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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Finger/stage manipulation » » Wooden billiards; wax or rosin? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Profile of charlie_d
Old school I know, but now that we have several suppliers of reasonable quality wooden billiards - is it best to:

Apply something to the balls:

- wax the balls (old vaudeville trick, aparently; white candle wax or roughing stick both work great)
- rosin the balls, e.g. with rosin spray (dancers rosin, mechanics grip solution or similar)

Apply something to the hands:

- Golden touch lotion
- Corn husker's lotion
- A (literal) mechanic's "grip" solution
- Wet look hair gel
- Vagisil
- Gamer's grip salves
- Weightlifter's chalk/silica grip solution/spray


One set of wooden billiards is like real magic and work fine whatever. But I have one other set of wooden billiards that need something applied in order to be p**lmable; either wax or a rosin spray works fine. Both need to be "topped up" before a performance, but both options are easy to do and pretty much totally no-mess and non-toxic. But if I don't do this application, the balls are way too slippy; with dry hands it's like they're made of glass (in a bad way).

I've found that treating the balls rather than the hands works best (stop tittering now), because the grip is the same but the hands are then smoother for sleights in other routines; the rosin stays on the balls and very little of it transfers to the hands. So the best option I've found is a dilute rosin spray on the balls; 2 squirts per ball then at least 30 seconds to dry. This leaves the balls VERY grippy; you can then do all the moves in a very relaxed way - much, much better than silicone balls, which I find work fine with dry hands as long as your routine is fast, but slip a little if you need to hold something out for a second or two, and if your hands get sweaty, you're in trouble. With rosin the ball is rock-solid and will not move until you want it to, and it sticks even harder if your hands are wet. You could stand there for ten minutes, no problem.

Anyone else have some kind of ball/hand lotion they use that they're willing to share?
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Inner circle
1860 Posts

Profile of Anatole
The hand lotion I've used is rosewater and glycerin, recommended by my mentor Earl Edwards back in the 1960's.
Russ Walsh endorsed rosewater and glycerin in the July 15, 1917 issue of _The Sphinx_ saying:
"Rosewater and glycerin is a good anti-slip for billiard ball work and is not disagreeable."

----- Amado "Sonny" Narvaez
----- Sonny Narvaez
Bill Hegbli
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Eternal Order
Fort Wayne, Indiana
22923 Posts

Profile of Bill Hegbli
The rosewater and glycerin mixture has to be mixed in the proper amounts. Unfortunately the sources to get the information has disappeared with the passing of the magicians who provided the correct information.

Never put anything on wood painted balls, it is your skin not the balls fault. Your hands are either to wet or to dry, and that causes the slippage. You also could be holding the balls to tight between your fingers. You have to experiment with how you are holding the balls and the amount of pressure you are applying to the surfaces.

You wanted wood Billiard Balls, and you are finding out why so many prefer the silicon balls. In Cardini's day there was no choice. It was either the real thing with a wood shell or wooden balls with a wood shell.
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Profile of charlie_d
Fantastic replies guys, thanks!
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The devil told me
135 Posts

Profile of RicoGood
I use the Geoffrey Buckingham mixture. It serves me, for the last 20 years, very well. You will find it in his booklet "Its easier than you think".
One part Rosewater - for the smell, and three parts glycerin - for the grip.
gregg webb
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Profile of gregg webb
Elmer's makes a Restickable Glue Stick, used by commercial artsts to paste down a piece of paper but you can peel it up and put it down again elsewhere until you're happy. Like being able to turn any piece of paper into a Post-It. I'm experimenting with it both on my hands and on the balls. Shows some promise. Also, re the wooden balls...it depends a lot on the season too. A white candle rubbed on a ball seemed to work. All a lot of trouble. The silicone balls seems to be the answer.

P.s. Tried Chap Stick. There is a hair product called Jojoba Wax. I want to try Vagisil and then K-Y Jelly. You think I'm joking but I don't joke about billiard balls. The Working Hands hand product is great. Best solution? Silicone balls.
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