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View Full Version : Would you pay top dollar for a robot-made cue?



Cueless Joey
04-24-2003, 02:38 PM
Let's say you saw very pretty cue.
Let's say the wood used are very good.
The inlays and points are perfect.
The design is fabulous.
But, the cue was assembled using a robot. All the cuemaker (assembler?) had to do was glue the parts and finish the cue. Assuming he did design the cue though and turn down the woods himself.
Would you think less of the cue because the cuemaker did not operate a manually operated machine to make the cue pretty?

TomBrooklyn
04-24-2003, 03:27 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Cueless Joey:</font><hr>Would you think less of the cue because the cuemaker did not operate a manually operated machine to make the cue pretty? <hr /></blockquote>Sort of, but not really. For instance, a handpainted canvas is more highly valued than a print, all other things being equal. But the print is striving to look like the canvas. In the case of cue sticks, the handmade cueist is trying to make his quality match that of the CNC machine. There is nothing a cuemaker can do that a computer machine can't, unlike the painter. No graphics machine has been invented that can replace a painters imagination and ability to apply color to medium.

Popcorn
04-24-2003, 04:12 PM
I will say this, automation and the ability to build more product, faster and cheaper usually results in a lower price to the consumer. This does not seem to be the case when it comes to cues though. The answer is no, I would pay more for a hand crafted product that was unique and one of a kind and limited in production. How can something mass produced in unlimited quantities be worth as much as something of limited production assuming the quality was equal?

Tom_In_Cincy
04-24-2003, 05:07 PM
Tom,
A lot of production cues are done by CNC machines, and a lot of cue makers use them also.

A hand crafted cue is "unique", albiet easy to duplicate the design, its in the details that provide the 'uniquenes'. Each cue made by hand has inlays that are made for differently. The cue makers cannot reproduce exactly what they have done previously. They can only come close.

Check closely how an inlay has a just a little black between it and the wood (this is easy to see unless the inlay is Black). This is an imperfection that is common with inlays, no cue maker is perfect and these do stand out. The really good cue makers can do a very good job of getting these details to a point (sorry for the pun) that you need a magnifing glass to see them.

Just my opinion. BTW, my Pete Omen cue is 'unique' made especially for me, using my specifications. Including shaft taper, joint size and butt size.

TomBrooklyn
04-24-2003, 06:03 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Tom_In_Cincy:</font><hr> Check closely how an inlay has a just a little black between it and the wood. This is an imperfection that is common with inlays. ...my Pete Omen cue is 'unique' made especially for me, using my specifications. <hr /></blockquote>The thing about a hand made cue, like you said Tom, is that it has visible imperfections. So it seems kind of incongruous that having imperfections would make the cue worth more than it being more perfect. Now if the cuemaker could do something that the computer machine couldn't do, I would say there is value in that, but I don't think there is such a thing.

The point you and Popcorn made about uniqueness is certainly valid. Being one of a kind certainly makes something more valuable than being one of many. And having something made to your specifications certainly is worth more than settling for some standard. But if a computer machine was used to make a one of a kind cue to your specifications, just with more perfectly cut inlays, which one would be better?

Tom_In_Cincy
04-24-2003, 06:17 PM
TomBrooklyn wrote:
[ QUOTE ]
But if a computer machine was used to make a one of a kind cue to your specifications, just with more perfectly cut inlays, which one would be better? <hr /></blockquote>

IMO the hand crafted.

But, you have to admit that if the computer machine were capable of matching the hand made product, its because the crafter of the hand made product is an excellent machine programer.. and a craftsmen at both fields.

Computers are only a tool. And work only as good as the user.

I will admit that there are a lot of 'good' CNC production cues, but, IMO, they don't come close to the craftsmanship I have seen from the hand made cues.

Playablity, now that's a different subject altogether.

