Aside from protecting your cue from humidity, the other caution you must take is caring for your cue tip. Since the tip is active in every one of your shots, it is of utmost importance to have a good tip at all times. The cue tip is also very important to keep clean. It’s cleanliness will affect backspin, accuracy, touch, smoothness of stroke, and precision of each and every shot that you take. When the pool cue is not in use, it should be maintained by by protecting the cue’s tip from any foreign dings, scrapes, gouges, or anything else that may otherwise be of potential danger. Finally, you must remember that the tip itself should always be covered when not in play.
The spin/speed ratio on the cue ball depends primarily on the actual tip-ball contact point. You seldom want to hit the ball right in the middle, you don’t want to miscue, and you want to have precise control of the spin. Therefore, a rounded tip is better than a flat tip. You shape the tip with a tip scuffer, a file, a piece of 400-600 sandpaper, and other similar abrasive tools. Most players like their tips rounded.
In the case of well-rounded tips, miscues occur when the tip slides on the surface of the ball. Along with other reasons, this happens when the tip doesn’t hold chalk. The tip doesn’t hold chalk when it is packed down from hitting the cue ball and the surface is slick. If you tap the tip to give the surface some texture, it will hold the chalk better. You can buy special tools to tap the tip, or you can use a rasp, or a coarse file, or coarse sandpaper glued to a wood backing can be rolled over the tip surface. Scuffing with sandpaper also works, but it wears the tip away too fast. For maximal tip life, tap more, scuff less.
Tips can also mushroom, meaning that the leather bulges at the sides so that the tip is wider than the ferrule. Most pool players prefer to remove this bulge. The best way is to use a lathe, but there are other methods too. Fine sandpaper (600 grit or finer) can be used, but some care should be taken not to scratch the ferrule. Cutting tools designed especially for this purpose are available, and pocket knives and razor blades can also be used, but utmost care should be taken to avoid ferrule damage. After the mushroom bulge has been removed, the edge of the tip can be polished by wetting the sides and rubbing the leather edge firmly against the cloth on the top of a cushion or against a leather pad.
It is also important to maintain not only the tip, but also the ferrule. Over time, chalk, dirt, and other foriegn substances can build up on the ferrule and will embed on your pool cue like a tar substance. Cleaning the ferrule and tip of your pool cue regularly, by simply wiping it down (ensuring that you fully dry it off) can help to prevent this buildup from occuring. This will make for a smoother, cleaner, and better playing shaft, which can only serve to improve your game, and extend the pool cue’s life span.