I was born in Windsor, Ontario and began playing pool at about the age of 15. For a few years in my early twenties I worked at the Dufferin Game Room where we did a fair amount of tip replacement and repair. Trips to the main cue-manufacturing operations facility in Toronto were always amazing and my interest into how cues were constructed was sparked. Soon after leaving Dufferin I had local players coming to me directly for cue repair since I had built up a reputation for quality workmanship. I soon purchased a Porper Model B which allowed me to do a lot more than tips and ferrules, I could now offer re-wraps and make replacement shafts.
In 1998, I married and moved to Michigan…of course bringing my cue lathe in tow. The local pool scene was hot, lots of tournaments and repair work to be done. I have always been intrigued by the beautiful custom cues that good players seemed to have, names like Joss West, Szamboti, Black Boar, Richard Black and Joel Hercek cues, they seemed to be everywhere. My mind became consumed with the idea of building something on par with these masters.
Over the years my small shop started to grow, new machinery was added and capabilities increased. I finally purchased a pantograph machine…which allowed me to start doing inlays in cues…but sitting in front of it manually digging holes in cues and cutting inlays sucked. My main job as a producer was working on live shows and meeting production for the automotive industry, part of that involved doing room layouts using AutoCAD. The software intrigued me how things could be drawn completely to scale and a space could be visualized well before ever stepping into it.
A colleague of mine made a simple comment one day…”hey I wonder if you could use this software to design inlays for your pool cues…” This amazing idea hit me…and the search for a CNC milling machine was on! Within 5 months I was designing and cutting inlays using the latest computer technology…without being limited to the simple templates I had for the pantograph.
Over the years I’ve had the good fortune to meet many legendary cue makers and found all of them to be friendly and gifted artists. Cue making is an interesting pursuit and seems to attract people of extremely high-intelligence and good taste. I can tell you from personal experience that to build a great cue requires deep knowledge of many many things. A cue maker has to understand woods, glues, metals, clear coats, plastics…the list never seems to end. Cues are one of the few things that involve so many varied materials, all of which have their own challenges and characteristics. Bringing it all together into one finished piece that is expected to play flawlessly is not without patience, passion and pursuit.
For me, this has always been a labor of love…the precision craftsmanship and artistry behind the inlay and design. Over the next few years I plan to build some cues and work on inlay designs that have been in my head forever…but that I’ve never found the time to start. My cues have always been influenced by works of the masters I revered. In the next chapter I’ll be taking a slightly new direction…putting all of the knowledge I’ve gained from the last 20 years and combining it with some challenging new designs. Honestly I can’t wait…as I write this I’m torn between finishing up this page…or heading into the shop to finally try the new water-cooled spindle I purchased.
The urge is just too strong……time to make some sawdust!