20 Questions with Tony Sauer
May / 2015
Tony Sauer is a cuemaker from Louisville, Kentucky. He is 37 years old and has been playing pool ever since he could look over the edge of a table. He had a little seven foot Steeplton table in the basement when he was growing up. The first cue he owned was a Legacy with red veneers (or stickers) which he got as a Christmas present from his older brother. He graduated from St. Xavier High School, and studied X-ray technology at Spencerian Medical College. He now works for Humana. In his spare time; recreation includes golfing, fishing, and shooting guns. If He’s not working or playing pool, He’s probably playing golf.”
1: How did you get your start in making cues?
Well, my brother would come home (he got his start in it before I did) and he’d show me a cue. The first one I ever remembered was a Coker. He said “look at this Coker”, and at the time I didn’t know what the hell it was and I thought “oh that’s nice” I had no interest in it until he said, “That’s a $1500.00 cue.” I said “What!”, and I looked at it. I was already playing, but this is when I started looking at cues. I saw my buddy doing repairs up there at Rack 66; I was like; “oh okay, that’s how that’s made, and that’s how that’s made”. I just kind of got into it serious and said, “I bet you I can do that.” Everybody told me that I couldn’t do it, so me with my stubborn attitude, I thought, “Well, I’ll show you”.
2: Where do you get ideas for design and patterns?
You know, just about everywhere. I get on AZ Billiards and look at the Cue and Case Gallery. Some of the cues people are making are just mind blowing. I myself am more into just a traditional style. I’d have to say the best looking cues I have ever seen are Szamboti’s. The old plain Gus’s.
3: Who makes the best cues other than yourself?
I would have to say that my favorite (who is no longer making them) is Joss West. Bill’s cues are just absolutely amazing. My favorite is the Birdseye forearm; Birdseye sleeve with a Delrin butt cap and a Cortland linen wrap. Just plain. A nice plain blond cue. I made one for myself. I bought some of McDaniel’s wood when he retired. I got about five or six forearms and made a Joss West replica / tribute. I sold it, and it made me sick. I ended up trading three cues to get it back. I think that Richard Phillippi is very good and so under rated. I hope that he gets the recognition he deserves. And you know, He’s not outlandish on his prices.
4: How often do you play pool and how’s your game?
I used to play about four nights a week before I started making cues. Now, with my job at Humana, I play two days a week. I’m in the process of getting my own table set up. Around here we have the APA, and a couple of years ago a good buddy of mine started the LAP, which is the Louisville Amateur Pool League. In the APA (I’m sure a lot more people are familiar with that) I’m an eight in nine ball and a six in eight ball.
5: What brand of case do you carry and what’s in it?
I have an old Instroke 2 x 4. It’s a hand tooled leather that’s really, really nice. I know there’s a lot of custom case makers out there making beautiful stuff. Mine is just an old (about a seven hundred dollar) Instroke made before they started making them over in China. I traded a friend an old Smith & Wesson Revolver for it. I got an ultimate tip tool, some quarters and chalk in it. As far as chalk goes; I was always under the impression that chalk is chalk, you know. Master chalk is great. Kamui is fine. People like to complain that it’s too expensive, but if you take care of it; I’ve had a piece that’s lasted me two years now, and I shoot sometimes four nights a week. But Predator chalk (and I hate all things Predator) their chalk is pretty damn good. I like it. It’s like the perfect in between Masters and Kamui chalk.
6: What is your favorite type of joint pin and materials?
You know I like the 3/8 – 10. The majority of all my cues are 3/8 – 10. I guess because one of my first cues was an old McDermott. I guess that helped me fall in love with the big old flat faced joint and pin. I love the looks of the 3/8 – 11 or the modified South West style pin. I just like the big pins. I think they feel the best. As far as material I love an ivory joint. I just don’t think you can beat ivory. I love it. I love the way it feels, especially on a bumperless cue. It’s just that crisp instant feedback. I like anything flat faced. Phenolic is fine. I really like Juma. It’s not too soft, not too hard. It gives you a nice good response. That’s what I use on a lot of my cues. On break cues I use nothing but Phenolic, but the majority of my playing cues I use Juma.
7: Are there any pro players you admire?
You know, I don’t really look up to any of them. If I would have to say anyone its Earl Strickland; just because of the way he acts. Everyone says he’s a nut. He’s fun to watch and he is a hell of a player. He gets madder at himself than anybody else and I’m the exact same way. Ya know, I have torture tested a couple of cues in the midst of a match before. I’ve seen how good my construction techniques are on a time or two.
