View Full Version : Custom Cue Cost Breakdown
01-30-2004, 05:41 PM
Last night (in my 8 ball league) I met a guy who had a beautiful cue Bill McDanial Custom cue with ivory inlays. He drove down to Tennesse and gave Bill $3000.00 and got his cue 6 months later.I asked him why it took so long and he said some cue makers only make about 6 cues a year.
Anyways, I was wondering how many hours can go into an expensive cue labour wise and what the price breakdown could be for materials, labour and profit. Percentage wise answers will suffice. I can imagine that this is a tough question to answer as there are so many variables from cue to cue.Maybe some of this forumns cue makers would know.
He said that his cue shop was amazing and had several different lathes/machinery etc., so I'm sure he deserves to make some good coin as per investments and time spent learning his trade.The cue is really beautiful and the work is precise.His joint fits really tight and gets that way with the easiest of hand twists when putting it together and yet is tougher to take apart than your average cue. I was impressed. RJ
ps. Feel free to check out some McDaniels here:
01-30-2004, 06:46 PM
I met Billy McDaniels about 5 or 6 years ago at a waterfowl festival in Samburg, TN. He said he had some custom cues for sale that he had made and asked if I wanted to see them. Never missing an opportunity to check out some nice cues, I said, "Sure." I was kind of wondering how expensive they would be as we walked to the parking lot. I was somewhat taken aback when we got to his car, it was a Mercedes and I figured the cues would really be pricey. Much to my surprise, they were great looking cues and very good prices. I still don't know any custom cue maker who gives you more bang for the buck that McDaniels. No, I didn't buy one then but got one later.
01-30-2004, 11:28 PM
When you take your car to be repaired,you will pay 50-100 dollars an hour in labor. Is it worth it? You are paying for his years of training, tools, his rent,insurance & parts PLUS his salery. Now consider making a pool Q. I have 5 lathes, assorted saws,inlaying machine, hand tools & all of the costs that your mechanic has, plus I have $15,000 worth of raw materials.
Now consider that to make one shaft, I have to turn that piece of wood a little smaller with each turning. I turn each shaft 8 times, over a 6 month period. Each piece of wood for the forearm & handle get basiclly the same treatment. VERY LABOR INTENSIVE. Now take into consideration that the glue,wood dust & paint fumes are all either cancer causing agents or otherwise poisonous. My basic 4 point Q is less than $500. DAMNED CHEAP CONSIDERING WHAT IT TAKES TO PRODUCE A Q...JER
01-30-2004, 11:31 PM
TAP, TAP, TAP...my job as a civil engineer sounds cushy by comparison... and I suddenly feel vastly overpaid!!!!!!!!!!!! (not kidding!)
01-31-2004, 01:51 AM
You know, doing repairs there is an aspect that cue owners may not take into account. That is, the responsibility you accept when they give you their cue. They may leave you with a shaft for a tip you are going to do for say $10.00. If something happens to that shaft you have to replace it. They give you a $1000. cue for a re-wrap. The whole time that cue is in your possession you are responsible for it. I have never had a loss, but I know a cue maker whose shop was robbed and cues there for repair including a Szamboti's were stolen. The cues were recovered and everything turned out OK., but he was really sweating it because he was going to have to pay the owners for the cues.
01-31-2004, 02:16 AM
6 months for a ivory pointed and inlayed cue is not that long. That is on the short time side. Especially if the forearm is made of ebony.
My local cuemaker has over 20 years of experience in repair and cueamaking and he has built a reputation for building solid cues ( no points or inlays but he commands close to $1000 for his player's cue).
Cuemaking is very labor intensive and very time consuming.
Searching for quality wood, right tooling and the right materials ( epoxy, finish, buckhorn, ivory etc) takes a lot of time and MONEY.
If a cuemaker is selling his basic cue for around $300, he is not making much money if at all. At 3K, McD is making a good profit on that cue. But, if you consider he has a Tecno Isel CNC machine that costs thousands of dollars, cnc lathes and manual lathes and a manual mill, he's probably barely afloat.
01-31-2004, 08:25 AM
Correct me if I'm wrong Jer, but another factor that has to be considered is the high price of the exotic woods used in many cues, and that is not to imply that clear, straight grained maple for the shafts is cheap. Also, I'm sure you cut away or throw away a fair percentage of those raw materials.
01-31-2004, 09:31 AM
Well, let's see.
The one custom cuemaker I know of in these parts has a shop that makes a drooling babbling lump of my husband should he accompany me when I need to go see him.
Okay, it's not because his toys - er tools - are high tech or anything, it's the amount of them and the quality.
