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John Barton's Criteria for evaluating a case.
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John Barton's Criteria for evaluating a case. - 01-17-2010, 03:33 PM

This is my guide for evaluating the quality of cue case. I hope that it might be helpful to some of you when you are writing your reviews of cue cases and looking at cases in the future. I will try to keep it fairly short and light on the editorial comments. These are my personal preferences and how I feel a case should be built.

1. How well does it protect? I look to see if the cues are kept securely in a non-abrasive cavity. I prefer that the cues are kept snugly so that movement is reduced. For a hard case I check to see that it can withstand a decent amount of impact and pressure. I make sure that the cues are easy to remove and nothing can scratch them when inserting or removing them. When the case is in motion I want to be sure that no parts can touch or bang against each other.

2. How strong are the handles, straps and latches?
From experience I know that cue cases are stressed in different ways than most other types of cases. Thus I look to see that the all the stress points are very secure and durable. I don't want any excess movement when I am pulling on the handles, straps or latches.

3. How comfortable is the case to use? This is also known as ergonomics. Is is easy to insert and remove the cues? Are the handles comfortable to the hand? Does the case sit comfortably on the shoulder and not slip off? How is the balance? Is it easy to get into the pockets?

4. How well done is the fit and finish? For a tube case does the interior and exterior fit snugly together or is it loose? I don't like a case that feels like a loose bag. Are all the edges finished well? Any errant metal pieces sticking out? Are the rivets well done or are they sloppy? Is the stitching straight and tight? Are all the parts lined up right? Basically I look for the little details that either tell me someone really cares or that they don't.


5. How well done is the decoration?
Anyone can tool leather. Not everyone is good at it. So I look at the tooling with a critical eye towards symmetry and execution. I want to see that the tooling was done with a steady practiced hand and that it was laid out to complement the case rather than just to throw a bunch of tooling on the leather. I also value originality over using patterns from others. There are thousands of patterns available from Tandy leather and other sources. Many of these look great when put on a cue case. I like to see tooling that has been drawn from scratch to compliment the case and the theme rather than something that feels like a stock pattern. However, I do give bonus points for taking a stock pattern and making it original by virtue of style.

For inlays, windows, overlays I look at the positioning, proportion, and execution. Is everything lined up correctly?

6. What is the warranty? Cue cases are actually not that easy to do well. So before you spend a lot ask if it has a warranty, what is covered, how long does it last, who pays shipping, etc.... If a case is sold with no warranty then know that if it breaks the repair is likely to be expensive if anyone can be found willing to repair it. Cue cases are typically not easy to repair and for that reason a lot of luggage repair shops won't touch them.

That's about it. Obviously, my criteria are more stringent than most people's and are based on my extensive experience with the subject since I make cue cases. 26 years ago I accepted many cases as well built and great that I wouldn't now. I know that most consumers are unlikely to have much experience with a lot of case brands and especially with custom cases. Most people aren't even in touch with true quality leather work these days. So by writing this, I can give you my own insight as to what I look for and hopefully it helps you to better evaluate what you are looking at.

Last edited by JB Cases; 10-02-2017 at 11:38 PM. Reason: ADDING warranty info.
  
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01-17-2010, 03:47 PM

Hey JB,

I recently bought a talisman tribal 3x5 case in black. I was just wondering what your thoughts on them were? How would you rate them?

I do respect that you take your trade very seriously.



Jw


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01-17-2010, 03:49 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by JB Cases View Post
This is my guide for evaluating the quality of cue case. I hope that it might be helpful to some of you when you are writing your reviews of cue cases and looking at cases in the future. I will try to keep it fairly short and light on the editorial comments. These are my personal preferences and how I feel a case should be built.

1. How well does it protect? I look to see if the cues are kept securely in a non-abrasive cavity. I prefer that the cues are kept snugly so that movement is reduced. For a hard case I check to see that it can withstand a decent amount of impact and pressure. I make sure that the cues are easy to remove and nothing can scratch them when inserting or removing them. When the case is in motion I want to be sure that no parts can touch or bang against each other.

2. How strong are the handles, straps and latches?
From experience I know that cue cases are stressed in different ways than most other types of cases. Thus I look to see that the all the stress points are very secure and durable. I don't want any excess movement when I am pulling on the handles, straps or latches.

3. How comfortable is the case to use? This is also known as ergonomics. Is is easy to insert and remove the cues? Are the handles comfortable to the hand? Does the case sit comfortably on the shoulder and not slip off? How is the balance? Is it easy to get into the pockets?

