myself.

Me?, I've got both ash and maple snooker cues. Currently, I am playing with a 17.25 ounce ash/ebony "3/4" cue.

So there you go.

-probably, more than anyone wanted to know....

11-15-2002, 01:14 AM
Thanks Tony for your in depth response. this is exactly what I was hoping for.
Steve in CA