My specs and production cues are not even close.

charlieb
04-24-2003, 09:20 PM
I definitely appreciate the effort, craftemanship and the design of a man made cue. CNC points are not real points to me. Give me a cuemaker who has learned the various skills and experienced the failures of the learning process and is now capable of making a beautiful looking cue while keeping in his mind at all times the concept of the hit and playability of each of his cues. The positives of the robot constructed cue I can agree on to a degree but even if I had one would I "feel" the same towards it as the man made one? No!! I want the "heart" of the cuemaker in my cue. Just my preference.

Irish
04-25-2003, 01:34 AM
Hand made cue is worth alot more. The robot cue is hardly "art" at all imo.

A person could use modern tools to make a much more realistic sculture then anything made in the greek era of artistic glory. A pot could be made these days with modern techniques that are much more precise in detail then a hand painted vase from the Ming Dynasty. We can buy a golden brooch these days that is far more detailed then an antique brooch off the Spanish shipwreck the Atocha.

The true fan of artistic style and skill will know why we apreciate those items that are hand made through pure skill, practice, and the endless hours it takes to make a true work of art. The handmade cue has a soul to me that is infused into it by the maker, the other cue made by a robot is a sterile and souless tool at best.

griffith_d
04-25-2003, 06:28 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote TomBrooklyn:</font><hr> <blockquote><font class="small">Quote Tom_In_Cincy:</font><hr> Check closely how an inlay has a just a little black between it and the wood. This is an imperfection that is common with inlays. ...my Pete Omen cue is 'unique' made especially for me, using my specifications. <hr /></blockquote>The thing about a hand made cue, like you said Tom, is that it has visible imperfections. So it seems kind of incongruous that having imperfections would make the cue worth more than it being more perfect. Now if the cuemaker could do something that the computer machine couldn't do, I would say there is value in that, but I don't think there is such a thing.

The point you and Popcorn made about uniqueness is certainly valid. Being one of a kind certainly makes something more valuable than being one of many. And having something made to your specifications certainly is worth more than settling for some standard. But if a computer machine was used to make a one of a kind cue to your specifications, just with more perfectly cut inlays, which one would be better? <hr /></blockquote>

Better is in the eye of the beholder,...worth more is also the same to a point,...now playability is another area,...

I would pay more if the materials are better and put together better,...I would prefer point cuts to be perfect,..not rounded or sloppy,..or the artwork in the butt to look bad because it was hand done. I would like the cue maker to make as much by hand as possible, but it still takes a machine to make a cue,...lathe, drill press, bandsaw and so on.

Let's face it,...we do not make dovetail cuts in drawers by hand anymore(yes, there are some still) and the furniture is still worth a lot of money because the materials that go into it are expensive.

Precision in cues has taken its toll in being "handmade", because of the invention of CNC machines,...but there is something to be said for being precise.

Griff

bluewolf
04-25-2003, 06:44 AM
I have a custom cue made by blackheart which is great. It is middle balanced. I have a preator sp. The predator was a little back weighted for my liking. A friend who does cue repair took .5 oz out of the back, so it is now less back weighted and shoots more to my liking.

Some people have very specific preferences and for these people, I think that custom is the way to go. Others like the production cues great. I have talked to these folks. That is how that I know.

Laura

pooltchr
04-25-2003, 06:59 AM
I think the original question was would you pay top dollar for one. It would depend on my purpose in buying it. If I am buying it for an investment, I would have to consider a hand make cue. If it is going to be the tool I use in my game, then playability becomes much more important than asthetics. I have heard it said that the importance of each part of a cue diminishes the farther away from the tip you go. Given that line of thought, isn't it strange that most of the expense of a "high dollar" cue is in the butt?

Fred Agnir
04-25-2003, 07:10 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Cueless Joey:</font><hr> Let's say you saw very pretty cue.
Let's say the wood used are very good.
The inlays and points are perfect.
The design is fabulous.
But, the cue was assembled using a robot. All the cuemaker (assembler?) had to do was glue the parts and finish the cue. Assuming he did design the cue though and turn down the woods himself.
Would you think less of the cue because the cuemaker did not operate a manually operated machine to make the cue pretty? <hr /></blockquote>This is all theoretical, right? To my knowledge, there are no robots assembling cues. And I'm a Automation and Robotics Assembly Engineer, so I think I know what I'm talking about. At least, that's what I tell people.

