Why don't cuemakers do this? More to the point why don't we let them?

JCIN

TheActionReport.com
Gold Member
Its going to take me a minute to get to the point but stick with me here....

Over the past few years I have gotten into custom knives. The parallels between the custom knife market and the custom cue market are many:

-They both are made up of mostly one man shops and a few larger ones.

-Both have tiers of makers with the top guys being almost impossible to get work from directly and when one does buy direct from a top maker they can usually flip for a profit immediately if they want.

-The huge difference between the two is that the top knifemakers seem to be much more active in the community both online and at shows.

The reason I bring this all up is that I have talked to a few cuemakers and asked why no one in cues does what the knife guys do in regards to doing one or two trade shows/expos a year. With knife makers even guys who have closed books and long wait lists will go to a show and bring a small number of knives to sell at the show.

Usually these are sold by raffle. You go to the makers table and there are three or four knives there with his price on them. Not the secondary market price but his direct price which almost always lower. You pick the knife you like and fill out a ticket. When its time a winner is pulled and gets to buy the knife. They also usually do a fancy knife and have it as an open bid. Highest bidder gets the knife.

The effect this has is huge. It generates buzz and excitement for the events. People know that no matter how small the chance they have a shot to get something they otherwise could not. Also there is the flipper aspect where if they want they can turn a win into cash. This buzz and excitement is also good for the makers who are not at the very top because they have more people with money in their pockets in the room. Not everyone is going to get a holy grail item but they are in the room with money in their pocket.

This is good for the event promoter because they can announce who is going to be there and that there will be a chance to get product from them. The makers post pics of the work they will be bringing sometimes to generate more interest. People get into it.

Its good for the cuemakers because they get to go to a couple events a year and make enough money to cover the trip and make a little cash over a weekend. It motivates them to attend events and participate in the community. They can also take chances by building things outside their normal work to try things. Its a win win situation for all.

Now there are only a handful of cue makers this would apply to in the pool world but I cant help but think how awesome the next Expo would be if South West, Searing, Showman, Tascarella, Hercek, Haley, Sugartree, Bluegrass and Szamboti announced they would have two to five cues each available at the show via whatever means they choose to sell them. I think the buzz would be huge.

You would have the makers at the show to talk to. They can connect with people without the pressure of having to come out of pocket to cover the expenses of the trip. Hell you could put three or four in a booth and let them spend a few hours a day in it of they want. The main point is to get the elite makers back in the wider community outside of just the hard core collector.

Now why I think this probably will not happen: Lists. Everyone is a prisoner to their list. Because they think people on the list will freak out most makers I bring this up to say it would never fly. I think thats terrible. If having a guy make and sell a few cues a year off the books is the cost of getting them out in the community sharing their knowledge and building excitement I think its ridiculous not to do it. This idea that a craftsman is an indentured servant to his list is crazy and I have seen it nowhere else outside of pool.

Now I know some will post cuemaker horror stories. I know they happen.But I would still rather have the makers, their knowledge and experience out there in the community without having to keep a low profile lest they set off someone on a list. A benefit to people on those lists could very well be that making a face to face to connection with a maker could smooth out the process.

So I just wanted to see what people think about the idea of makers coming to shows with a few off the books cues if thats what it takes to get them out and involved.
 

westcoast

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
What do you mean by lists?

Also, I had no idea there was such a lucrative market for custom knives!
 

Fast Lenny

Faster Than You...
Silver Member
What do you mean by lists?

Also, I had no idea there was such a lucrative market for custom knives!

Custom knives and the money spent is probably much more then cues. I like the idea Justin is proposing and it would probably draw more interest to the shows.
 

JCIN

TheActionReport.com
Gold Member
Custom knives and the money spent is probably much more then cues. I like the idea Justin is proposing and it would probably draw more interest to the shows.
+1

If you include all the different types of high end custom knives it probably is more than custom cues by a fair margin. The knife market as a whole dwarfs anything in pool.

I think it would add excitement to shows to have a shot at a new cue from a maker that you probably just could not get any other way. Plus a lot of cues from these guys never see the light of day so more people would get to see them. As it is now they go in a safe or case and thats it.
 

JCIN

TheActionReport.com
Gold Member
What do you mean by lists?

Also, I had no idea there was such a lucrative market for custom knives!

Many cuemakers have lists of customers. Like South West is the most well known. You put your name on a list today and around 2025 you will get a call asking what you want your cue to look like.

If a cuemaker with a long list comes to a show with a cue or cues to sell some people act like they were raped because they haven't got their cue yet. Like anything else balance is required but now some guys don't even want to come out and deal with people because every time they do some guy hassles them about a cue he ordered.
 
