The Club Classic is now available from the above approved stockists. This is the best way to view them as it gives you the opportunity to try before you buy. Get yourself down to these great venues and support your local clubs.
If you are a club owner and wish to enquire about stocking these fantastic value handmade cues then please get in touch with Karl Craik Customs via our e-mail here
The Club Classic Cue project has been driven by 3 major factors: Affordability, Sustainability & Community.
My challenge was to see how well I could engineer the cost out of a handmade cue whilst still making a product that a player of any budget would be proud to own.
I was actually inspired by an old movie called "The First $20 Million Is Always the Hardest". In this movie the team is challenged to make a computer for only $99 which is seen by others as impossible. The way they achieve it is by stripping down what is essential and what is just a 'nice to have'. I have taken the same approach here while all the time making sure that the final product can still be called a cue and not just a stick with a tip on the end.
Hand splicing a cue in the traditional method takes time, practice and a lot of patience to achieve 4 even and balanced splices. This was obviously not an option for this project. My initial concept was to go with a single front splice and jazz it up with some colourful veneer. This looked 'OK...' but ultimately just looked like the formula that every other cue maker uses for their 'Break Cues'. I wanted something more! Something that really looked and played like a fully fledged handmade cue. After some thought and research I decided to go with a full ebony wood butt. As you all know, this timber is very expensive but there just no substitute for the weight and feel that it gives to a cue. That's why 99.9% of all hand made cues use ebony. Now If I'm using ebony then I needed to figure out a way to get it onto the cue in as cost effective manor as possible....
This led me into building several jigs so that I could repeatedly and accurately cut both the ebony and shaft for a tight and strong joint. The result is what is known as a "Butterfly" splice. This creates a V in each piece of timber that gives a large surface area for the adhesive to bond too. Below are the 1st test pieces that I ran to see if my jigs had been build accurately enough and I was delighted to find out that I had got them right on the first try!
After the initial test runs I was then confident to try it out on the expensive ebony and see if I could get a finished product that truly resembled a popper cue. Below you can see the results. The first picture shows how the rounded shafts fit into the still square blocks of ebony. The second picture shows the completed splice once the Ebony has been turned from square to round.
So now we have a perfectly good looking cue but I wanted to add as much value as I could into each cue so I decided to add a single front splice with a thick veneer to give the finished cue its look. This also reflects my Custom Cue range as the 'Classic' model has the same single front splice. This tied the name to the cue and the 'Club Classic' was born...
All of my cues are 100% made by myself in my home workshop. A big part of this and something that I'm very proud of is that I make all of my shafts from scratch. No pre-made blanks bought in here!
As a result its not always easy to see which of the cues will have those perfect chevrons and which ones won't in the early stages. As I work through the timber it starts to show me that some of the shafts aren't as 'pretty' as others. Sadly those less desirable looking shafts used to end up as nothing more then scrap. As part of the Club Classic project I decided to give these less loved shafts another chance at life. These shafts will all still play beautifully as they have all had the same TLC and slow working time as all of my cues have. The only difference is that they're not aesthetically desirable (to some, might I add. I personally prefer and play with a shaft that has more character to it. It is supposed to be a unique cue after all).
The same goes for the Ebony used on the Club Classic. High end cue customers always demand the blackest of the black Ebony known as AAA grade. When I'm buying Ebony its an accepted part of the industry that I have to take a certain quantity of lower grade blanks such as A and B grades within my order. These blanks cost the same but aren't pure jet black and can have brown or grey markings in them. They are still high quality and dense wood and perfect for cues but just have a bit more character to them. Below you can see me inspecting a large order of Ebony and you can see that there is variations in colour and consistency.
By using these purely aesthetically less desirable materials I am able to get much better wood usage and reduce my waste. If I wasn't using this timber to make Club Classics then the stock would either end up on the BBQ or be sold on for a loss and the Club Classic wouldn't be available to the community as a budget friendly cue.
New players looking to buy their first real cue can feel intimidated or priced out of the market and that's something that I'm hopefully addressing with the Club Classic as an entry price level for a True Handmade in the UK cue. The Club Classic is a cue that everyone can be proud to own. They are all individually built as the materials become available and so all have a unique character.
Without our wonderful clubs we'd have no where to play other than those who are lucky enough to have their own tables at home. As a way of encouraging new players into clubs the Club Classic cues are only available from the approved clubs at the top of this page. If you're interested in a Club Classic then why not get yourself down to one of the clubs where you can try before you buy. That's the best way to see how good they feel and how well they play. While you're there why not support the club by having a drink or two and a few hours on the table as they would really appreciate the support and business too.