“Trudy the Beauty”
Billy Joel, Mac Truck, General Electric, Bethlehem Steel, “Trudy”, Kahn Custom Cues and owner Joe Kancsal, all have one thing in common, Allentown, PA. While some businesses are floundering, Kahn Custom cues has only just begun to flourish.
Though only in it’s infancy, surely it will grow quickly. When not working in sales, hand building custom cues engulfs most of Joe Kancsal’s time. During his high school years, [he]unfortunately had the time of [his] life.” He was a “hell raiser” but eventually had to enter the “real world.”
After high school he moved to his uncle’s house in Canada where he learned the trade of framing houses, a skill set which carried him through college. He was an English major, however not working in the field because life called him in different directions. His custom cue business began innocently enough with no hard or soft plans to start a small business.
Joe began replacing his own tips after tiring from having to hunt down and then wait for the repair person to get the job done. He then started replacing tips of teammates then players from the larger public player population. As he attracted more and more customers, purchase of a repair lathe became necessary. His next move was ferrule repair, butt cap repair, and Irish linen wraps. All of this was attainable with a few strokes of good luck in racking up customers, Joe’s mindset & confidence that “If someone could do something, so could I”, and so became the birth of “Kahn Custom Cues”.
Employment in sales has been a constant in Joe’s life continuing with his current position of sales manager . Today, gainfully employed, married and father of two, Joe has no time for hobbies, however he does shoot pool and has been doing that for over 30 years, so he does know the game, and this helps in the cue build. After putting in his 40 hours at work, he spends his time searching for exotic wood and giving great thought toward the creative process of his hand built custom cues.
When a customer and Joe discuss making a cue, Joe will set a time so they can physically meet to discuss the details of the cue. He wants to meet the buyer in person and ask questions on all aspects of the upcoming piece of art. He derives a good feel for the customer’s needs & personality. All of this attention to detail helps him in making a perfect fit between cue & customer.
One most important step, of course, is “the choosing of the wood or woods” to be used, adornments such as inlays, rings, type of wrap, if any – linen, snake skin, or something else, and color(s) of wrap, if any, as well as other necessary details that might present themselves. Joe is willing to go above and beyond the beautiful and well thought out detail and workmanship that is standard in his cue making, but the customer will be charged for the “extras”.
For instance, ivory ferrules and butt rings are possible, butt only because of existing reserves that have been in this country for many, many years. No animals are being hurt nor are any of their body parts currently being harvested nor is any plan in place to do so. Should current reserves dwindle to the point of unavailability, ivory will not be an option. Trust that the ivory work will be costly above and beyond any plastic composite presently available.
Another example of an extra cost would be if somebody wants a 9mm shaft – one thing Joe Just does not want to put into one of his cues. Why? Because it’s only going to snap one day, and that just will not work! Joe wants the cue, as originally hand built, to be buried with the owner. Then there’s the wood. The wood, oh, the exotic wood. This is Joe’s area, his baby, well, besides “Trudy”. He loves exotic wood and knows where to find the best quality at the best price. He knows people. Exotic wood that he has used includes Curly Redwood, Curly Maple, Cocobolo, Buckeye Burl, Afezlia Burl, Sindora Burl, Brazilian Klingwood, and Olivewood from Bethlehem, not the next door city Bethlehem, PA, but the countries over – the other side of the world, Bethlehem, Jerusalem! Yes, thee Bethlehem, and boy oh boy is it gorgeous as are all others that Joe uses.
Many of the exotic woods, along with some finished or nearly finished pieces, can be viewed on Kahn Custom Cues Facebook Page. While there, make the time to check out Joe’s own cue, “Trudy”. She’s a beaut if ever I did see one! Her butt sleeve & forearm are of figured Camelia Rosewood, aka Brazilian Klingwood while her handle is of Curly Maple and chain rings with brass. Joe says “She is a low maintenance kind of gal.” I say ”You may want to stare.”
The beautiful work of any of Joe’s Kahn’s Custom Cues is never of the assembly line or processed type, if you will. When he takes into his hands and feels the chosen piece of wood, admires its beauty with his eyes, and smells the aroma, he will say, “The cue is there. Just remove the wood and add some ‘stuff.’” His talent lends itself greatly to what will be the build and look of the finished product. Is a cue ever really “finished”? If one plays with it for years & years, then stops playing pool, what then? Does it live on? Yes, methinks, not only in the mind’s eye of every person lucky enough to have experienced it in some way, but also in the grave, Joe’s hope.
I can only imagine the excitement and great care with which Joe approaches each and every bit of artistry of his hand built custom cues. That is EXACTLY what sets him apart from others. Well that and a few other differences that include: he wants folks to “have their cues for life” – and so they live on, he is unique and does not make every day run of the mill cues. They will not be found fresh off the conveyer built having been “made” in one or two days. Likely, one must wait at least 60 – 90 days to hold onto, feel his/her beauty.
One customer said it is his “variations on uniqueness” that makes Joe different. He does it on his terms while making everybody happy. Joe is not part of the herd, not a follower. He refuses to be encumbered by details of the ordinary cues and rules out there. His determination always is to be himself, unique. He will not compromise those details of himself or his custom cue building. He builds one of a kind cues, and that’s that, no ifs, ands or butts. Sure to please each and EVERY customer, each and EVERY time as customer feedback details.
Complete testimonials & name credits can be read on his sites, Kahn Custom Cues Facebook page or web site Kahncustomcues.com. A prelude of those he has received contain several running themes of praise that include, but are not limited to: …”couldn’t be happier”; “price unbeatable”; “craftsmanship is beyond anything I expected”; “the best cue I’ve ever owned”. Obviously, Joe’s non sheepish attitude, high & excellent standards in hand built cue making, brilliant artistry and love of only the best quality, gorgeous exotic woods is working quite well. Such testimonials are not a dime a dozen. How many other cues will stand not only the test of time of Earthly playability, but also make it to the grave with its rightful owner? Now, THAT is a beloved well-built cue of which to be very proud! I suggest that you visit Joe’s sites. You will be completely awed by the exotic wood he so loves. It may just win you over. I bet you may even entertain, if not decidedly act, to have your own art piece custom made by Joe. Just don’t name her “Trudy” because she is taken.
Thank you for your time and a nice interview, Joe. An article is always a bit more meaningful when I actually get to know the subject a little better, which I have here. I have learned a bit on the uniqueness of yourself and your beautiful works of art, especially the exotic woods. Thanks so much for the education!
Sponsored by POV Pool and McDermott Cues
In her 35+ years of pool playing, Missy has been deeply involved with many aspects of the sport. She and her husband ran a BCA 8-Ball League for 15 years, as well as three person 9-Ball, Singles 8 & 9, and Scotch Doubles part of that time. She ran a Junior BCA/BEF Junior League—the largest and longest running in her area—for 13 years, with year end banquets and tournaments for all of the leagues. She has run tournaments for all ages and levels of play groups, and is a Certified BCA Instructor with concentration on children and females.Missy has played at local, regional and national venues. She even has a $6400 fundraiser tournament for Domestic Violence and Wheelchair Players under her belt. Many, many hours have been donated to the sport with 300+ in free lessons and clinics for juniors. She is happy to be writing articles for Sneaky Pete Mafia Magazine, presently. Missy has been, and will continue to be, a true ambassador of the sport.
Photo Credit: Khan Cues
Editor: Shaylyn Troop