View Full Version : CNC Router for pool cue inlays?

10-09-2003, 08:03 PM
Greetings everyone, newbie here. I build pool cues as a hobby and would like to take it to the next level with inlays. This board is great and I've read a lot of the threads. Do you think a small CNC router would be good for this? I know a lot of cuemakers use CNC lathes and mills and I know of one that uses a high end Techno-Isel router. The cue would have to be held in an indexing device, like a spin index, in lieu of a 4th axis. That is no problem, but I am wondering if a small 1"-1.25" round workpiece will work in a router table like the small home made ones I've seen on this board. I believe it is just treated as a flat surface and the inlay pockets are cut flat bottomed. I think accuracy for inlays would need to be in the .002-.003 range. Do you guys get this kind of accuracy with your machines?

Look forward to hearing from you.
Todd L

10-09-2003, 08:14 PM
My father makes Hurricane Cues, he is semi-retired but still turns a few sticks here an there. He uses 2 cnc routers running .020 carbide cutters. One is standard 3 axis for cutting inlays other is 4 axis with rotary device for the pockets. He runs them with a Foredom motor and some little high speed spindle. He also turns the Hurricane symbol in stainless steel which is a very tender setup.

10-09-2003, 10:38 PM
I've got a question.

When you rout the outside of a cylinder, you are cutting a specified depth directly into the cylinder, and essentially cutting out a wedge. The edges of the cut should point towards the center of the form.

If you "unwrap" this shape from the cylinder and lay it flat, the edges would not be square, but would taper towards the bottom.

Then you say that you cut the inlay on another machine, flat...do you bevel the edges so it'll fit better, or is it just a vertical cut? I know inlay is thin, but it still has thickness...and the fit on inlay is usually measured in thousandths of an inch, so tiny differences are obviously significant.

I know I'm not explaining this very well, so I hope you understand my question.

-- Chuck Knight

10-09-2003, 11:08 PM
Chuck, I would say that you would basically cut the perimeter of the inlay perpendicular to the face, if the fit is perfect. Perhaps a tiny bit of draft angle would be advantageous, so that as you press the inlay into the pocket, it fits easily until it is most all the way down, then it gets really snug as the topmost edge scrapes the pocket as you push it home.

You would need to experiment to see how much the inlay grows when wrapped. Chances are, the top 2/3's of it stretches slightly, and the bottom 1/3 compresses slightly. This is what sheet metal workers have to deal with all the time when forming bends.

10-10-2003, 01:10 AM
Hu you are forgetting the bigger hammer theory!:D I am not sure but I thin these guys make their own inlay material and is probably thicker that what we might think. I am curious if they make it thick enough to do the pocket without ever rotating the stick, insert the inlay and then surface off the excess!


10-10-2003, 11:58 AM
Thanks for the replies guys. Chuck, to answer your question, all the pockets, even though cut into a cylinder are still flat bottomed, 90 degrees. So when you cut the inlay material, it should be a press fit right into the pocket. Yes the inlay does need to be thick enough to extend beyond the top center of the cylinder, therefore, it will protrude even more out around the edges. This is fine as the part will be put back in the lathe and all the excess trimmed off.
The inlays are not ' wrapped' around the stick as someone mentioned, but just cut from flat stock and pressed into the pockets of the wood.

Thanks and keep the suggestions coming !!
Todd L
How about that accuracy question?

10-10-2003, 01:35 PM
I would venture to guess that most home made machines CAN get this kind of acuracy if build correcty.


Paul in OK
10-20-2004, 11:59 AM
I have a cuple of friends that due cues. They do 'flat' inlays. One has a cnc cue making machine, the other uses a pantograph mill with a spin indexer, and I make paterns for him. They generally turn to within about .03 to .04 of final diameter, cut the pockets about .100 to .125 deep. Then cut the inlay material at about .125 thickness. HTH