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how to safely package cues for transport

over the past couple of years i've probably sent or received 75 cues or more, and it's sad to report around 1 in 4 tend to arrive with me with some form of damage in transit, albeit usually quite minor thankfully. i probably over package cues i send myself, but i thought i'd put together this guide to help anyone who may be shipping a cue for the first time.. or even sending one to yours truly!

who to use?

i thought firstly i'd give a run down on carriers i'd use.

royal mail
for packages under 150cm in length, you can send a cue bargain basement via royal mail standard parcels for 4.41, but bear in mind the basic level of insurance is only 39 so for most old cues you'll need to add on additional goods in transit cover (1 to 100, 2.25 to 250). the deliver time on this service is usually 2-3 days, but is completely untracked should a delay occur.

by far my favourite company to use is www.interparcel.co.uk. they resell tnt & ups service for 12, will collect from your door (same day in many cases), and deliver nationwide in 1 day (tnt) or 2 says (ups). again it is worth noting that the standard level of compensation is only 50, so you may want to increase this. both the ups and tnt services are fully tracked.

what to use?

cues are generally shipped in cardboard or plastic tubes, metal hanging type cases you see in clubs, or sometimes box style cue case. see picture below

pic here soon

my personal preference is the plastic or cardboard tubes (both equally good). these offer a solid and secure protection, with nothing inside to damage the cue and plenty of room for some nice protective bubble wrapping tip and butt to prevent rattle damage!
the metal club style tubes are strong but very narrow and don't leave much room for protecting the surface of the cue - often a cue will not go inside even with a very thin layer of bubble wrap and should never be forced. cues should also never be sent completely loose in these cases, the cue will definitely be scratched from rattling around against the metal inside, so its best to buy some of the white foamy protective sheets (or as a last resort newspaper can be used to tape 5-6 sheets around the cue) and then use some scrunched up newspaper and/or cardboard around the bottom of the cue to prevent the cue rattling.
cue cases are great for taking your cue to and from the club, they aren't however great for sending cues long distance by courier/carrier. i work in the parcel industry and the mail order standard states a parcel must be able to withstand a 5ft drop test... now imagine picking up your cue case and throwing it off your staircase...! even with strong aluminium type cases, some damage is likely to occur.. but with wooden framed cases be they wood finish, leather, leatherette, the chances of the plywood frame surviving without some mega bubble wrapping is remote! so if you are selling a cue and case like this, don't spare the bubble wrap!

anything else?

i'm sure i've forgotten a lot i meant to add, but as it happens i have to go pack up a cue i'm sending out tomorrow!
one thing i would advise.. it's always a good idea to add a return address to your packaging so if something does occur the cue has a chance of making it home!