When I was much younger, I was fortunate enough to have a custom knife shop in my hometown. It was owned by a local knifemaker who put a lot of different makers' wares in his cases. There was a thriving community (they were known in the knife world as 'the montana militia') based near my town.

I was making cues at the time and spent a lot of time in the shop with a beginning knifemaker, Derek, talking about design, incorporating the knife designs and materials in cues...he was a couple of years older than I, but we shared a lot of ideas.

I was there one day shortly before ecksmas, Derek was putting the final polish on a small folder that a guy ordered for his future father-in-law. I asked what it was going for, he told me $3500...I sheepishly handed it back to him.

There are soooooo many differences between knifemakers and cuemakers. At the time (1996), I couldn't get a cuemaker to tell me anything about cues. The knifemakers I met, they would invite me into their shops and show me everything.

I had dinner with some big name makers when I went to the Oregon Custom Knife Show. It was amazing to be 22yrs old, at a decent restaurant and be holding the show winning knife (14" bowie with a black powder pistol built in) and talking to the maker.

I've never had that in the cue world.
 
+1

If you include all the different types of high end custom knives it probably is more than custom cues by a fair margin. The knife market as a whole dwarfs anything in pool.

I think it would add excitement to shows to have a shot at a new cue from a maker that you probably just could not get any other way. Plus a lot of cues from these guys never see the light of day so more people would get to see them. As it is now they go in a safe or case and thats it.

In NYC, guys buy watches. In much of the rest of the country guys buy expensive knives as jewelry. I carry about $700 in knives every day...these are my working knives. I used to carry the D2 stainless linerlock drop point with carved ebony scales that I designed/made until I finished the details and gave it to my dad.
 

JCIN

TheActionReport.com
Gold Member
When I was much younger, I was fortunate enough to have a custom knife shop in my hometown. It was owned by a local knifemaker who put a lot of different makers' wares in his cases. There was a thriving community (they were known in the knife world as 'the montana militia') based near my town.

I was making cues at the time and spent a lot of time in the shop with a beginning knifemaker, Derek, talking about design, incorporating the knife designs and materials in cues...he was a couple of years older than I, but we shared a lot of ideas.

I was there one day shortly before ecksmas, Derek was putting the final polish on a small folder that a guy ordered for his future father-in-law. I asked what it was going for, he told me $3500...I sheepishly handed it back to him.

There are soooooo many differences between knifemakers and cuemakers. At the time (1996), I couldn't get a cuemaker to tell me anything about cues. The knifemakers I met, they would invite me into their shops and show me everything.

I had dinner with some big name makers when I went to the Oregon Custom Knife Show. It was amazing to be 22yrs old, at a decent restaurant and be holding the show winning knife (14" bowie with a black powder pistol built in) and talking to the maker.

I've never had that in the cue world.

I have been lucky to meet and talk with almost all of the top cuemakers. The problem is the opportunity to do so is pretty rare if you are not in their backyard. They don't come out much.

I have talked to a few knifemakers and more than a few gunsmiths. For the most part they are just like cuemakers to me. All are craftsmen who made a passion into their business. As a whole some of the best people I have met.
 

TATE

AzB Gold Mensch
Gold Member
Silver Member
A great idea - it would attract more potential buyers to experience cue shows. This is the kind of proactive thinking we need in the industry.
 

JoeyInCali

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Knife makers would laugh if they found out how long it takes to make cues .
They don't have to season woods for four years or so for shafts .
They don't need to take a 1/4MM off their blades then wait weeks to take out another 1/4MM.
They can hammer forge blades, and grind them in the same week
Even the ones who make folders and flippers do not have it as bad as cue makers when it comes to labor and time.

I watched a video of a famous knife maker on youtube. He was working on burl inlays. And he was so frustrated b/c he kept breaking the inlays. He was so dejected he spent some 3 hours making them and he only had maybe 4 that were good. Three hours ? Three hours of wasted labor to a cue maker b/c things didn't pan out is nothing. Think days,weeks and maybe months . Seen ebony crack in a FINISHED cue? If a knife maker had to deal with cue makers' frustrations, most of them would probably quit .
 

JoeyInCali

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
When I was much younger, I was fortunate enough to have a custom knife shop in my hometown. It was owned by a local knifemaker who put a lot of different makers' wares in his cases. There was a thriving community (they were known in the knife world as 'the montana militia') based near my town.

I was making cues at the time and spent a lot of time in the shop with a beginning knifemaker, Derek, talking about design, incorporating the knife designs and materials in cues...he was a couple of years older than I, but we shared a lot of ideas.

I was there one day shortly before ecksmas, Derek was putting the final polish on a small folder that a guy ordered for his future father-in-law. I asked what it was going for, he told me $3500...I sheepishly handed it back to him.

