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View Full Version : How Much Should a Custom Cue Cost?



tateuts
07-21-2004, 03:55 PM
We all see that some custom cue-makers offer a plain cue for $300, and another offers a similar cue for $800. I know it's supply and demand, but is the guy selling his cue for $300 taking a bath, or is the one selling his for $800 making a killing?

I was selling new customs for a maker to help him out and as a hobby. I could get $1100 - $1300 for his mid-level fancy cues. He said he was not making a profit at these prices. This was really frustrating for me because try as I might, I could not get more. They had maybe 40 -50 ivory inlays plus fancy rings and ivory joints. They were nice cues but not art.

That seems like a lot of money to me. How much money - time and materials - go into making a mid level custom cue like this? Is $1300 enough to make a profit?

Chris

Big_Jon
07-21-2004, 04:16 PM
Well some makers (i don't know who you were selling for, so this isn't a knock at him, or anybody, just an opinion) think that just because they have some ivory inlays, that a cue should sell itself. It just doesn't happen like that lol...

I would much rather pay for a Zylr type cue, than a mid level "fancy" cue for the same price. But that is just me...

Thanks,

Jon

woody_968
07-21-2004, 04:36 PM
Big names will naturally bring a big price tag. But I can tell you I learned alot when I was in Madison Bobs shop. Actually I dont know how some of these guys can sell some of their cues for two or three hundred dollars. If they are going through the proper steps (giving the wood the proper curing time, and all the other stuff that I really dont know about) there is a tremendous amount of time and effort that goes into making any quality cue. Many times people just look at the material cost that goes into a cue, which can be pricy, but the real cost IMO is the time that must be put into a cue. Not just in the building of that particular cue, but the time they have spent making firewood in order to learn how to make the cue in the first place.

sliprock
07-21-2004, 04:39 PM
Your friend wasn't making much when you consider the labor that went into 40+ ivory inlays. I haven't priced ivory but I would guess a cue like you described would only cost a couple hundred to build, and if it took 100 hours labor to build it. He's only making $9-$12 an hour. Then you factor in the cost of equipment, shop, marketing,etc. His business is not exactly fortune 500 stuff.

Frank_Glenn
07-21-2004, 05:18 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote sliprock:</font><hr> Your friend wasn't making much when you consider the labor that went into 40+ ivory inlays. I haven't priced ivory but I would guess a cue like you described would only cost a couple hundred to build, and if it took 100 hours labor to build it. He's only making $9-$12 an hour. Then you factor in the cost of equipment, shop, marketing,etc. His business is not exactly fortune 500 stuff. <hr /></blockquote>

This is the real key, time. Cut down house cues in to sneaky pete's doesn't take as long as making a true short splice. CNC can make it quicker once you know how to program it, but assembling the cue and putting on the coating takes about the same amount of time. Each inlay adds more time and materials. Inlays inside inlays adds more time. Most cuemakers don't make one cue at a time, I don't think. They are made several (different or similar, doesn't matter) at a time in batches. Either that or they make several forearms, several butts, several handles and then assemble them. It makes more sense to coat several at a time. The coating process can take up to two weeks, depending on the method used. Several coats are put on with wet sanding and board sanding in between and lots of finishing on the final coat. Some guys are so good that they can charge what they want, they have people lining up, but some guys are just trying to pay the bills for an expensive hobby, hoping to become one of the good guys.

Popcorn
07-21-2004, 06:05 PM
It can take some time to complete a cue but actual hands on time as well as cost is not nearly a much as you might think. When I am turning shafts it only takes a few seconds to put in a piece of wood and start the machine. It takes about 6 1/2 minutes to make a pass but I am not involved in that I am off doing other things. All the process are pretty straight forward and not that complicated. It is important to have a lot of machines so they can be dedicated to different jobs. No constant changing set ups. You want to hear one of my favorite analogies. If you just build good mid range priced cues, built right, as well as do good repairs, those machines in your shop are the next best thing to having a press out there printing money. I'm not kidding. It is funny sometimes how angry some cue makers seem, they need to take a reality check. If I swing by the pool room that takes in my work, (no one I don't know comes to my house) and they have say a couple of ferrule jobs, a couple of tips, maybe a rewrap, all gravy jobs. I go out to the shop in the evening and whip out the work in a few hours and make $100.00. or $120.00, that is good money in my opinion for what is a side job for most guys anyway. It beats going out doing lawn service to make a few extra bucks.

woody_968
07-21-2004, 06:33 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Frank_Glenn:</font><hr> CNC can make it quicker once you know how to program it, <hr /></blockquote>

Bob showed me some of the programs he had written on his machine. Man some of those programs are loooonnnnngggg /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif

Popcorn
07-21-2004, 06:47 PM
I did this off the top of my head but it is pretty close and if I forgot anything someone please add it on.
This would be a four point birds eye cue with ebony points and vaneers that most cue makers sell for around $600.00 and up. If anyone thinks I am wrong on any of the prices please point it out because I did this pretty quick.

Primo BI maple---------------------$14.00
Ebony points &amp; butt sleeve ------- $12.00
Vaneers --------------------about $6.00
handle stock ---------------------$6.00
Shaft ---------------------------$10.00 more or less
Ferrule melamine ------------------$00.60
Triangle tip-----------------------$00.50
screw --------------------------$1.25 Radial about $8.00
Brass Insert --------------------$00.90
bumper ----------------------------$2.00
Finish ----------------------about $1.50
Phenolic parts ------------------- $3.00
Various weight screws and
connection pins -------------------$4.00
--------
Total cost $61.75 to $68.50

When it comes to the shaft wood though you have to take into account that some may not be useable for a high end cue but if you are buying good stuff you will use it for something even if just on a jump cue. It is not the loss some cue makers like to pretend. Some say they throw away 60%. If that is the case they need a new supplier and to order better stuff.