Four radial arm saws are set up in various stages for forearm work. I believe he has three lathes total. And that pantograph machine is fascinating. So I guess that would be about $10,000 worth of equipment just there.
Don't get me started with the kind or amount of material he possesses in his shop.
And when you look at the "stitching" in the joint collars and you realize that each stitch is an inlay that has to be cut and is inlayed by hand and the incredible symmetry of it all, suddenly his basic cue price doesn't seem far-fetched.
01-31-2004, 10:09 AM
POPCORN,you are so right. VERY often a minor repair turns into much more than was expected. I've been very lucky, because since 1984 I've only had one major boo boo. I put a meucci butt in one of my lathes, to do a little sanding. I noticed that I had the pointed tool in the tool holder & decided I would back it out a little more, just to be safe. Instead I turned the handle the wrong way & cut a deep groove just above the wrap. I had to buy him a new $600 Q. Just the cost of doing business...JER
01-31-2004, 10:56 AM
FOUR radial arm saws?
This guy must be making full-spliced cues.
Can you get me one of his cues please before Christmas this year? While you're at it, can you pls take a protractor to his shop and measure the angle on each arm saw? I'm pretty sure he wouldn't mind. /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif
01-31-2004, 01:33 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Cueless Joey:</font><hr> FOUR radial arm saws?
This guy must be making full-spliced cues. <font color="blue"> Ya think?</font color>
Can you get me one of his cues please before Christmas this year? <font color="blue"> I didn't get CC that cue. Nope, not me.</font color> While you're at it, can you pls take a protractor to his shop and measure the angle on each arm saw? I'm pretty sure he wouldn't mind. /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif <font color="blue"> Okay! But what exactly am I measuring?</font color><hr /></blockquote>
You know, the first time Pete and I went there, we got a full tour of the shop. In the "radial arm saw room", Pete started leaning on one of the saws. The proprieter kindly asked him not to do that. /ccboard/images/graemlins/blush.gif
And he's still friends with us. /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif
01-31-2004, 01:58 PM
"And when you look at the "stitching" in the joint collars and you realize that each stitch is an inlay that has to be cut and is inlayed by hand "
Often much of this is an illusion, The stitching is actually a slice of what was a long inlayed piece. Although it takes a little time to make the main piece you will be cutting from, it will produce dozens of rings that when assembled appear to be individual inlayed pieces. There are quite a few machining tricks that although simple, can produce a more complicated effect then it really is.
01-31-2004, 02:19 PM
Not with this cuemaker's work. I've seen a cue in his shop whose soon-to-be-owner wanted ivory "S" stitching in the butt. Each "S" was hand cut out of ivory and inlayed into the butt.
Made me feel a little guilty about how much stitching I have on my cue.
Barbara~~~sort of over the guilt by now...
01-31-2004, 02:35 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote BLACKHEART:</font><hr> When you take your car to be repaired,you will pay 50-100 dollars an hour in labor. Is it worth it? You are paying for his years of training, tools, his rent,insurance & parts PLUS his salery. Now consider making a pool Q. I have 5 lathes, assorted saws,inlaying machine, hand tools & all of the costs that your mechanic has, plus I have $15,000 worth of raw materials.
Now consider that to make one shaft, I have to turn that piece of wood a little smaller with each turning. I turn each shaft 8 times, over a 6 month period. Each piece of wood for the forearm & handle get basiclly the same treatment. VERY LABOR INTENSIVE. Now take into consideration that the glue,wood dust & paint fumes are all either cancer causing agents or otherwise poisonous. My basic 4 point Q is less than $500. DAMNED CHEAP CONSIDERING WHAT IT TAKES TO PRODUCE A Q...JER <hr /></blockquote>
Thanks Blackheart and everyone else who responded to this post,much appreciated.
Six months ago I was at a big (local) tournament and on the hunt for a pool cue.I was looking at some Falcon Cues (with a predator shaft) that were being shown by a local Falcon Dealer and pro, John Horsfall. I only had $500.00 (Canadian) with me and the cues in that range were all basically plain janes and none of which caught my eye.
Also at the tourney was this Custom Cue maker who had a cue that he let me try for 45 minutes or so.No doubt there are better cues out there than the one I tried however FOR ME, this was THE BEST CUE I'd ever hit with.Three or four other people hit with it and everybody liked it.After playing with it and shooting great, the cue bascically said to me,"Buy me."Although he wanted over $600 for it, he graciously gave it to me for the $500 when I told him that was all the money I had.Other people( In the know) standing around told me that cues like mine could command a price of 800 or more.I've never had any regrets.Now I've got a unique custom cue that I'm really, really happy with.
