5 Popular Pool Cue Inlay Design Types

If you’re just starting out with pool cue customization, you can feel free to get an overlay. That’s a decal you put on your stick, or a design that wraps around the shaft and sticks on. Overlays are pretty cheap and they’re sold almost everywhere.

But when you want to take it to the next level, you need an inlay on your pool cue. That’s when the design is put into the wood instead of on the wood. The result is much more refined designs, and the potential to turn your cue into a real piece of artwork.

The most common pool cue inlay designs are below. Browse through them and get inspired, or, go your own path and have a design that’s completely unique to you and your game.

5 inlay inspirations for your pool cues

Solid color focus

solid pool cue inlay design

Photo courtesy of McDermott Cue.

If you prefer minimalism, you may want to stick with the basics and add just a bit of flair to your pool cue design.

Select a base color (usually the traditional light tan) and add color blocks throughout to give your pool cue a full, professional look. Feel free to add in subtle design elements, but keep the focus of the eye on the stick as a whole, not the intricacies of the design elements you add. Straight lines and boxes are both common on these types of sticks.


tribal pool cue inlay design Photo courtesy of McDermott Cue.

Tribal pool sticks are extremely common. There are the basic ones with no real flair or personality, like the cheap ones you’d see at your local dive bar. But then, there are the real tribal ones – the ones that have the perfect tribal “look” from head to toe. (We’ll warn you – realistically, for every good tribal pool cue inlay design, you’ll find 10 to 20 bad ones.)

Usually, the more expensive the stick, the better the artwork – but that rule isn’t necessarily set in stone, and you can sometimes grab a good deal with enough looking.

Sharp features

sharp pool cue inlay design Photo courtesy of McDermott Cue.

“Sharp” pool cue inlays will have a series of angled lines going up and down the shaft to create a “quick” look with the stick. If you’re someone who likes speedy gameplay and sinking shots back to back, a design like this might be right up your alley, and it certainly does catch the eye.

This inlay design, is one of our favorite because it’s a nice clean design. When you go to a pool hall, you are likely to see other players with pool cues with these inlays. Next time you go to a pool hall, look around, you will see we aren’t lying.


themed pool cue inlay design

Photo courtesy of McDermott Cue.

Themed overlay decals can come off as tacky or just unnecessary. Especially if they’re placed on regular ol’ pool cues with no other design elements, they’re there, but they don’t do anything to add to the stick.

Themed inlays are much better. Instead of looking like a temporary tattoo, it’s the real thing. You can find commercial inlay designs (like a Frozen pool cue) or you can customize your inlay design (explained below) to add your own.


custom pool cue inlay design

Photo courtesy of McDermott Cue.

Last but not least is the most popular type of design – one you create your own.

You can either customize one part of a stick – like adding a logo – or you can customize everything from the tip to the butt of the stick.

If you’re doing something simple like adding a logo, image, or phrase, you can usually customize your inlays right on retailer websites. You’ll be able to upload your design element, position, it, and preview the cue before you order.

If you want a fully custom stick, you have to find a company that specializes in them like Mcdermott Cue. You pick the type of wood you want and add your design by uploading an image or using the online interface. Overall, it’s pretty simple, though it’s not as cheap as buying a standard pool stick (obviously).

See how pool inlays are made:

You’re on the right track by looking for inspiration – you don’t want just any inlay on the stick you use for your game. Before committing, scroll up to find the right look for your inlay, and once you do, you’ll have an easier time sorting through the unappealing ones. Good luck!

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