Frank_Glenn
07-21-2004, 08:13 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Popcorn:</font><hr> I did this off the top of my head but it is pretty close and if I forgot anything someone please add it on.
This would be a four point birds eye cue with ebony points and vaneers that most cue makers sell for around $600.00 and up. If anyone thinks I am wrong on any of the prices please point it out because I did this pretty quick.

Primo BI maple---------------------$14.00
Ebony points &amp; butt sleeve ------- $12.00
Vaneers --------------------about $6.00
handle stock ---------------------$6.00
Shaft ---------------------------$10.00 more or less
Ferrule melamine ------------------$00.60
Triangle tip-----------------------$00.50
screw --------------------------$1.25 Radial about $8.00
Brass Insert --------------------$00.90
bumper ----------------------------$2.00
Finish ----------------------about $1.50
Phenolic parts ------------------- $3.00
Various weight screws and
connection pins -------------------$4.00
--------
Total cost $61.75 to $68.50

When it comes to the shaft wood though you have to take into account that some may not be useable for a high end cue but if you are buying good stuff you will use to for something even if just on a jump cue. It is not the loss some cue makers like to pretend. Some say they throw away 60%. If that is the case they need a new supplier and to order better stuff.
<hr /></blockquote>

This looks reasonable, but again, you are paying for the time and any "art" that is put on the cue. $40 for an inlay is reasonable, $100 and up for scrimshaw, Ivory adds money, etc. Most cuemakers i know have a set price for a basic cue, 4 points, 6 points, etc. Then they add for inlays, more points, rings, scrimshaw (usually not done by the cuemaker). A merry widow (no points) is a good option if the cuemaker will make one, some will not.

Popcorn
07-21-2004, 09:14 PM
Kind of like ordering a pizza. Once you are past the plain cheese the little add on's really pump up the price.

Jimmy B
07-22-2004, 03:16 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Popcorn:</font><hr> --------
Total cost $61.75 to $68.50

<hr /></blockquote>

The numbers seem about right, now please do the same for some paintings. A good artist can sell a painting for a lot more then some pool cues, how much does a piece of canvas cost and some paint?? I think they can reuse the brushes:-) IMO cost of materials has very little to do with anything.

JB

Vagabond
07-22-2004, 04:43 AM
Howdy,
I am a country boy and I will not pay more than 100$ for picasso or Vangough paints.Diamonds should not cost more than 1000$ for a 10 pounds bag.cheers
Vagabond /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif

Frank_Glenn
07-22-2004, 06:13 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Popcorn:</font><hr> Kind of like ordering a pizza. Once you are past the plain cheese the little add on's really pump up the price. <hr /></blockquote>

Yes, exactly and how "pumped up" depends a lot on who is doing the pumping.

randyg
07-22-2004, 06:16 AM
What is your job worth?....randyg

bluewolf
07-22-2004, 09:21 AM
Cues, jobs, selling cars, anything really...a thing is only worth what you can get for it.

Laura

Eric.
07-22-2004, 09:30 AM
When you're talkin cues or anything else that is a commodity, you have intrinsic value and market value. Take Stocks for instance; the actual cash value of a company/Stock is usually the Book value, which is what the company is worth after you sell off assets, then take out liabilities. Stocks can sell for many times Book value on the open market depending on market demand, among other things.

The same can be said for cues. It may only cost X amount in parts&amp;Labor, but based on demand for that particular cuemaker, sets the price at that moment. Basically, it's only worth what someone's willing to pay.


Eric &gt;remembers Dot.com Stocks /ccboard/images/graemlins/tongue.gif

Popcorn
07-22-2004, 09:49 AM
Cue makers can be very deceptive. I had one cue maker tell me a good piece of shaft wood cost him $50.00. I have heard many say things like there is hundreds of dollars on ivory in a cue when I can clearly see there is little more then some scrap that has been cut up of inlays worth a few dollars. They exaggerate the hours they have in cues by ridicules amounts, as if the customer is some kind of ignorant boob. A cue is a utilitarian piece of sport equipment that can have some esthetic appeal as well as some collectable value. I just put those numbers down because some may have been curious.

tateuts
07-22-2004, 09:59 AM
So let's say the basic 4 pointer costs $70 in materials. How much in labor? If he's banging out 10 at once, would 40 hours be reasonable? That would be 4 hours per cue. At $50 per hour including overhead, his cost would be $200 labor and $75 materials - $275 to cover cost and pay his own wages/overhead.

Does that sound right?

Chris

tateuts
07-22-2004, 10:00 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote randyg:</font><hr> What is your job worth?....randyg <hr /></blockquote>

Probably a lot more than yours.

Chris

Cueless Joey
07-22-2004, 10:10 AM
http://www.nitticues.com/index.cfm?aa=86&amp;bb=78
Here's pricing guide from ACA member Chris Nitti.

woody_968
07-22-2004, 10:37 AM
Those are some nice looking cues /ccboard/images/graemlins/laugh.gif

Popcorn
07-22-2004, 10:48 AM
If I understand you right, no, you can't build a cue in four hours. You could spend two just rubbing out and doing the final detail on the cue to make it ready to deliver. I thought about it and I am only speaking for my self but I think I could build a four point cue in 12 to 16 normal working hours not killing my self. This is not taking into account drying times or anything just hands on work, I even included prepping materials before you even start to build the cue. Most of the process are not excessively time consuming, just straight forward work. I think the finishing and final rubbing out and details may be the single longest procedure. The reality is though, a guy puts the cue in the lathe, before he indicates it in has to get some coffee and make a phone call. Comes back gets started working the phone rings, hangs up the phone and heads to the bathroom. Now back at the lathe and he gets started working again, cuts down the tenon and puts on some collars and sets it aside. Actual work time 7 or 8 minutes, total time start to finish 30 minutes or more. The cue maker is self employed so don't count on an efficient work schedule. I.E. "I will have it for you next week", reality you don't get it for two months. They try to pretend the long delays are due to the great difficulties in building cues. It is more just bad business practices and lack of discipline. To sum up a $700. cue with $70.00 in material makes it $630 divided by an average 14 hours = $45.00 an hour, a good tradesmans wage. But then you have to figure in your over head so you are not getting rich building cues but it is not bad. Of course there are also repairs that can be real gravy.

