How do you repair a dent in a wood shaft?

If the dent really is a “dent” (where the wood fibers have been compressed) and not a “gouge” (where wood has been removed), try putting a drop of water on the dent (e.g., with a cue tip) and let it sit and dry over night. This usually helps swell the fibers back up, restoring the shaft close to the pre-dent condition. If it doesn’t work completely the first time, try again. If the dent pops out too much, lightly sand with very-fine-grit sand paper.

from RSB FAQ:

Small dents can be caused by anything from hitting an overhead light fixture to simply leaning your cue against a table or chair.

If your shaft is made of metal, graphite, or wood covered in graphite, fiber glass, or some other material, then you may need to return the shaft to the manufacturer for repair or replacement. If you have a wood shaft, and especially if the wood fibers are not cut or damaged, then there are several things that you can do yourself to repair the damage, safely, and with minimal risk of making things worse.

If the dent is small, then place a drop of water directly on the dent, let it soak in, and dry overnight; the water softens the wood, and it may return to its natural shape by itself. If this doesn’t work, then fold a few layers of paper towel or tissue paper to a size slightly larger than the dent, place the paper against the shaft, and hold it in place with a rubber band. Wet the paper, and leave it in place overnight. The wet paper allows the water to soak in deeper before evaporating, allowing the wood to return to its natural shape slower than the first method.

If this doesn’t work, then more drastic measures are required. Soak the dented area with water. While the water is soaking into the shaft, boil some water in a steam kettle or tea pot with a thin spout. Heat the dented area with the steam from the spout. The steam heats the water that has soaked into the wood, causing pressure to push out the dent from the inside. Do not allow the steam to heat the ferrule or joint; it may weaken the glue joints. Do not allow the shaft to come close to the stove top, flame, or other heat source. If the spout from your steam kettle is too wide, then try wrapping aluminum foil around the spout, and punch a small hole in the foil with a needle or toothpick. If you don’t have a steam kettle, you can use a regular pot covered tightly with aluminum foil with a small hole in the middle. You can also use the steam from a clothing iron, or from a hand-held suit steamer, but take particular care to not allow the shaft to touch the hot metal. With all of these methods, the water will cause the wood grain to raise and after drying it will feel slightly rough to the touch. You should polish the shaft before using it with a couple of strokes with a leather pad, a clean cloth, or whatever you usually use for routine periodic cleaning and maintenance. When successful, these approaches restore the shaft perfectly to its original form, without the need to use sandpaper.

Some other common suggestions for removing dents are riskier and should probably be avoided. Some examples include placing a wet piece of cloth on the dent and using a hot soldering iron to steam the dent, or using the open flame from a cigarette lighter to expand the dent. Although these methods may work successfully, the same thing can be accomplished without the associated risk of permanent damage to the shaft. In general, try to keep the heat source as far away from the wood as possible.

Another commonly suggested way to remove dents is to rub a glass rod (or a beer bottleneck, or a shot glass, or a glass ashtray, or some other piece of smooth glass) over the dent. This doesn’t exactly remove the dent, but rather it spreads it out over a larger area so that it isn’t as noticeable. Some believe that the glass rod generates heat from the rubbing friction, and this heat removes the dent, but the simpler explanation seems more plausible. Since this approach seems to change the shaft shape slightly, it is not recommended except possibly, as a last resort.

What if the wood fibers are cut or otherwise damaged to the point that the above methods do not work? If you are skilled in woodworking, then perhaps you can sand away the dent; this probably means that the shaft will no longer be exactly round. Another option is to take the shaft to a skilled cue repairman. He will probably use a lathe to remove wood from the shaft; the resulting shaft will be round, but with a different diameter and/or taper than the original. In both of these cases, the shape of the shaft is changed, and the feel and playing characteristics may change with it. Another possibility is to use a drop of firearms-specification two-part epoxy (eg., AcraGlass from Brownell’s, Inc.). It gives good working time, will become thin and penetrate under a 100W bulb, set up quickly when the heat is removed, can be tinted any color, and will sand out with 600 followed by 1200 wet-or-dry silicon carbide paper (local body supply shop) to feel like the original wood.

And finally, in case everything else fails, a new shaft may be purchased for your cue. In some cases, replacement shafts may be purchased simply by specifying your cue make and model; otherwise the old shaft is needed to match threads, joint designs, and taper.

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