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State of the Art in Case Making - 11-16-2010, 06:14 AM

Whether you all know it or not you have probably the widest range of choice in cases of any sport out there for your gear.

You have a huge assortment of production cue cases from simple bags to well engineered tube cases. There are makers doing wood boxes, suitcase styles, using bamboo, and of course leather. In the past few years case makers are popping up everywhere.

My focus in case making has always been on how to make them better in terms of protection and construction.

So I thought I'd point out a few thing I have learned while making cases over the past 20 years and what we have come up with to make improvements.

Starting with the interior;

When I got started my goal was to find a way to add padding to the interior and keep the cue snug and safe until I wanted it out. So I put padding inside the tubes. This was good for it's time and was the foundation of Instroke Cue Cases.

Now I have developed/invented the padded fabric divided compartment interiors. I didn't invent the fabric divided interior. That's been around for at least 60 years. I created some that offer the type of protection I think a long thin instrument needs.





These come in several flavors but essentially they all do the same thing. They wrap the cues in soft fabric and let them sit snugly in between layers of foam rubber. This protects the parts from each other and from the wall of the case.

Working with Sterling I am able to provide this protection for inexpensive cases that anyone can afford as well as our custom cases.

---------------------------------------------------

Next I tackled the latch problem. Specifically the problem that mechanical latchs and snaps are doomed to fail. They have moving parts and are made of thin metal and don't like the forces acting on them.

So the first thing I did in this direction was make a sort of bracer to take the weight off the closure,

I called this a Puzzle Snap Latch:




Then I decided to eliminate the snap and came up with the Magnetic Puzzle Latch - these have no moving parts to break, ever;




And finally kind of a hybrid for when we don't want to put in the magnetic Puzzle Latch I came up with the Puzzle Twist Latch - now this one isn't really a "new" invention but it is super strong and durable.




So now that I took care of the closures I moved on to the pockets and what we could do there;

People like the box pocket look but they hate the way that those pockets are hard to get into. So I invented the L-Zipper for 90 degree corner box pockets.




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Continued
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Continued - 11-16-2010, 06:17 AM

Ergonomics are very important to me so I really work hard to make sure that grips are very comfortable and shoulder straps conform to the shoulder blades - it HURTS when you have to walk a long way with a handle cutting into your hand or shoulder;




Stability is a big concern and for some reason people like cases that stand on their own. So I stole an idea from Predator cases and started putting rubber bottoms on the case. It's not as elegant as metal or plastic feet but the cases stay put and the bottom is protected;



I got an itch to do Butterfly cases again but I wanted to improve the interior and so we did to make it where flaps are not needed.




For the iconic Fellini style case we developed a method to upholster the ends where they can never come loose. And we developed the laminated leather endcaps;




Along the way we have also done a number of new things, some of which we created and others were things we learned from our colleagues and made our own.

Small upper pockets for joint protectors and such, credit to Talisman and Cuemaster,




Pockets on the inside of the case:



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11-16-2010, 06:24 AM

We have worked hard to develop ways to do non-standard pockets:




Brought in techniques like filigree to cue case making;

  
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11-16-2010, 06:39 AM

We have done a lot of innovative things and so have some of our colleagues.

Rex Goulet is bring the art on cases to new levels.

Del W. has made some really great new styles.

Marc Turcasso has raised the bar.

Rusty Melton has come up with some great new styles.

WaCases in Germany and Marcel Merkowitz also from Germany are putting out some great new stuff with innovative features.

There are so many good and great case makers now. I study cases and often I hear the sentiment that "they don't build them like they used to".

I have old cases from the 60's through today. I can tell you that the state of the art is better now than it's ever been as far as cue cases go. For the most part the cue case makers today are building products that are as good or better than at any other time in history.

Feel free to add to this thread with features from your favorite case makers that you consider innovative and bar raising.

Other than advertising the things we have brought into the field in the past couple years my intent with this thread is to show people that we are lucky in the billiard industry to have a dedicated and good group of custom makers as well as plenty of diversity on the production side.

So feel free to list the guys who you see as raising the bar and tell us why you think so. My whole deal is protection and construction. I have never been a person who cares too much about the surface decoration except to note whether it flows or not. I personally am interested in why you think any particular case maker might be raising the bar in the protection and construction area but feel free to show off your favorites even if the only thing you love is the way they look.
  