BLACKHEART
07-22-2004, 11:30 AM
/ccboard/images/graemlins/confused.gifI don't know where you get the idea that all cuemakers have the equipment to "bang out", 10 cues at a time. 4 hours per cue is simply not anywhere near the truth. The sanding,painting,sanding,painting,sanding &amp; painting along with clean up, takes more than 4 hours alone. I cut my shafts 8 times over a 6 month period. Between the set up cutting &amp; clean up time, have got to take me over an hour. Making the rings,collers, ferrules &amp; assembly on to the shaft takes another hour. 4 Inlayed points take me about 15 minutes to make the point &amp; another 15 minutes to cut the hole for the point to set in(maltiply that by 4 &amp; you have 2 more hours). "V" bottom points with vaneers take longer. Since I buy most of my wood in a 1- 1/2" square by 18" long, I have to turn the handles, the forarms &amp; the butt pieces at least 3 times, before they are joined together-clean up &amp; cutting time is another hour. I'm guessin that I've forgotten a few minor items,so I guess I have about 10 hours in a 4 point cue with vaneers. At $20 an hour that means that I have $200 in time alone(add to that $60-$80 for material). Now, if I could make 4 a week, in a one man shop, I would be doing extreamly well. That seems to me to add up to $800 dollors a week for my salery. Would anyone here work for $800 dollars a week &amp; pay for insurance, utilities &amp; $10'000 to $30'000 in equipment? I think not. So my 4 point vaneered cues cost the customer $525. THAT'S A STEAL...JER

tateuts
07-22-2004, 01:48 PM
This is pretty much what I was trying to figure out - about how much labor is involved in making cues.

These explanations are helpful in understanding why custom cues cost what they do. I think there is an assumption that the hand work is limited in a well equipped shop, which both you and Popcorn have pointed out is not the case.

For a 4 pointer, 10 to 16 hours @ $25 an hour (low end) puts the labor cost at $250 - $400. Bump that to $50 per hour and it's more like $500 to $800.

The cue maker I was selling cues for put his labor/overhead at $50 per hour. So, maybe he was making some money at $1300 per cue.

It was very frustrating to hear him bitch and complain that his cues weren't bringing in more money.

Chris

crawdaddio
07-22-2004, 02:23 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote BLACKHEART:</font><hr> Would anyone here work for $800 dollars a week &amp; pay for insurance, utilities &amp; $10'000 to $30'000 in equipment? I think not. <hr /></blockquote>

I don't even make that much and I am a skilled tradesman /ccboard/images/graemlins/confused.gif

I also don't have 10-30,000$ invested in machinery either. Only a couple thousand in tools.

Rod
07-22-2004, 02:31 PM
$800 a week, sure I would. $50 an hour is dam good wages. Consider joe q is lucky to make 15 to 20 an hour. It seems to me that is at least part of why he can't command those prices. It depends on your standard of living. I think I'm hanging out in the wrong pool room.

Rod

woody_968
07-22-2004, 02:39 PM
800 a week isnt much when as he said, you have to pay for 10000 to 30000 in equipment, plus all the other expenses of just running a shop. If it was 800 a week clear, sure, we would all be turning out cues.

Cueless Joey
07-22-2004, 02:39 PM
[ QUOTE ]
So my 4 point vaneered cues cost the customer $525. THAT'S A STEAL <hr /></blockquote>
Jer, that is a steal.

BLACKHEART
07-22-2004, 02:51 PM
If I had to rent a building for my shop, I'd have to up my prices A LOT. I'm retired now &amp; don't have to make cues for a living. That too, is a factor for me...JER

ABChad
07-22-2004, 03:19 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Popcorn:</font><hr>

Primo BI maple---------------------$14.00
Ebony points &amp; butt sleeve ------- $12.00
Vaneers --------------------about $6.00
handle stock ---------------------$6.00
Shaft ---------------------------$10.00 more or less
Ferrule melamine ------------------$00.60
Triangle tip-----------------------$00.50
screw --------------------------$1.25 Radial about $8.00
Brass Insert --------------------$00.90
bumper ----------------------------$2.00
Finish ----------------------about $1.50
Phenolic parts ------------------- $3.00
Various weight screws and
connection pins -------------------$4.00
--------
Total cost $61.75 to $68.50

<hr /></blockquote>

Popcorn-

Your figures are a bit off... I work for a major supplier of these parts for cue making, and on average you are at about half the cost of these parts. Some of your pricing is even below wholesale prices! Need examples?

MAPLE GRIP STOCK.......$12.00
HARD ROCK MAPLE SHAFT..$20.00
MELAMINE FERRULE (MCB).$3.20
JOINT PIN..............$2.90
RADIAL PIN.............$16.00
UNI LOCK PIN...........$14.00
BRASS INSERT...........$1.55

Shall I continue? Besides the fact that there's no mention of any of the phenolic tube pricing, ring work, endmills, etc. Some phenolic tubes alone cost $40.00 per foot!!! To say that the total cost of the parts on a good custom cue is less than a couple hundred bucks is ludicrous! I hope this gives you guys a little more respect for your custom cue makers /ccboard/images/graemlins/blush.gif

SpiderMan
07-22-2004, 03:37 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Rod:</font><hr> $800 a week, sure I would. $50 an hour is dam good wages. Consider joe q is lucky to make 15 to 20 an hour. Rod <hr /></blockquote>