Anyway, here's my take which means nothing to your question probably. Much of what I'm going to write applies to any and every field that has come to use technology as it develops.

Making cues, even with a CNC isn't like putting a piece of wood in one end, and out pops a cue on the other end. The machinists in the Mold Making/Tool Making industry completely embrace the CNC technology, with nobody romanticizing about the "lost art" of handwork. Besides, just like in cues, there's still plenty of handwork leftover. More manhours can be spent on design considerations, aesthetic considerations, and overal improving cues if less time is spent actually cutting the cue (or mold, tool, ballister, trim, etc.)

If I had a bone to pick with "newish" cuemakers that do use a CNC, it's that I'd like them to expand their horizons and push the CNC to the envelope. Some, like Sheldon Lebow (http://www.sheldoncue) and his little CNC are doing just that. Pushing it. Doing things that can't honestly be done without a CNC.

Using a CNC is only about making parts, not putting the parts together. The assembly techniques, the designs of the mating parts, those ideas are worth over half if not more of what goes into a CNC-made cue. I think there's some misconception out there that all a CNC cuemaker does is "assemble." That's impossible. You still have to have the knowledge machining, fabrication methods, materials, and fits.

There are many, but one of the greatest cuemakers in the world that have pushed the CNC envelope is Thomas Wayne. Thomas Wayne has made cues with CNC technology, but the very best of his cues, even if you and I had the same program we would never be able to duplicate the cue. If Thomas Wayne's cues (like St. Patrick's Nightmare, the Puzzle Cue, Dem Bones) are what you're talking about with "Robot assembled", then the fact that he didn't "manually operate a machine" to make the cue pretty is a non-issue to me.

BTW, engine lathes and any other power feed lathes are "semi-automatic" so to speak, especially if you're doing, say, a shaft taper using a spring-loaded cam-following taper jig. Is the cuemaker to be frowned upon if he uses this "non-manual" approach?

Fred Agnir &lt;~~~ didn't answer the question

John G
04-25-2003, 09:22 AM
No Fred,I think you did answer the question. And I believe you're correct. People all to often associate a type of magic with CNC but it is in fact nothing more then a very accurate machining method.

From the basic construction design to the mating of complimentry materials and finally to the fit, gluing, and assembly of the cue, it is in deed the cuebuilder that builds the cue.

Most people, when thinking of CNC have this attitude you just throw a piece of material in and out comes a finished product. Nothing could be further from the truth. They should be aware of the hours that go in to the programing that runs this machine. (and what happens if you type one bad line of code). When cutting inlays with CNC the machine is only as good as the person that sets it up.

On a personal note I use both conventional pantographs and a CNC mill. Would I use all CNC equipment, Absolutly, if I could afford top of the line equipment. CNC doesnt have to mean unending replication, it can mean accuracy, and accuracy in cue building is the ultimate challenge. Thats why I hand fit every part to assure consistancy in the hit and feel of the cue

While it's true that CNC tecnology is used for mass replication and production It is also true that it still takes the skill of the craftsman to build a uninque, one of a kind product that results in the intended performance.

As far as inlay designs those are from the mind of the artist. Why should any one feel cheated or slighted if you offer them near perfection as long as what you offer is unique to and for them alone.