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11-16-2010, 06:42 AM

I have never been one that was into cue cases,sure I have a bunch but I don't get out much so they are not a big deal. In the past couple of weeks I have been reading your threads and watching your videos and I am here to tell you that your products are amazing. I am starting to want to collect cases almost as much as cues. I bought a 3x5 Instroke about 10 years ago and rarely used it, in the spring I opened it and the main latch fell apart. Needless to say I was bummed, your new latch system is the nutz and that foam fabric looks like it will be the new standard. Nice work.


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Last edited by Cuebuddy; 11-16-2010 at 07:07 AM.
  
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11-16-2010, 07:02 AM

John, I have always admired work in designing cases that offer the best protection to the cues. Your work to continuously improve the quality of the cases is outstanding. And constantly finding new ways to increase functionality is much appreciated.

But your ability to make the darn things look so good at the same time is truely incredible.

Keep up the good work.

Steve


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11-16-2010, 07:26 AM

Still with all the shoices, I expect another somebody will come into the market with another idea!


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11-16-2010, 08:12 AM

John, Your work is fabulous. Perfect for me.
"country" Bob
  
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11-16-2010, 09:00 AM

nice work... i cant wait for my new ebony case
  
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11-16-2010, 09:08 AM

Im currently making a list of what I require in a custom case for all of my gear, and all things I would require is something that John 'n' co can do.

Next year I will be getting my first Custom Case next year, and will be doing abit of shopping about to find best value for money. Saying that, I have always been a fan of your work John


Playing Cue: Wayne Holmes Custom with 2 Original Maple & 1 OB1 shaft with Kamui Original Medium Tips
Break Cue: Wayne Holmes Custom with Original Maple shaft with Milk Dud (Triangle) Tip
Jump Cue: Wayne Holmes Custom with Original Maple shaft with Samsara Break Tip
Case: John Barton 4x8 Butterfly in Brown
  
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11-16-2010, 09:23 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by LOW E.T. View Post
nice work... i cant wait for my new ebony case
You bought a BEAUTY.


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Question 11-16-2010, 09:37 AM

to be 100% honest up till recently i never say the point of high end custom cases. then i shot some pool with my little brother. he has my first real cue and the case i used. i took a look at it. the shaft and but kinda klanked inside. i was thinking to myself " this is about as good a holding them together with rubber bands so i don't lose one of the pieces. i looked at my sterling case witch truthfully i only bought because it was an awesome deal. ( black sterling 4 x 8 $75 shipped ). thankful now because i have it and my $400 joss and $80 break stick can be protected better. now with that being said, my question is thus, john said he is working with sterling so the lower end production cases can get similar protection, my case looks the exact same inside as the example he used, do i need to buy a $1,000 case for protection reasons or is it pure asthetics?


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side note
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side note - 11-16-2010, 09:38 AM

on a side note i probably coulda spent 200 on a joss and got the same performance, guess that was asthetics as well. LOL


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11-17-2010, 05:17 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by FASTEDDIE427 View Post
to be 100% honest up till recently i never say the point of high end custom cases. then i shot some pool with my little brother. he has my first real cue and the case i used. i took a look at it. the shaft and but kinda klanked inside. i was thinking to myself " this is about as good a holding them together with rubber bands so i don't lose one of the pieces. i looked at my sterling case witch truthfully i only bought because it was an awesome deal. ( black sterling 4 x 8 $75 shipped ). thankful now because i have it and my $400 joss and $80 break stick can be protected better. now with that being said, my question is thus, john said he is working with sterling so the lower end production cases can get similar protection, my case looks the exact same inside as the example he used, do i need to buy a $1,000 case for protection reasons or is it pure asthetics?
No, my philosophy is that you should be able to spend relatively little and get the best protection available because giving you that protection costs very little to do.

It's a plastic tube with layers of foam rubber and fabric arranged in a protective and durable way.

From there how much you spend is up to you.

Spending $1000 on a some case brands often won't get you as good of protection as a $50 Sterling case.

That's why everything I develop for the protection side of things makes it's way into Sterling's cases. And to be 100% clear Sterling is the only American wholesaler who has switched from the problematic foam core style interiors to the fabric divided padded interiors. These types cost Sterling a little bit more but they don't pass that extra cost onto the customer. The other manufacturers of cases don't want to do our interiors because they are harder to do.

I often say to people that I will put $50 worth of foam and fabric around your cue and then wrap that in as much decoration as you want to pay for.

In my mind the ONLY reason for a cue case is to protect the cues and skimping on the interior is kind of like putting a lawnmower motor in a Mercedes if it's an expensive leather work of art on the outside.

I could rant on this forever but the answer is no, you can get the best protection I can make for less than $100 all day, every day.
  
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11-17-2010, 05:26 AM

Hell of a guy truly stand up


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