Rod,

I think $800 a week is only $20 an hour, not $50. Unless he's only working two days a week /ccboard/images/graemlins/wink.gif

SpiderMan

tateuts
07-22-2004, 03:43 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Popcorn:</font><hr>
Primo BI maple---------------------$14.00
Ebony points &amp; butt sleeve ------- $12.00
Vaneers --------------------about $6.00
handle stock ---------------------$6.00
Shaft ---------------------------$10.00 more or less
Ferrule melamine ------------------$00.60
Triangle tip-----------------------$00.50
screw --------------------------$1.25 Radial about $8.00
Brass Insert --------------------$00.90
bumper ----------------------------$2.00
Finish ----------------------about $1.50
Phenolic parts ------------------- $3.00
Various weight screws and
connection pins -------------------$4.00
--------
Total cost $61.75 to $68.50

<hr /></blockquote>


Thank you for taking the time and trouble to list this information - you did a lot of work. Hopefully, we'll be able to use this list in future posts when the costs come up.

Chris

dr_billiards
07-22-2004, 03:44 PM
You either want the cue made right ... and that takes time, or you want a piece of junk that was turned from green stock in a few hours. I personally would want a cue that is made right.

tateuts
07-22-2004, 03:52 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Big_Jon:</font><hr> Well some makers (i don't know who you were selling for, so this isn't a knock at him, or anybody, just an opinion) think that just because they have some ivory inlays, that a cue should sell itself. It just doesn't happen like that lol...

<hr /></blockquote>

Jon,

You are so right. In fact, I recall him once rubbing his hands together and saying "I like to put in all the little ivory inlays because it takes the price up so much!"

Still laughing over that one...

Chris

Rod
07-22-2004, 04:21 PM
[ QUOTE ]
is only $20 an hour <hr /></blockquote>

I know, I wasn't basing it on $50. Like I said I'd take the 20. Many Millions upon Millions of people would be more than happy for such wage. To use only is rather degrading, don't you think? I doubt you meant it in that context.

Not to mention you don't have to make $50 per hour to produce a good product. For those that think the product is better at 50 per hour, go right ahead and pay it.

Rod

Popcorn
07-22-2004, 04:27 PM
With all due respect yours are sucker prices for a guy working in his garage building a few cues.
No cuemaker is paying
$20.00 for shafts
Ferrules are bought by the rod not by the ferrule

Radial pins are available for $8.00 a pin right now and by around the end of the month "Radial type" may be available for even less from a well known supplier.

joint pins are $5.00 a foot making a 3 inch pin $1.25

Brass Inserts $.90 by the hundred

Grip stock $12.00, are you joking.

I am not going to post sources, cuemakers already know. You are a nice all in one place source, but if you want to use the word ludicrous, how about some of your prices. You don't manufacture most of what you sell you are just a re-seller. In many cases I buy from the same people you buy from. Give me a break. I found the whole tone of your post very insulting. I posted some good information that some may be interested in. You attempt to perpetuate the myth. You even posted the highest prices you have to offer and not the prices for quantity buying even from you. We try to be honest here. Just out of curiosity, even with your prices, let me see you list the prices of parts for a four point birds eye and ebony cue that add up to a couple hundred dollars.

Your prices
MAPLE GRIP STOCK.......$12.00
HARD ROCK MAPLE SHAFT..$20.00
MELAMINE FERRULE (MCB).$3.20
JOINT PIN..............$2.90
RADIAL PIN.............$16.00
UNI LOCK PIN...........$14.00
BRASS INSERT...........$1.55

Cueless Joey
07-22-2004, 06:08 PM
Pop, if you can tell me there's a radial pin out there ( the one with centerhole/pilot and aligning unthreaded rod) for $8, I'm all ears.
Joint pins that are threaded top to bottom are cheap and I have no interest in them.
Some pay $20 each for a AAA shaft dowel. Even at $10 each, with a 50% reject ratio, you get the picture. I get mine for $8 and they are as good as $20 from the two largest suppliers.
Non-laminated quartersawn grip stock, I get for $4.50 deliverd. I don't know how much laminated ones cost these days. I use mostly exotics anyway.
Threaded melamine costs around $3 but I use Ivor-X exclusively. Melamine are very good for break cues though and a ton of makers love them b/c they stay clean and are hard.
I pay more for my primo birdseye but I'm not complaining.
:-)

Jimmy B
07-23-2004, 03:23 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Popcorn:</font><hr> A cue is a utilitarian piece of sport equipment that can have some esthetic appeal as well as some collectable value. <hr /></blockquote>
I disagree and find that a major over simplification. I believe some cues are art, some are functional art. I can put a value on the design that goes into a cue, I can put a value on a name or the time spent perfecting a method or technique. To me a cue is a bit more then parts and labor. I guess to each his own, but there is definitely more to a cue then your small list. As far as people being fooled, I say educate yourself, buy what you like and spend in your budget, you will never go wrong.

JB

catscradle
07-23-2004, 05:30 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote woody_968:</font><hr> Big names will naturally bring a big price tag. But I can tell you I learned alot when I was in Madison Bobs shop. Actually I dont know how some of these guys can sell some of their cues for two or three hundred dollars. If they are going through the proper steps (giving the wood the proper curing time, and all the other stuff that I really dont know about) there is a tremendous amount of time and effort that goes into making any quality cue. Many times people just look at the material cost that goes into a cue, which can be pricy, but the real cost IMO is the time that must be put into a cue. Not just in the building of that particular cue, but the time they have spent making firewood in order to learn how to make the cue in the first place. <hr /></blockquote>

One comment, the curing time should not factor into the pricing because that doesn't involve his effort. He (the generic "he", not Bob Madison) can be busy working on other things while it is curing. If he has so little work or is so inefficient that he can't find anything to do while it cures, he really should think about another line of work.