4. How well done is the fit and finish? For a tube case does the interior and exterior fit snugly together or is it loose? I don't like a case that feels like a loose bag. Are all the edges finished well? Any errant metal pieces sticking out? Are the rivets well done or are they sloppy? Is the stitching straight and tight? Are all the parts lined up right? Basically I look for the little details that either tell me someone really cares or that they don't.


5. How well done is the decoration?
Anyone can tool leather. Not everyone is good at it. So I look at the tooling with a critical eye towards symmetry and execution. I want to see that the tooling was done with a steady practiced hand and that it was laid out to compliment the case rather than just to throw a bunch of tooling on the leather. I also value originality over using patterns from others. There are thousands of patterns available from Tandy leather and other sources. Many of these look great when put on a cue case. I like to see tooling that has been drawn from scratch to compliment the case and the theme rather than something that feels like a stock pattern. However I do give bonus points for taking a stock pattern and making it original by virtue of style.

For inlays, windows, overlays I look at the positioning, proportion and execution. Is everything lined up correctly?

That's about it. Obviously my criteria is more stringent than most people's is likely to be just based on experience with the subject since I make cue cases. 20 years ago I accepted many cases as well built and great that I wouldn't now. I know that most consumers are unlikely to have much experience with a lot of case brands and especially with custom cases. Most people aren't even in touch with true quality leather work these days. So by writing this I can give you my own insight as to what I look for and hopefully it helps you to better evaluate what you are looking at.
Sounds like a good list of thing for a buyer to think about.
  
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01-17-2010, 03:54 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by poolpro View Post
Hey JB,

I recently bought a talisman tribal 3x5 case in black. I was just wondering what your thoughts on them were? How would you rate them?

I do respect that you take your trade very seriously.



Jw
With all due respect it's not my place to rate any other brand in this section. I gave my criteria for you to be able to judge the case using my experience. I would suggest you take a good look at the Talisman and write a review so that others can benefit from your experience with it.

I will say that there are things about Talisman cases that I really like and others that I don't care so much for. The same thing applies to a lot of the cases we make so there is no "perfect" case in my opinion.

Hopefully if this section takes off then both case makers and consumers can get closer to the perfect case though.
  
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01-17-2010, 05:44 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by JB Cases View Post
With all due respect it's not my place to rate any other brand in this section. I gave my criteria for you to be able to judge the case using my experience. I would suggest you take a good look at the Talisman and write a review so that others can benefit from your experience with it.

I will say that there are things about Talisman cases that I really like and others that I don't care so much for. The same thing applies to a lot of the cases we make so there is no "perfect" case in my opinion.

Hopefully if this section takes off then both case makers and consumers can get closer to the perfect case though.
John is being diplomatic, and I would give his Jay Flower Tribute 2 x 4 Case a 9.0-9.5 out of a Max. Score of Perfect 10, and the Talisman a 6.5-7.0 IMHO.
  
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01-17-2010, 07:53 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by CocoboloCowboy View Post
John is being diplomatic, and I would give his Jay Flower Tribute 2 x 4 Case a 9.0-9.5 out of a Max. Score of Perfect 10, and the Talisman a 6.5-7.0 IMHO.
Actually I am not being diplomatic. The intention of my posting this is not to start any sort of a scale or rating system.

There are things I like and dislike about every case made including every case we have ever made.

I just wanted to give my criteria for judging the quality of a cue case as to how I do it.

I would like people to evaluate their cases based on total quality and the above things are what I find are most important in the order of importance in my opinion.

Other people might find that my order of importance is not the same as theirs. They might consider the look of the case or how it makes them feel to be much more important than how well it works.

To each their own. I don't mind if other case makers chime in with what they feel are important criteria in judging quality leather work. My only goal is to show you how I judge cue cases, backpacks, pen holders, frisbee bags, etc....
  
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01-18-2010, 09:30 AM

Good post John. Thanks for the quality info and for keeping the thread's purpose on track.
  
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12-12-2016, 06:19 PM

As a new cue case buyer, I do appreciate such a thorough assessment of what a protective cue case should do. I think everyone who purchases a case should read Mr. Barton's guide.
Thanks, Mr. Barton
PS I hope your guide is posted on your website, Mr. Barton!

Last edited by DMM4342; 12-13-2016 at 03:41 PM. Reason: Spelling correction
  
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