The cue maker told me that giving me the cue for that price netted him about $10- $15 an hour when materials, overhead and everything was considered.A lot of people (outside) of pool circles have no idea what cue makers go through to make a cue and wonder how a piece of wood could cost so much.
I'm also sure that when you guys set out to make cues many mistakes are made in learning the trade and time as well as cues are lost along the way.A good custom cue maker depending on reputation and experience is probably and justifiably worth at least $50 or more dollars an hour.I'm sure this is a learned skill that many of us don't even have a clue about.
My friend loves his Mcdaniels cue and I love my Foster.I think it's a feeling that people who own production cues just don't quite get to experience, at least in the same context.Here is a guy who put his heart (like many custom cue makers do)into making my cue and I could feel it by talking to him when practising and eventually buying it.It's something that he definitly had a passion for and I could see it in his eyes.
I love our great sport and a good cue if well made is something that can last a life time.When I used to get loaded I could spend a quick few hundred on a weekend so investing in a quality custom cue is a good thing.Spending $500 or $3000 or what ever for cue you really like is a worthwhile investment. If you love your cue, I don't think you can even put a price on it.
I allways figured that most of the cost was in the labour, however I had no idea what kind of equipment or process was involved. Thanks to the posters here who have taught me some more. RJ
01-31-2004, 03:19 PM
I started with a wood lathe & very quickly found that if I was going to make Qs, I would have to get a machine lathe. I cut a big pile of wood, that I had ruined, before I had anything that even looked like a pool Q. I did repairs & made hustler type Qs on those 2 lathes for about 3 years, before I tryed to make a Q from scratch. This is not an easy way to learn,but I look at the Qs I'm making now & find it hard to imagine, that I have come so far. I still have that 1st Q. WOW was that terible!!!JER
01-31-2004, 03:22 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote recoveryjones:</font><hr>
My friend loves his Mcdaniels cue and I love my Foster.I think it's a feeling that people who own production cues just don't quite get to experience, at least in the same context.<hr /></blockquote>
I think this is a big factor when you actually meet and talk to the cuemaker. Its nice to have a custom cue made by someone that you have heard of, but when you actually get to meet with them I think it adds a level of appreciation to the cue that you cant get buying one off of the rack. To take it to the next level you have to work with the cuemaker in the design stage and have them make something for you, then I think you have a cue and an experience that cant be replaced!
I purchased a custom not long ago of a cuemaker that isnt too far away from me to see how I liked the hit. I have been happy with it and will be contacting him soon to go down to his place and see about having one made. I cant wait /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif
01-31-2004, 04:00 PM
I just had an E-MAIL, asking about the black heart, I use as my logo. Before I knew how to do inlays, all of my Qs had a hand drawn BLACK HEART on each Q. When I bought my 1st inlaying machine, it was my wife's idea to continue to hand draw each heart as a reminder of the "old days" & how far we've come...JER
01-31-2004, 04:21 PM
Since it'd probably take too much time measuring all the angles of those saws, can you pls take a camcorder with you instead? /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif
Joey~Very jealous Barbara is a friend of this so-so cuemaker who has a shop in his basement~ /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif
01-31-2004, 04:32 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Cueless Joey:</font><hr> Joey~Very jealous Barbara is a friend of this so-so cuemaker who has a shop in his basement~ /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif <hr /></blockquote>
You really shouldn't be jealous. He's a very personable guy. Unbelievably personable.
01-31-2004, 09:38 PM
I am not sure of the quality of the radial arm saw, but what I have seen, a nice one would run around $1K to $1400 apiece. A Delta 12 inch radial alone runs about $1600 on Amazon.
WOW!! there is some machinery in that shop!
That makes my woodworking shop look pitiful.
01-31-2004, 10:12 PM
For an interesting tour, you can go to:
You will soon see that the basic cost for making a cue from components is reasonable enough. Many cue makers make their own parts, so their raw materials costs are lower.
Machinists make good money. These CNC guys would be making a ton out here in Los Angeles. What you're paying for is the cue-makers time and overhead. Expensive customs are loaded with details. Exotic materials such as ivory, skins, and rare woods are costly.
The cost of advertising and marketing the cues can be prohibitive as well.
Jerry, I've got to say for the money your cues are fantastic. I've talked to Carol recently (and if you know Carol you know Carol /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif) and she's so much looking forward to hers. I had to tell her how much I like mine /ccboard/images/graemlins/smile.gif
Kato~~~has a Blackheart that he's extremely pleased with /ccboard/images/graemlins/laugh.gif
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