No I think the dislike of the CNC is the result of ignorance and a unjustified egotisim. Because, afterall, they are still only machines and any machine is only as good as the master that uses it. John G

Popcorn
04-25-2003, 11:54 AM
I think the knock on the cnc sometimes is, what is really a plain birdseye cue or other hard wood, worth maybe $400. moves to the cnc panograph and has replicated points cut in, along with some inlay and it becomes a $1500. cue. It is really a replica of a spliced cue, It does not require the building involved in a real spliced but cue. I have seen Joss east cues with finger joints under the wrap indicating boards have glued up and sliced off for into turning squares. Next comes the panographed points some inlay and bingo you have what "LOOKS" like a cue. It is, as far as I am concerned just a replica of a cue, and the money asked for something like this is often really out of line considering the way the cue is build. I knew Burton Spain and he had definite ideas about these kinds of cues and it was not good. I myself would not own a cue with panographed points, for lack of a better term, they are fake. They is meant to look like something they are not. In the opinion of some cuemakers, may even detract from the strength and play of the cue. Just my opinion

John G
04-25-2003, 01:00 PM
Popcorn,
I agree that points applied with a pantograph or CNC are only replicas. There are actually 3 ways points are put in a cue. The most popular is the aformentioned,It's relativly simple and takes less skill. The second way is the full splice or finger joint. Though many can do this only a few have the skill to do it properly. The third method is the half splice Where the points are vee cut and set.

Unfortunatatly the half splice has degenerated into little more then a vee inlay because the vee is terminated just below the top of the wrap.

The full splice is intended to give spine and strength to the butt. It provides a quality of hit not attainable with a conventional mortice and tenon. However if a half splice is done properly and the vees are integrated into a properly designed mortice and tenon the result can be and in some ways are superior to the full splice. The details of which I'll not divulge. However I will say it offers more flexability with the balance and the desired 'hit' of the cue and at the same time makes it possible to weight the cue naturaly. ( no metal other then the joint screw )

In my opinion there are only two ways to properly build a cue, The full splice or what I like to refer as a 3/4 splice. Anything short of these and you end up with a cue that vibrates, has poor penetration and in many cases has high squirt potential.

As to the subject of inlays, I personaly don't believe inlays can be placed indescrimantly in the forarm without having an adverse affect on the 'hit' There are factors that need be addressed. Again something I wont go into in this forum.
Kind regards, John G

Fred Agnir
04-25-2003, 01:14 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Popcorn:</font><hr> moves to the cnc panograph <hr /></blockquote>Not for nothing, but in case anyone doesn't realize, CNC and pantograph are completely different and nearly unrelated. Because both (CNC mill and pantograph) use a rotary cutting tool (end mill or similar), the final look of an inlayed point might look similar, usually with a rounded point rather than a sharp point. But that's the only relation. The use of a CNC goes miles beyond a pantagraphed point and IMO, shouldn't be thought of in such limited terms.

Fred

Popcorn
04-25-2003, 01:49 PM
A cutter routs a pocket, whether run by little motors or by a human hand using a templet, what is the difference?

Fred Agnir
04-25-2003, 01:55 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Popcorn:</font><hr> A cutter routs a pocket, whether run by little motors or by a human hand using a templet, what is the difference? <hr /></blockquote>Are you serious? Does this mean you don't know what a CNC is actually capable of doing? I can't tell by the question.

Fred

9 Ball Girl
04-25-2003, 02:18 PM
A robot made cue. Forgive me for being cynical, but wouldn't it still be a human programming the robot? /ccboard/images/graemlins/tongue.gif

Wendy~~~guilty of not reading the whole thread! /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif

Popcorn
04-25-2003, 03:53 PM
I am referring to the end result, as it applies to cutting pockets in a cue, not a high demand for either man or machine. You make it sound like there is some result achieved by a cnc run panograph that could not be equaled by cutting manually with a templet. Whether cut by cnc or manually, a point that is nothing more then an inlay, a fake point, is not superior to a spliced point, which was my original point.