There are soooooo many differences between knifemakers and cuemakers. At the time (1996), I couldn't get a cuemaker to tell me anything about cues. The knifemakers I met, they would invite me into their shops and show me everything.

I had dinner with some big name makers when I went to the Oregon Custom Knife Show. It was amazing to be 22yrs old, at a decent restaurant and be holding the show winning knife (14" bowie with a black powder pistol built in) and talking to the maker.

I've never had that in the cue world
.
Knife making schools are everywhere . They actually like to have more knife makers or some who thought they could be knife makers . Knife makers are scaringly very nice people . I've been to knife shows and that always stood out with me.
But, I have been to cue makers shop and talked to a few . At least three of them are top-tier. I frequented the late Judd Fuller's shop before I even thought of making cues. He showed me pretty much everything he did .
I have talked to Ernie G and Dennis Searing. Both were overly accommodating as well.
 

LAlouie

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
More people buy knives than cues....LOTS MORE. Cue selling/making speaks to a very very small market
 

macguy

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
+1

If you include all the different types of high end custom knives it probably is more than custom cues by a fair margin. The knife market as a whole dwarfs anything in pool.

I think it would add excitement to shows to have a shot at a new cue from a maker that you probably just could not get any other way. Plus a lot of cues from these guys never see the light of day so more people would get to see them. As it is now they go in a safe or case and thats it.
Aren't most all knives from custom knife makers collectables for the most part? They are tools but unlike cues are not really used. A cue has to pass a lot more scrutiny then a knife, it has to meet every expectation.
 

deanoc

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
there are shows where this does occur
i met Paul Mottey,Tim Scruggs,Ernie,Terry Romine and a few others on my first tournament in Reno Nevada some 30 years ago

I bought cues from each of these guys and met even more of them at a trade show in Ft worth,and another one in Nashville

I met a few others at shows in Las Vegas,but I lost interest in the shows,they were
too time consuming and conflicted with my business,plus I get home sick in about 8 hours

I do believe that you have some good ideas,but I think the cue makers are actually doing more
than most of us realize,

Some only make a dozen or so pr year so it would be hard to give away a large percent of their work,but I think some of these profitable and I applaud your input,this is the kind of idea that
I would like to see discussed on AZ
 

DAVE_M

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Aren't most all knives from custom knife makers collectables for the most part? They are tools but unlike cues are not really used. A cue has to pass a lot more scrutiny then a knife, it has to meet every expectation.

Are most custom knives collectibles? Not at all, but that doesn't mean you can't collect the knives you use. There are a ton of "display" knives, but most custom folding knives and fixed blades were meant to be used. I have a few customs and they all get used.

A cue has to pass a lot more scrutiny than a knife? Obviously you don't know much about knives.
 

DAVE_M

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
More people buy knives than cues....LOTS MORE. Cue selling/making speaks to a very very small market

Bingo!

The knife market is huge & the cue market is small.
The custom knife market is small & the custom cue market is tiny.

Edit -

To add... Almost every cuemaker that I have met, doesn't really understand their craft yet. Cuemakers with less experience shouldn't be trying to make a Balabushka tribute and they shouldn't be working with materials that they don't understand yet. I've bought a few knives from new knifemakers that perfected their craft, before they put knives out on the market or opened their job books. I was lucky enough to get them at a fair price, before everyone realized these makers' knives were very high quality and at a great price to boot. I feel that most cuemakers charge more than the other guys, because the other guys charge a lot for crappy cues.

In the knife community, you can get a nice custom knife for $200 and a masterpiece for $1,000.
In the cuemaking community, you can get a half-ass custom cue for $200 and a masterpiece for $10,000 (which is probably a factor in the market)
 
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Type79

AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
Silver Member
Just Guesses

I am not a cuemaker but I will take a stab at why more cuemakers don't frequent shows.

- Cost - I asked a vender at SBE 2014 what it cost him to do the weekend and he said roughly $3,500 for all expenses combined.

- Inventory - Most cuemakers don't have enough finished product to display and/or offer for sale as they are busy with orders for cues.

- List - Most cuemakesr are tied-up completing cues that were ordered months/years before and don't have the time to stop work for a week as well as drop $3,500 to take new orders to add to their list.

- Market - The market is down and inundated with cues making it unprofitable to participate in shows.

- Internet - Buyers can view cues relatively quickly and easily online as well as communicate with makers about what they have to offer or a project they have in-mind.
 

3kushn

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Aren't most all knives from custom knife makers collectables for the most part? They are tools but unlike cues are not really used. A cue has to pass a lot more scrutiny then a knife, it has to meet every expectation.

Maybe that's why I never got my custom Damascus filet knife. The maker didn't want me to actually use it. Just put it in the safe and use the high end Cabelas.:(

Oh do I wish that knife materialized!
 
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