Karl Craik Customs
All of my cues are made completely from scratch by myself in my home-based workshop in Northumberland, England. I started building cues as a hobby in 2012. Since then I have continually chased methods of process and product improvement in order to deliver the best value cue for the money possible.
In this section I'm not going to cover all aspects of cue making but instead I'll focus on the design aspects that I believe make my cues stand out from the crowd.
This is by far and away the single most important aspect of any pool or snooker cue.
There are far too many "cuemakers" out there today who are simply buying pre-machine turned shafts from the far east suppliers as its much easier and cheaper than trying to make your own. This helps keep their profit margins up but severely effects the quality of the end product in my opinion.
The first issue is that the factory produced shafts are made far too quickly and the wood isn't given the time it needs to rest and allow the internal stresses to even out. The result is often that the cue will refuse to stay straight over time.
The second issue is that these factory shafts are all made far too thin in my opinion. They aren't made with a thick enough shoulder to deliver the power required especially on a snooker cue. The shoulder on a cue is the area around the tips of the main splices which is usually around 17" - 20" from the butt end of the cue.
The Karl Craik Customs Difference - I make all my shafts myself from scratch. I personally select and buy in the planks of Ash and Maple and gradually over the course of 6 months take them down from squares, to octagons, to oversized rounds then finally down to the cues' final taper. By doing this slowly over 6 months I'm able to allow the stresses in the wood to even out and I can cut out any of the bends in the cue before it gets down to the final size. This produces a much more stable shaft. Also by controlling the taper of the shafts from start to finish I can ensure that each cue has a strong enough shoulder to deliver the power on the shot through the shaft.
For a really good insight I recommend you checking out my video on shafts here
3/4 Stealth Joints
You will most likely be familiar with the standard style of joint where there is a male and female side which both have a large flat area (the flange) of brass. This has been the norm for a very long time in UK pool and snooker cues. There have of course been several other design ideas such as wooden threads and brass rings. Now while the hidden joint isn't exclusive to Karl Craik Customs it is the method I use on ALL of my 3/4 jointed cues. I've noticed that over time brass will tarnish and pick up a lot of dirt and can cause a poor hit on the cue ball. You can often hear a 'ting' sound on a jointed cue. This is because the 2 flange surfaces have become dirty and uneven and this means that the joint isn't getting as secure of a mating connection that it needs.
Another issue, particularly in factory made cues is that the joints are simply a push and glue fit. Why is this a problem? Well over time all cues are subject to environmental changes such as temperature, pressure and moisture. With that in mind you have to consider the different rates of expansion between the different woods and metals used. Essentially, the wood and brass will expand and contract at different rates over time which can lead to the cracking of the glue that holds them in place. This is when you see joints just spinning in the cue as the glue has failed.
The Karl Craik Customs Difference - by installing all my joints in the 'Stealth' or hidden manner it allows a more consistent and reliable connection. This method has been used in my cues now for 10 years and has proven itself time and time again. It takes more effort to produce a Stealth joint well but its worth it in the long run for a superior product.
All my joints are also threaded into the cue as well as being secured in place by industry leading epoxy resin. What this means is that despite long term temperature and moisture changes, the joint shouldn't ever come loose under normal conditions. The only way a threaded joint will ever come loose is if you have applied so much torsion to the joint that you have physically stripped the threads and broken the wood internally. I don't recommend doing this!
Full covering butt joints
Every cue that I have ever made has had a full brass butt cap joint and it was something that I was adamant on from the very beginning. You may see it in a lot of older cues that the very end of the butt has been either badly damaged and has chunks missing or it has been worn down on one side as its been banged off or dragged along the floor over the years. The very core ethos of my cues is that I build them to last for a lifetime while maintaining the 'fresh out of the factory' condition for as long as possible.
The Karl Craik Customs Difference - by covering the whole of the butt of the cue in a brass flange it gives my cues far more durability than the typical open ended wood grain finish that you see on a lot of cues, particularly those using SD style joints. My full covering butt joints are also fully threaded and glued in place in the same process that my 3/4 joints are. I also get a lot of fantastic feedback around the aesthetic look that it gives.
First developed in 2020 with a good friend and Master Carpenter, the resin splices came off the back of his work in making resin river tables with live edge wood. He asked me to make a cue for him and wondered if it would be possible to incorporate some resin work into it...
From there the popularity of the resin splice work has soared and the complexity and design choices have expanded. Although I wasn't the first to try using resin on cues I'm confident in saying that I have developed my own unique style and its not available anywhere else. It's a style that I believe will stand the test of time and not fade into the category of a gimmick.
Below are some process images along with the final results on cues and I hope you agree that they bring a new dimension to cue designs.