Fred Agnir
04-26-2003, 06:04 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Popcorn:</font><hr> I am referring to the end result, as it applies to cutting pockets in a cue. You make it sound like there is some result achieved by a cnc run panograph that could not be equaled by cutting manually with a templet. <hr /></blockquote>What is a CNC-run pantograph? I don't mean to sound insulting, but it pretty much sounds like you don't know what a CNC is and capable of. There is no such thing as a CNC-run pantograph. CNC-milling replaces pantograph milling. That's why I posted in the first place. Cuemakers who group together CNC and the Pantograph simply shouldn't, IMO. It's beyond semantics. It's confusing. CNC isn't the mill or the tool. It's the motion controls. Many different tools can be run by a CNC. To think of it in terms of end mills (rotary flat bottom cutter) only is limiting, as I said.

Yes, I do believe ... strike that... I know for damn sure even if we're talking about rounded inlaid points, there are things you can do with a CNC that would be nearly impossible (I'd say impossible)using a pantograph. There's just no question about it. And not just because I say so. If I set up a CNC mill (which I don't do), but used a 90 cutter instead of an end mill, you could get a super accurate short-splice v-grooves.


[ QUOTE ]
Whether cut by cnc or manually, a point that is nothing more then an inlay, a fake point, is not superior to a spliced point, which was my original point. <hr /></blockquote>Ok, lets say that the spliced point has gaps, and the CNC (forget manually) inlaid point doesn't. Which one is superior? And BTW, I'm of the camp that doesn't think the short-splice has any more function than flat-bottom inlaid points. Furthermore, in my definition (other world), not cuemaker definition, the short-splice isn't a splice. It's just called that to sound good and healthy, but it's an inlay as well.

Fred

Popcorn
04-26-2003, 06:53 AM
I know what cnc is, and yes it can be used for from painting cars to laser eye surgery. If I set up a milling machine and mill a piece, the cnc can't improve the cut, it can't make my machine any better then it is capable of, it like you said just controls the motion. It does make it much easier to repeat operations and will free up the operator to do other things. One operator could run several machines at a time.

"quote"
"Ok, lets say that the spliced point has gaps, and the CNC (forget manually) inlaid point doesn't. Which one is superior."

Why would the splice have gaps? It's quality is only going to be as good as the machine that cuts it, regardless what is controlling the machine. If the points were V cut with a cnc mill and the cue was assembled properly there is no problem. If the point is just a flat inlay glued into a pocket I do have a problem. That is what I am talking about, using panographed points, fake points, in the cue and the value of a cue built this way. I have no problem what kind of machines the cuemaker uses as long as the cue is built properly. Regardless what you choose to call it, a V made splice is superior to a flat bottomed inlaid point.

TonyM
04-26-2003, 06:02 PM
"And BTW, I'm of the camp that doesn't think the short-splice has any more function than flat-bottom inlaid points."

Well, I've actually measured a difference in the stiffness of a v-bottom pointed forearm and a flat-bottom pointed forearm. So there is a difference. Now, whether this extra stiffness actually MEANS anything to the player (as in enhanced playability or "hit") is open to debate ( for some people).

They can produce a different end-product. Whether it is superior or not........

" Furthermore, in my definition (other world), not cuemaker definition, the short-splice isn't a splice. It's just called that to sound good and healthy, but it's an inlay as well. "

I agree with this 100% Fred!

The so-called "short-splice" is really "v-bottom inlays" imo.

As opposed to flat bottomed inlays.

They allow you to get truly sharp points that cannot be achieved with a rotating cutter, unless it is chiseled out to a sparp corner by hand after cutting.

Some people like the look of sharp points.

To each his own I say.

By the way, I also agree that you could easily use a cnc mill to cut V-bottom points if you used a 90 degree cutter. Most cuemakers use a simple set-up on a standard (non-cnc) mill to do this, but yes, it could be done.

Tony

Fred Agnir
04-27-2003, 12:30 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Popcorn:</font><hr> I know what cnc is, <hr /></blockquote>If you go back to my original comment, you'll notice that all I did was point out to those that might be confused that pantograph and CNC are not the same thing. I'm not debating which style of point is better. Never will.

Fred &lt;~~~ whoosh