catscradle
07-23-2004, 05:33 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote sliprock:</font><hr> Your friend wasn't making much when you consider the labor that went into 40+ ivory inlays. I haven't priced ivory but I would guess a cue like you described would only cost a couple hundred to build, and if it took 100 hours labor to build it. He's only making $9-$12 an hour. Then you factor in the cost of equipment, shop, marketing,etc. His business is not exactly fortune 500 stuff. <hr /></blockquote>
Isn't this true of almost all small businesses? Even a successful small business making a good profit will tend to factor out to not much PER HOUR for the owner. Generally in order to succeed in a small business incredible hours are required from the owner. Not saying it's right, just saying it's fact.

catscradle
07-23-2004, 05:48 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Rod:</font><hr> $800 a week, sure I would. $50 an hour is dam good wages. Consider joe q is lucky to make 15 to 20 an hour. It seems to me that is at least part of why he can't command those prices. It depends on your standard of living. I think I'm hanging out in the wrong pool room.

Rod <hr /></blockquote>

Your leaving off an important factor he mentioned, paying for insurance. If you're self-employed and have to provide your own health insurance it is going to eat a huge chunk of that 800.00 bucks a week. If you're working for somebody else and have decent benefits (insurance, vaca days paid, holidays paid, etc.), double your pay and that's really what you're being paid. Also don't forget that where you live in this country is a big factor in how much $800.00 really is. If you live in the northeast or California the cost of renting or buying a home is much higher than some other areas.
IMO, you're not neccessarily living high off the hog making 800 a week with no benefits.

kenz54
07-23-2004, 07:54 AM
Imo, a person who makes cues wears two hats. There is a very technical side and the artistic side assuming you want a playing cue. I think they are free to charge whatever they want and it is up to me the buyer to determine if the product they put out is worth it or not. A painter who works on canvas is charging very little for paint and canvas.....rather what they charge is for their artistic talent. How do you measure pride of ownership?

Cane
07-23-2004, 08:46 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote randyg:</font><hr> What is your job worth?....randyg <hr /></blockquote>

I don't build cues, have no desire to... I build custom bamboo fly rods. Now, much like a cue, I have a relatively low cost in materials in a flyrod, maybe between $100 and $200 depending on the rod and materials used. Now, my "cheapest" rod is $1200, my Presentation grades start at $2500. I have anywhere from 25 to 100 hours in each rod.

My point here, is that people aren't paying me for materials, they aren't paying me for bamboo, the guides, the reel seat, the burl woods used in the handle or the top of the line Portuguese cork on the grip, what they're paying me for is experience and craftsmanship. I am by no means comparing myself to an artist, but it's kind of like the story of Van Gough sitting in the town square drawing with charcoal. A lady comes up and asks him to do a portrait, which he does in about 15 minutes and it's perfect. She loves it and asks what she owes him. He says $15,000. She's in shock. "It only took you 15 minutes to do this, that's outrageous!!!". He said "Yeah, lady, but it took me 50 years to LEARN how to do it and that's what you're paying for".

Now in direct response to the original question, a custom cue should cost a price in line with the cuemaker's ability and experience, in other words whatever the buyer and the cuemaker can agree that it's worth. I have many custom cues, ranging in price from $350 to nearly $5000. Every one of them is worth every penny I paid for them.

Later
Bob

Popcorn
07-23-2004, 09:44 AM
I was attempting to simplify it. I just wanted to list what it really cost to build a cue minus any other considerations. I know some people really have no idea and the cue makers are a little deceptive as to what really goes into building a cue. Some may be artists, some are hacks and most build a good playing cue as a tool to play the sport.

Cueless Joey
07-23-2004, 09:52 AM
I wonder how much those engagement and wedding rings REALLY cost. /ccboard/images/graemlins/tongue.gif

Frank_Glenn
07-23-2004, 10:03 AM
[ QUOTE ]


One comment, the curing time should not factor into the pricing because that doesn't involve his effort. He (the generic "he", not Bob Madison) can be busy working on other things while it is curing. If he has so little work or is so inefficient that he can't find anything to do while it cures, he really should think about another line of work.

<hr /></blockquote>

Well, I think the fact that a cuemaker takes the proper time to let stuff cure and watches for movement, etc. when making his wares, is worth a dollar or two. You can't hurry this stuff, and you are paying for the knowledge that the cuemaker has as well as the art. If it was that easy, we would all just make our own cues. YMMV, Party On

Barbara
07-23-2004, 10:12 AM
Funny you should mention that, Joey. When Pete and I were shopping for wedding rings waaaaaaay back when, I couldn't believe my eyes what they were going for! Art Carved (brand name) rings were starting at $350. We just wanted some simple rings - nothing fancy. So we went to a jeweler that had made some custom jewelry for my father. He charged us "the old price of gold" and my wedding ring ended up being $35 and Pete's was $65. Mine's 1/8" wide, his is 1/4", to give you an idea of the widths. In the other jewelry store they wanted $200 for the same ring. Talk about a markup!

Barbara

Popcorn
07-23-2004, 10:27 AM
Jack Justis the cue case maker was a well known fishing pole builder before he began building cases.

BLACKHEART
07-23-2004, 10:28 AM
/ccboard/images/graemlins/confused.gifSomething else that does enter into the picture. Let's say you make $2000 in a a month. Lets take a round figure &amp; say that you have to pay 20% in taxes, on that money. That leaves you $1600 to put in the bank. If you leave it there, you will have to pay taxes on the interest ONLY. I have $8000 worth of wood &amp; materials in my stock. EVERY YEAR THAT I HAVE THAT $8000 WORTH OF WOOD, I PAY TAXES ON IT AS IF IT WERE BRAND NEW INCOME. That will eat into your profits in a hurry &amp; you'll have to add that to the cost of each cue...JER

Rod
07-23-2004, 10:35 AM
I didn't leave off anything in my case. If one has a lot of debt, then that's their problem. It stands to reason they have to make more or spend less. Like I said, standard of living. The area is a factor but then they know that before they live there. You are correct, your not living high off the hog.

