The RAVEN shaft isn’t like most shafts. Click here to see one being tested. It is not the typical ‘pro’ taper. It took years, and a lot of trial and error, to develop. Long before I considered making my own cues I played with Meucci cues. Many years ago they were some of the hottest cues around because of the action you could put on the cue ball. With the faster cloths used today they have lost some of their appeal, but that is a different story.
I liked the shafts but they were a little too springy for me. They seemed to be a little less accurate and draw and follow seemed less predictable. My wife will tell you I’ve always liked to tinker. In the summers I played golf and rarely, if ever, touched a pool cue. Being satisfied, at the time, with my golf clubs I started trying to refine my cues. I didn’t have access to a lathe at the time, so I improvised. I used polyurethane to build up one of my shafts. It isn’t what I would recommend but it worked.
My choice was a thick ‘dipping poly’ that I used to refinish the heads of wooden golf clubs. I put coat after coat on the shaft and then sanded it down by hand. To begin with the polyurethane made the shaft a little sticky, but that didn’t bother me. I wore a glove to play even back then. My hands sweat more than most peoples do and powder was just too messy. Pool gloves, like the one I use now, weren’t available so I used a men’s formal dress glove. Anyway the shaft slid through my fingers just fine.
The result was a stiffer hit. It was too stiff at first. So little by little I sanded it down, built it up in different places and sanded it down again. Laugh if you want to, but after about four years I had a shaft that had a stiffer hit but still gave me plenty of action. The only downside was the polyurethane yellowed. I also had to ‘build up’ the joint of the cue to mate up with the increased diameter of the shaft. The Meucci’s were kind of thin at the joint.
When I started making cues I didn’t like the hit I was getting from the pro set-up my taper bar initially cut. So I measured my ‘poly modified shaft’ and readjusted the taper bar to cut a shaft like the one I had created years before. Wood and polyurethane aren’t exactly the same so I had to tweak the taper some. What I ended up with is a shaft that actually has eight different tapers in it. Most are from the center of the shaft back to the joint. The ones in the area that comes in contact with your bridge hand are gentle and unnoticeable to most people because the sanding smooths out the transitions. Others may feel the tapers but find them quite comfortable. Some people have described the feeling of the compound taper as secure in the fingers.
In November of 2003 I created the extended RAVEN Taper. It is identical to the previous RAVEN taper except the stroking area has been lengthened by about an inch and a half. It has become popular for some players to extend the shaft further forward in the bridge hand. The extended taper allows for this modification in technique.
I can, and do, make shafts from about 10mm to 14mm using that same taper. It doesn't matter what the joint pin is. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying my shafts are the best shafts ever made or have the perfect taper. No one size or shaft taper is right for everyone. Like most cuemakers I’ll taper a shaft the way a customer wants it, but if you haven’t tried the RAVEN taper, you really should. You may be very pleasently surprised!
If you are truly intrested in tuning your equipment, it is easy to make a stiffer shaft thinner and more flexible. If you start with a tinner shaft it is much tougher to go the other direction.
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