Twenty-six years of work within the industry, with twenty-four of them constructing custom cues, Bob Danielson (BDCuesAndComix.com) could never be seen as a new-comer to the world of billiards. Originally from Seattle, where he lived most of his life, before a decade in the Tri-Cities of southeastern Washington, now living on five acres of land into a dead end road by a farm a hundred times that size. I guess one could guess the peace and quiet was something Bob and family wanted.
The veteran cue maker is known for his design for a 6 pie construction applied both in butt and shaft, which brings us to his interview on the SPM magazine’s cue maker’s issue. What Bob says is his particular style of unique construction is
“…there is no A-joint. All my cues are based off the 6-pie construction that is used in my shafts. The cues are simply 6 triangles of one or two species glued back together or used as a core with another species tenoned over the forearm or handle. Others have a 6-pie core of Purpleheart or Bocote with the other woods sleeved over. Most of my cues have little or no metal in them as I prefer to use the G-10 joint pins. Weight can be added by the use of the correct core and weight can be taken out by treatment of the triangles before gluing or if the cue is cored, by the use of a lighter core depending on final weight and wood species being used. I have made a couple of 6-pie Ebony cues that weighed less than 19 oz.”
Asking Bob what had originally enticed him to make cues and of those with some influence he recalled,
“At the time there was really no one else besides Predator making LD (low deflection) shafts for the aftermarket and they were doing quite well. I spent 2 years figuring out how to make my version and getting equipment set up. Roger Petit was a big help in this. Dave Tice and I kicked around ideas about LD and laminates while Ron Kilby did testing on the new shafts. Bill Stroud told me some things about cue making in general that solved some problems and which I still incorporate today in my shaft and cue building. Getting players to try an LD shaft was tough unless they had already played with the Predator. If you couldn’t put a shaft in someone’s hands for them to try, it was hard to make them understand the advantages. Also not having large amounts of money for advertising or to go to the Trade Shows made for very slow going. In about 2001, I got into a partnership with a well-known cue company. It didn’t work out and that venture ended 6 months later. It was during this time that I completed my first 6-pie laminated butts which are still in use today. I had sold a few butt blanks to a couple of cue makers previously, Joe Sanko being the first. Joe was already buying my shaft blanks at that time. His first cue was completed before Predator came out with their laminated break cues. After a 5 year break I went back to making shafts and the laminated butts. Recently I launched the SS360/2 second generation shafts along with more taper options.”
Given the hours of tedious hard work behind the craft of cue making, I asked Bob what particular piece of work he was most proud of to date.
“I built the Checkered Demon cue very early in my cue making and as events turned out it was a good thing I did. There are some minor things I would change on it at this point in time, but overall I am extremely happy with the finished product. The inspiration for the project came from my interest in Underground Comix and pool cues. By a stroke of luck I was introduced to S. Clay Wilson, one of the godfathers of underground comix. He liked my project idea and agreed to draw up a 6-panel scene depicting the Checkered Demon and Ruby the Dyke in a bar with a pool table. The resulting drawing is over the top in pure Wilson style. The cue is a 6-pie Purpleheart core with a forearm of Ebony/Ivory checkerboard and the same for the butt sleeve. Inlaid in this are curly Maple flames hand dyed deep red. The handle is segmented ivory where Howard Thomas of Sailorsdream scrim-shawed the artwork pretty much as closely drawn by Wilson as can be. There are checkerboard trim rings of Ebony/Ivory in all positions. The cue has a custom wood case, Birdseye Maple, also dyed red with an ivory inlay in the top with a scrimshawed drawing of the Checkered Demon holding the shark cue. The original artwork, done to the exact size of the cue, was professionally framed.”
Danielson included a side note to the cue’s story. Sadly,
“…not long after Wilson finished my drawing, he had an accident that left him without memory for a long time. This left him completely without the ability to draw as before. I am not sure if he is drawing anything at this point, but it would never be the same style, ability, or storytelling finesse that he had before the accident.”
Bob’s plans for BD Cues in the immediate future in 2017
“We will be looking to expand sales into the dealer market again, first with shafts and then with a line of basic cues. This assumes the plans for the rest of this year go well. Over the years, getting a good supply of maple boards for shafts has been the major problem, but one that seems to be solved at least for the time being. Exotic woods for cues will continue to see large price increases due to the loss of species to pick from and increased legislation banning sales to foreign countries. Cocobolo has just been added to the list of species you cannot export and it is a very popular wood for cue making.”
I concluded one final question to Bob. Stating the every craftsman wishes to accomplish something after it’s all said and done. What does he hope to achieve with the end result?
“…to have a body of work that I am proud of. To build cues that no one else has and that are known for excellent and consistent playability. As I see it, there is little reason for having beautiful cues that do not play well. Besides that, I want to continue to learn my craft and expand my sales of custom shafts and cues. This last year we got into Seybert’s Billiard Supply with a line of standard shafts and have been trying to catch up on work ever since.”
Bob Danielson wanted to add appreciation to some.
“A big ‘Thanks’ to those that have endured the wait for your shaft or cue as I have been feverishly trying to play catch-up since taking on these extra orders. My hopes are that by the end of this year the kinks will be worked out and delivery times with shorten considerably for shafts. The wait time for cues probably will get longer because of this, but I am trying to work that out also. Being the only employee has its drawbacks when things get busy.”
Author: Keith Diaz
Photo: Provided by author with permission from Bob Danielson
Editor: Shaylyn Troop