Is A CNC Built Cue A True Handcrafted Cue?
Before I get into the specifics of CNC and my diatribe, I'd like you to ponder this very profound statement...
"Where the spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art".
Profound, won't you agree! I'll tell you the author's name after reading this page.
This is a controversial subject. Of course the CNC cue makers will say yes and others may say no. Here's our opinion...
A cue made with a CNC machine is in our opinion, NOT a handcrafted cue. How can it be when all you do is lay the cue into the CNC machine and flip a switch, go have a cup of coffee, come back and it's done. Creating cues in that manner is not cutting or laying in inlays by hand or otherwise known as handcrafted. These machines cut the slots in the cue and also cut the various materials used for inlaying. We cut our own slots with a machine but use our hands and cut the inlays the very same way; then custom sand each inlay and pocket for a perfect fit. By Hand!
I want to state that when I say all you do is lay the cue into the CNC machine and flip a switch, go have a cup of coffee, come back and it's done -- well, that's the truth. Any intelligent person knows that along with just 'laying in the cue', the operator had to engage in meaningful thought and endure a learning process. Of course, common sense would dictate that the CNC has to be learned. However, once you learn and program the machine, it's just that... a machine. You write programs and recall them when you need to do a certain task. Once the learning curve is over, all the cue maker needs to do is turn the machine on, put the wood in and tell the computer to go. Then, go have a cup of coffee, come back in 5 to 20 minutes and the cuts are done. Yes, it is that simple. Some cue makers would have you believe that it requires a degree in Rocket Science. This is not true. Anyone can run a CNC who has patience and a half a brain.
Additionally, we do have our own CNC as of November 2002. It took us all of one hour to make our first cuts and one week to program and begin using the programs. We have invested well over $15k and quite frankly.... we would rather use the manual pantograph as that is an art. CNC is just too automated for us. The machine sits as the world's most expensive paper weight.
Yes, we can make all the mild to wild designs with our CNC but then our sticks would be computer generated clones of each other lacking their own individuality not to mention the hands on touch.There is nothing handcrafted when you can put one stick in a machine, flip a few switches, turn out a cue and do it all over again exactly the same as the previous one. Is this a custom cue when the cue maker dictates what designs he places into his cues? These are fancy production clones and nothing more. The only difference between Meucci, Viking, Helmstetter, etc. and a CNC cue maker is that Meucci, Viking, Helmstetter, etc. are large cue manufacturers and the CNC cue maker is doing business in a small way and under his own personal name. So, if Harry Schwartz buys a CNC machine and has enough dollars for advertising, he too can become a production cue outfit. But since he doesn't, he becomes Harry Schwart's Custom Cues. There is nothing custom or handcrafted about CNC. And, that's our opinion.
Today, technology has placed CNC machines in the reach of the average cue maker to produce CNC production cues at true handcrafted prices without all the labor. This technology was only available to the large cue manufacturers until recent times. Now anyone can buy a CNC machine, build a stick and put their personal name on it and they have a custom cue. The true art of hand cutting and inlaying is quickly becomming a lost art but at Barringer Custom Handcrafted Cues, we still and will always cut and inlay by hand with precise craftsmanship.
Then there are those who say that we're working with a lathe or other machines and that's not handcrafted. Let's be realistic here. In any industry we rely upon machines. When we work on our lathes, we still have to place the cue precisely in line, centering it, dialing in numbers, setting the cutting depth, watching the cut, stopping the machine and restarting it. Bottomline, we use our hands and never walk away from any machine -- we always have our hands on every proceedure when building our precision cues by hand.
So, In Conclusion...
When we decide to go into full production and make use of the CNC for mass producing, we will then create intricate filigree designs just like other cue builders. However, when we market these creations they will be sold as Custom Production Cues and pricing will be substantially less than our Custom Handcrafted Cues. We believe that title and lower pricing is appropriate since they take less time to produce and we can manufacture them in quantity. Until then, we'll continue to use our pantograph and build them one at a time.
"Where the spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art". -- Leonardo da Vinci
Now, what do you think of CNC?