8: What types of wood do you like to use?
Depends on what I’m making. For break cues I stick with Cocobolo, Purple Heart, Ebony and Bocote. I hate coring wood. If I have an Ebony nose cue I want it to feel like an Ebony nose cue. For playing cues; (I Think it’s ugly as sin), I hate it and don’t use it too often, but Purple Heart, I think, is one of the best hitting cues.
9: What are your favorite vacation destinations?
My family used to go to Florida every year, probably since I was three up until I was about twenty two. If I never go back to Florida it won’t hurt my feelings at all. I’d love to go somewhere that not everybody goes. I would love to go to Maine, and visit some little bitty quaint town that’s not really a tourist destination. Just go somewhere that’s nice. I’d like to see Hawaii and Alaska at some point in my life.
10: What is your opinion on composite shafts?
I can’t stand them. I think they’re a huge gimmick. I know they work. I’ve seen the tests. Most of the people that are buying them are league players, and they’re playing on seven foot tables. How much squirt is affecting your shot on a seven foot table? I just like playing with old cues. I grew up playing with deflection and that’s just how I shoot. I account for it when I go to aim. I tried using composite shafts and they just feel hollow; which ninety five percent of them are. I hate them.
11: What is your favorite wrap?
If I had enough of it, and it wasn’t so expensive, I’d put Cortland on everything. I’ve got Cortland on my cue, and I don’t care where you get linen now a days nothing feels like Cortland. My second favorite would be cork. I absolutely love the feel of two to three year old cork, just worn out. My absolute favorite is Cortland.
12: Do you do a lot of repairs?
I build mainly, but being in the leagues everybody’s always coming up to me and looking to get a cracked butt cap fixed or asking me to fix this or that, you know. I usually help my friends out. I send a lot of people to my buddy up there at Rack 66. I’d rather build them.
13: Any tips that you prefer over others?
I would have to say, in my opinion, Ultra Skins; for the money, they’re absolutely the best. I’ve only tried a Kamui once, and hated it. Maybe it was just a bad one I got a hold of. I know people love them. I have tried a bunch of tips; but for the way they go on, cut, and feel, I have to say Ultra Skins are my personal favorite.
14: What games do you like to play?
Bank pool is my absolute favorite. I think it’s just the purist game. There’s no slopping a ball in that. Like in nine ball, you hit a ball hard, hit five rails and another ball and it’s in. Bank pool is my favorite. I hate nine ball, but I play it cause I’m a glutton for punishment.
15: What is your games weak point?
Cutting; that’s why I like bank pool so much. I just can’t cut a damn ball. I wind up hitting everything short. I’m going to correct that when I get my table set up. I would say that, and my temper.
16: Any movies that you like?
Well I play pool so “The Hustler”. For some reason; I don’t know why, if I’m flipping through the channels you know if “Sister Act 2” is on I have to watch it. I have no idea why. I mean, I don’t even really like the movie that much. But, you know it don’t matter, wherever it’s at in the movie, I stop and watch it. I got no idea why, but I do.
17: What size table do you prefer?
Well a lot of our leagues are played on seven footers. I got really lucky living in Louisville. Diamond Billiards is right across the bridge in Jefferson, Indiana, so pretty much every bar around here has Diamond tables. If it’s got a valley table, it’s just a dive and you shouldn’t be in there anyway. I always play bank on nine footers. That’s where the pro’s play.
18: Do you Take orders for cues and do you have any ready for sale?
I do take orders. I try to limit those. I do it just because I love to do it. I try to take no more than 8 or 10 at any time, because I do like to build cues of my own design that I like. When you take orders you’ve got to keep everything to their specs, which is understandable, but can be a pain at times. I don’t really have any cues lying around. I build them and sell them. I guess I’m kinda lucky. I’ll build one and put it up on EBay or Facebook and it goes pretty quick.
19: Where are you sending most of your cues when they are sold?
Yah know, most of them are here in Louisville. It’s pretty big in pool around here. I send a lot of them to Texas too. I had one guy by one, and everybody on his team loved it and they ordered a couple. Word kinda got around down there, and so I’m shipping a lot of them to Texas. I’m also sending quite a bit to South Dakota. I don’t know how the hell they got up there but they did.
20: What is your favorite food or dish?
Hell, I’m fat. I like everything. Sushi, I love some sushi. I guess I’m like every other American, I like pizzas. They’re in the top five for sure.
Here are some more pictures of Tony's great custom cues and few of his shop.
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We hope you enjoyed the interview and the photos.
Interview by Scot J. Lynne / All Rights Reserved