Popcorn
07-23-2004, 10:56 AM
My wife and I did the same thing. Our wedding rings are exactly the same as a set that was $700 in Mayors jewelers. I bought the wax pieces for $2.00 and used an old gold bangle bracelet I had for the gold. I had a local place cast them and it was around $50.00 for both.

Cueless Joey
07-23-2004, 11:14 AM
I'm happy to note the quality of marriages is not determined by the price of the relationship jewelry.

SpiderMan
07-23-2004, 11:49 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Rod:</font><hr>

&lt;/font&gt;&lt;blockquote&gt;&lt;font class="small"&gt;Quote:&lt;/font&gt;&lt;hr /&gt;
is only $20 an hour <hr /></blockquote>

I know, I wasn't basing it on $50. Like I said I'd take the 20. Many Millions upon Millions of people would be more than happy for such wage. To use only is rather degrading, don't you think? I doubt you meant it in that context.Rod <hr /></blockquote>

No, I was only responding to what appeared to be an arithmatic error .... you said $800 a week and $50 an hour in the same breath, so it looked as if you were thinking them one and the same.

SpiderMan

tateuts
07-23-2004, 12:01 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote BLACKHEART:</font><hr> /ccboard/images/graemlins/confused.gifSomething else that does enter into the picture. Let's say you make $2000 in a a month. Lets take a round figure &amp; say that you have to pay 20% in taxes, on that money. That leaves you $1600 to put in the bank. If you leave it there, you will have to pay taxes on the interest ONLY. I have $8000 worth of wood &amp; materials in my stock. EVERY YEAR THAT I HAVE THAT $8000 WORTH OF WOOD, I PAY TAXES ON IT AS IF IT WERE BRAND NEW INCOME. That will eat into your profits in a hurry &amp; you'll have to add that to the cost of each cue...JER <hr /></blockquote>

Jer,

Nobody was disputing the cost of a cue. What I wanted to do was make an estimate about what the cost of a cue really is. We've learned that the matertials are really not a significant factor in the cost of a cue. Raw materials only cost 20% or less of the selling price.

You will not find a businessman like me who thinks that profit is a bad word. If you do, you will find someone who spends a lot of time in bankruptcy court. Businesspeople know that the second biggest sin on the face of the planet is to spin your wheels and not make a profit -with the first biggest sin being spinning your wheels and losing your ass.

I figured labor and overhead at $50 per hour in a one man shop - that's just cost no profit. The cost of your own time and overhead - probably 50% time and 50% overhead. This is the way you have to look at it. If you have 10 hours into a cue and $75 in material, you have to sell it for $575 just to break even. If you can get $800 you've made a reasonable profit. To compound those profits, you have to eliminate waste and keep sales moving. Then there is advertising and sales expenses. The cost of selling a cue alone could easliy be $100 each in time, advertising, and wasted time. You could easily have $10 to $20 in just finish materials and waste disposal. On and on.

No need to be defensive about prices. The fact of the matter is, at the low end of the price spectrum is where the real tough competition is. How would you like to compete against Walmart? At the high end, there is less competition and life is good.

Chris

Cueless Joey
07-23-2004, 12:11 PM
[ QUOTE ]
The fact of the matter is, at the low end of the price spectrum is where the real tough competition is. How would you like to compete against Walmart? At the high end, there is less competition and life is good.
<hr /></blockquote>
The high-end makers are struggling now too I am told.
There's a price war going on in Japan now.
Some makers do find a niche. My mentor has no problems selling his no points cues at around $900.
Then there are two makers local to me, Ned Morris and Eddie Prewitt, who have no problems selling their cues at all.
Cm's have to make a "profit" which usually is spent in more materials and tooling/equipment. Once he has all the tooling he needs, that's when the real profits come in.
The makers who buy fancy cnc machines and think they can just jack up their prices are in for a shock.
People keep saying the hit of the cues are subjective. But, somehow SOME cuemakers who are known for the hit of their cues thrive. I know one who doesn't even answer phone calls anymore. One dealer told me he keeps calling him and he doesn't return messages anymore.

ABChad
07-23-2004, 12:38 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Popcorn:</font><hr> With all due respect yours are sucker prices for a guy working in his garage building a few cues....

I found the whole tone of your post very insulting. I posted some good information that some may be interested in. You attempt to perpetuate the myth. You even posted the highest prices you have to offer and not the prices for quantity buying even from you.
<hr /></blockquote>

Pop-

And you want to talk about insulting? First of all I know exactly what these materials cost, and I know what they cost when we buy them in quantities of 10,000 or more. I am very aware.

Second of all, we sell parts to more major cue manufacturers than I dare list without breaching privacy rights.

Third of all, there is a very wide range of outstanding cue makers out there from the huge manufacturers to small guys in small one-stoplight towns. This list was also posted to provide the other end of the spectrum. I think we are all intelligent enough to realize that if you buy a 100,000 parts from a manufacturer a year you pay less per part than someone buying 10.

So, a sucker in his garage huh? Look, if you want to get into a who's co*k is bigger argument... it's not that kind of party! LOL In no way was I trying to be insulting, for this I apologize. That post was NOT a personal attack. Even so, this does not give you the right to slander my name OR the company I work for. You are right when you say that there is a misconception about the price of some of these components, but it works in both ways.

The best of luck to you Pop!

PS&gt; I sincerely hope that this public argument in no way hinders any professional relationship between us. I have great respect and value for your opinion, and I thoroughly enjoy reading and responding to your posts!

woody_968
07-23-2004, 12:54 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote catscradle:</font><hr>

One comment, the curing time should not factor into the pricing because that doesn't involve his effort. He (the generic "he", not Bob Madison) can be busy working on other things while it is curing. If he has so little work or is so inefficient that he can't find anything to do while it cures, he really should think about another line of work.

<hr /></blockquote>

I understand your point, I just dont agree with it /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif
As I believe it was Frank mentioned, the fact that they give it time to cure and dont rush it through is worth something. But my point was even though they are not standing around just waiting for it to cure (Bob is becomming very popular and Im sure has enough work to stay busy) some of the wood that these guys work with can be in there shop for a long time during the process. But when they are not in the shop it still must have climate control which costs money. I know most will say that is in normal operating cost, but I dont think some people realise how long some of these cuemakers will work with the same piece of wood. It may only be a few minutes here and there, but that cue has been in their shop for many times months to some times years.

Popcorn
07-23-2004, 01:23 PM
All I can say is, the prices I quoted are the exact prices I pay, I am not speculating or making them up. You are welcome to charge what ever the market will bare. Even with Phenolic costing as much as $40.00 a foot, if I use 5/8 of an inch for a butt cap it still is only about a $2.00 in cost per cue. It would not be possible to get the cost of a plain four point cue up to a couple hundred dollars in materials even if the parts were bought one piece at a time from your company. You entered the discussion with an agenda and did like what I had to say. I am sorry I was just telling the truth.

ABChad
07-23-2004, 01:46 PM
Popcorn-

Oops! I think that I skipped over the part where you stated this was a "plain" four point cue... your estimate is still a little low (in my opinion of course), but is fairly accurate. The range I figured for a standard to a fancy (ringwork etc.) no inlay four pointer would be ~$80-$135 in costs depending on the quality and age of the hardwoods. In my previous post I was figuring on a mid-range custom cue (a level III definition by the I.C.A.). Can I have your permission to remove my foot from my mouth now? LOL /ccboard/images/graemlins/blush.gif

Frank_Glenn
07-23-2004, 01:58 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote woody_968:</font><hr> <blockquote><font class="small">Quote catscradle:</font><hr>

One comment, the curing time should not factor into the pricing because that doesn't involve his effort. He (the generic "he", not Bob Madison) can be busy working on other things while it is curing. If he has so little work or is so inefficient that he can't find anything to do while it cures, he really should think about another line of work.

<hr /></blockquote>

I understand your point, I just dont agree with it /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif
As I believe it was Frank mentioned, the fact that they give it time to cure and dont rush it through is worth something. But my point was even though they are not standing around just waiting for it to cure (Bob is becomming very popular and Im sure has enough work to stay busy) some of the wood that these guys work with can be in there shop for a long time during the process. But when they are not in the shop it still must have climate control which costs money. I know most will say that is in normal operating cost, but I dont think some people realise how long some of these cuemakers will work with the same piece of wood. It may only be a few minutes here and there, but that cue has been in their shop for many times months to some times years. <hr /></blockquote>

Sometimes, on the last pass a check or flaw shows up and grows to the point that the piece is unusable for it's intended purpose. Now all the time and material spent on this project is gone and the cuemaker has to start over. For custom work (or commisioned work, if you will, rather than a cue that is just being made to go in the for-sale case) this is a major setback. A time was given to the customer for competion. Sometimes the problem is explained and the customer is OK with it and the project goes on, sometimes a sale is lost, and sometimes the customer never even knows about why the cue took and extra month or two. This cost for all this extra work has to be factored in to the overall charge for work, too. Nobody really does this for fun, they do it for fun &amp; proffit, IMO (if in fact you do it for fun, I will be glad to have any of your finished projects so you can start on a new one).

Popcorn
07-23-2004, 02:01 PM
I just wanted to use a plain four point cue with birds eye ebony points with vaneers as a bench mark for the point of discussion. Whether it was build by me or Barry Szamboti the cost of materials are the same as long as we both choose to use the same quality. From there on the actual selling price is completely subjective and the value is as with everything, a willing buyer and a willing seller.

Cueless Joey
07-23-2004, 02:30 PM
[ QUOTE ]
Sometimes, on the last pass a check or flaw shows up and grows to the point that the piece is unusable for it's intended purpose. <hr /></blockquote>
That happens.
Also happens on shafts.

Frank_Glenn
07-23-2004, 03:39 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Cueless Joey:</font><hr> &lt;/font&gt;&lt;blockquote&gt;&lt;font class="small"&gt;Quote:&lt;/font&gt;&lt;hr /&gt;
Sometimes, on the last pass a check or flaw shows up and grows to the point that the piece is unusable for it's intended purpose. <hr /></blockquote>
That happens.
Also happens on shafts. <hr /></blockquote>

Yes and not much can be done on shafts that this happens to. sometimes the other piece can be salvaged for inlays or rings or points, but if it's in the forearm, you can't use it for the forearm any more. Anyway, my point was the average cue buyer is probably unaware of these type problems unless they have had the misfortune for it to happen and the cuemaker showed or told them about it, and it adds to the overhead (or more likely is built in to the finished cost of all cues so that it is amortised over time).

BLACKHEART
07-23-2004, 09:02 PM
This exact situation happened to me, this past winter. I was in the last stages of a $1800 Q, that was ordered by a friend. This Q had 6 points, Ivory inlays at the tops of the 3 short point &amp; 6 in the butt sleave. It had 2 shafts with ivory in the ferrules,joint &amp; butt cap. I do my inlays when the Q is .070 over size. At this size I noticed a small black dot. By the time I took it to it's final size, the black dot had turned into a gapping black hole. All of that work &amp; materials were just a pretty piece of junk. I had to start all over &amp; the guy got his Q 6 months latter...JER

Scott Lee
07-23-2004, 11:23 PM
JER...I was going to post the exact same thing. Once, I was in Joe Gold's (Cognoscenti) shop and he was finishing installing some delicate ivory inlays in a cue selling for more than $5000. He cracked one of the inlays accidentally, and took the cue over to the table saw, cut it in half, and threw it in the trash...all the while I was screaming "NOOOOOOOOO, give it to ME!" LOL His philosophy was that no cue would ever leave his shop that wasn't PERFECT. Damn perfectionists! LMAO However, I undstand his and your point, in terms of what can happen at any stage of the cue's production. It's still money and time down the drain. /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif

Scott

Popcorn
07-24-2004, 02:11 AM
That doesn't even make any sense. If it was something that effected the integrity of the cue that is one thing, but an inlay? You just set it aside and at some point you will have a revelation and fix it maybe doing an over lapping inlay that will look like it was the original intention anyway. I will assume the story is true but if it is, he needs some therapy. What he did may have been more for your benefit then anything else and he would not have done it if no one was around.. His type are most afraid of making mistakes in front of someone or have it found out.

SpiderMan
07-26-2004, 08:14 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote BLACKHEART:</font><hr> This exact situation happened to me, this past winter. I was in the last stages of a $1800 Q, that was ordered by a friend. This Q had 6 points, Ivory inlays at the tops of the 3 short point &amp; 6 in the butt sleave. It had 2 shafts with ivory in the ferrules,joint &amp; butt cap. I do my inlays when the Q is .070 over size. At this size I noticed a small black dot. By the time I took it to it's final size, the black dot had turned into a gapping black hole. All of that work &amp; materials were just a pretty piece of junk. I had to start all over &amp; the guy got his Q 6 months latter...JER <hr /></blockquote>

In a case like this, what do you do with the original cue that had the flaw? I realize it may not be suitable for the original purchaser, because he asked for something specific, but couldn't you change the pattern/design to correct the appearance and then sell it to someone else? Or do you guys really throw away usable cues after that much work is invested?

SpiderMan

Popcorn
07-26-2004, 08:49 AM
Richard Black used to sell off the cues that were not perfect for one reason or another. They did not have his name on them though. Speaking of shaft wood, if you are buying top quality wood, even if some does not live up to being on a high end cue, it is still good for a jump cue or break cue or something. It is not a loss of any kind you will still make a profit on it. Like I said before if a guy is actually throwing away 50% of his shaft wood, (like some claim and I don't believe anyway) he needs a new supplier, that is just ridiculous. Wood in a one inch dowel of square tells you all you need to know about that piece of wood. No huge knot or something is going to appear that you can't tell at that point. If it did it would be Very Very rare.

Scott Lee
07-26-2004, 10:16 AM
Popcorn...Nope, it wouldn't matter whether someone was around or not. Joe Gold is such a perfectionist (not necessarily a positive trait...LOL) that he is just that way. The inlay was very intricate, and easy to break...difficult to repair or replace (you'd have to drill it out and start over...which I'd do on a $5K cue, if it were me!).

Scott Lee

BLACKHEART
07-26-2004, 10:19 AM
The hole that was in that Q, was in the birdseye maple, in a very awqward spot. I Tryed &amp; tryed to incorpeate a design that would hide it, but never came up with anything that looked quite right. I kept it around for several years &amp; finally cut it up &amp; used it to make inlays &amp; rings...JER

Popcorn
07-26-2004, 02:03 PM
Troubleshooting and dealing with the everyday unexpected's is a big part of being in business. The worst part of being like he is, is they fear making mistakes so much they become almost immobilized by it, suffering constant stress even by the most simple task. You are very right when you say it is not a positive trait. It is too bad he has to be like that, it must spoil whatever pleasure he should be getting from his business.

Scott Lee
07-26-2004, 09:40 PM
Popcorn...Joe Gold RARELY makes mistakes (I know of only two in more than 10 years of cuemaking...one of which I happened to see). He is a first-rate craftsman, and makes a superior product. He is not "stressed out", and loves making cues (who wouldn't making the kind of $$$ he does! LOL).

Scott Lee

crawdaddio
07-26-2004, 10:34 PM
I heard a story (no idea if it's true) that a friend of a friend was in Joe Gold's shop and was asking him if his G10 pin was really that strong and 'wouldn't it break if I broke real hard?' Joe picked up a finished cue, unscrewed it and slammed the pin into a 2x4 (like a dagger). Cool story if it's true........ /ccboard/images/graemlins/smirk.gif

Jimmy B
07-27-2004, 02:27 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Scott Lee:</font><hr> Popcorn...Joe Gold RARELY makes mistakes (I know of only two in more than 10 years of cuemaking...one of which I happened to see).
Scott Lee <hr /></blockquote>

LOL LOL Scott you're funny.

JB

Cueless Joey
07-27-2004, 08:52 AM
It's probably true.
But, try placing that G10 on a vise and hit it from the side.

Scott Lee
07-27-2004, 10:04 AM
David...That particular story is true (it's told in the book, "Playing Off The Rail"). However, the G-10 epoxy pin WILL break, if enough side pressure is put on it to shear it off. Even so (this has happened to a very few cues), Joe guarantees the pin for life, and will replace any broken ones at no charge.

Scott Lee

TomBrooklyn
08-02-2004, 08:25 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Popcorn:</font><hr> they fear making mistakes so much they become almost immobilized by it, suffering constant stress even by the most simple task. <hr /></blockquote>You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don't try. --Beverly Sills

TomBrooklyn
08-02-2004, 08:29 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote BLACKHEART:</font><hr>I Tryed &amp; tryed to incorpeate a design that would hide it, but never came up with anything that looked quite right.<hr /></blockquote> Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper for lacking ideas. He also went bankrupt several times before he built Disneyland.

<blockquote><font class="small">Quote BLACKHEART:</font><hr>I kept it around for several years &amp; finally cut it up &amp; used it to make inlays &amp; rings.<hr /></blockquote>One of the secrets of life is to make stepping stones out of stumbling blocks. --Jack Penn