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1992 Catalogue
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2007--The Year of the Boar
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From the Buzz

"This article started out as an in-depth interview with Craig Smith and in the process became parallel interviews with Tony and Craig. On the website Iíve publicly explored Tony's character. I've exposed his quirks, his drives, his passions and his motivations. I've tried to express to the world "why" he does what he does. But, I've never really interviewed Tony. I spoke from my first hand knowledge of what he's all about. It allowed me to speak about Tony in a way that his humility would never let him speak about himself. In the shuffle, I've left some of his direct thoughts unaddressed.

I've written Craig's direct thoughts on the website and but never really taken the liberty of speaking about him in the third person. So, now let's talk about Craig. Craig is scared that if he doesn't do something to capture the knowledge that Tony has it will die with him. He feels like Tony had worked too hard to gather the information to ultimately go un-recognized in the grander scheme of the history of cues and the game. It is obvious to him, as it is to me, that if the world captures even a bit of Tony's concepts the value of the Black Boar cues will skyrocket. Not having time in his life, Craig started the ball rolling and our arrangement came to be. With time on my hands and in agreement with his objective, I became the "voice" of blackboarcustomcues.com and at his insistences the documenting began.

Carrie Ann:
You and I have been through your first Black Boar experience before, the stories are online, but is there anything else you want to tell the world about your first shop experience or your first introduction to Tony?
Craig:
At first my instincts just told me it was a great cue.

Carrie Ann:
Do you remember meeting Craig Smith for the first time?
Tony:
He was just another potential cue buyer, at first. But, as I recall Craig did one thing different. Most of the time a guy comes in looks at what is lying around, sizes you up and begins a pissing match about the price. Craig asked me, "What's the most expensive cue you've ever made?" He added 50% and said "Make me one for $xxxx.xx." I'd seen his game, and he couldn't make more than three balls. But, that was a challenge. Making him a cue he could both play with and appeased his senses was new. Previously, I'd been making cues for Lucky, who pushed the artistic envelope, but Craig opened the door for excellence in both art and playability.

Carrie Ann:
And then? Why did you buy more than one?
Craig:
It was like opening Pandoraís Box. I loved the flexibility that Tony offered. Iíd always wanted to know what might happen if you changed just joint, or just a ferrule, or whatever. I had a burning desire to know the effect of any single component. The more I asked and the more Tony answered, the more I wanted to know.

Carrie Ann:
Why did you make him more than one?
Tony:
He was becoming the proverbial pain in the ass, but he didnít stop learning. Craig and I spent many, many hours in one-on-one clinics. He forced me to address issues. In fact, if nothing else, Craig served as the perfect exercise in diagnosing the ultimate dilemma. I mean, when do you have a cue problem and when do you have a people problem? His unrelenting pursuit to understand the effect of changing each component was a catalyst for change. I had left theories unexamined on account of complacency. He was a pain in the ass, but most of the time he made good sense. Craig was astute in his observations and had the aptitude to absorb the physics.

Carrie Ann:
Tony tells me that you have a natural affinity for masse shots. Did that trigger your interest in the technical aspects of cues?
Craig:
I think it was the other way around. Tony offered me a chance to test the cues boundaries. I wanted to know what sacrifices had to be made for performance. In theory, you could engineer a cue for each individual type of shot, a masse, a jump, a break, a draw, etc.

Carrie Ann:
Craig has an affinity for masse shots?
Tony:
Yes, actually, he does. The funny thing is when we he first came through the door he couldnít make more than three balls in a row. The more he learned, the more his game developed. It used to be I could match up with him with relative ease, but anymore he just pounds me into the slate. Jeesh! I created a monster and now he rules me, what fun is this?

Carrie Ann:
Tony wanted me to ask you what your motivation for the website was.
Craig:
About a year before starting the site in the middle of a session with Tony the bells finally went off. I finally saw the formula and it all made sense. All the Black Boar-ismsóit was an earth shattering revelation really. Finally, someone was presenting a scientific formula I could lock on to. It was like finally understanding how the universe works, the pool universe. It was everything, the interaction between stroke and player, and cue and ball, and how they interrelate. At that moment, I thought it was my legacy to leave. I wanted to be the catalyst of change in the industry. I believe that in time, fast forward a hundred years, Tony will one day be looked at as "the grandfather of cue makers." Nobody prior has ever put the whole puzzle together. I want to use Tonyís theories to open the eyes of industry. If I die knowing I accomplished that one thing I will be content. Once I had the revelation, each Black Boar cue looked like a treasure. So I bought everyone I could find.
Carrie Ann:
You certainly did.

Carrie Ann:
What do you think Craigís motivation for the website was?
Tony:
He wants me to immediately release the technically nitty-gritty information, which doesnít make me happy. I wanted to reserve that information for more in-depth mediums. A book, so I can re-explore each topic at length. He thinks that if I do it now, at least Iíll get to enjoy some of the hoopla before I die.
Carrie Ann:
If you are against it, why are you placating him?
Tony:
Some of his ideas make sense. Besides, the website has taken on a life of its own and will go on with or with out me. So, despite the burden of exposing my every utterance to the world I am left with no other choice. I figure it far better to contribute and present technically correct information than to leave to the masses to perpetuate misinformation. Besides, I have no retirement plan. When I see write ups on 'bushkas and 'botis, I cannot believe the volume of misinformation out there. Some guy who didnít know me from Adam actually told me a cue maker used an entire elephant tusk to build a cue. What? Who are you kidding?

Carrie Ann:
Are you surprised by the response to the website?
Craig:
Surprised at its success? No. Surprised that the response isnít bigger? A little. That just tells me that lots of people donít get it yet. But they will. Itís hard to capture the breadth of what Tony is all about in the snapshots weíve given them. Personally, I was skeptic to begin with, too. Most of what Tony told me I made him prove. I was argumentative and confrontational. He had to bring me along to understanding.

Carrie Ann:
Are you surprised by the response to the website?
Tony:
I am overwhelmed by the website. You know, the number of hits, the number of pages readÖ everyday shocks me.

Carrie Ann:
What direction would you like to the website take?
Craig:
What I want and what makes sense for Tony isnít necessarily the same thing. Ultimately, I want the world to see the complete picture and Iíd like to expose as many cultures as possible. How the information gets out Iím primarily going to leave in your hands. Tony doesnít want to hurt any feelings or injure anyoneís pride. His humble nature wonít allow him to boast. But, I believe the truth is the truth and it needs to be shouted from the mountain tops.

Carrie Ann:
What direction would you like the website to take?
Tony:
I love to see the map with hits all over the world, but Iím not sure I understand the fascination. Personally, Iíd love to see that laptop blow up in a zillion itsy-bitsy pieces. Seeing my ass plastered all over the world is painful. Ultimately weíd all like it to be a self-sustaining entity and a platform for other ventures.

Carrie Ann:
Do you have an ulterior motive?
Craig:
I want Tony to release his theories on physics and cue engineering. I see the cues as an investment and I believe their value will grow exponentially in direct parallel with the exposed information. And, of course, if he had the time to make some really super, super fancy cues, that would be nice, too.

Carrie Ann:
What do you think Craigís ulterior motive is?
Tony:
Greed, maybe? See, the problem is the collectors are buying cues, but not selling them. If no profit is ever realized by anybody, by me or by them, there is no kick-back for Black Boar.

Carrie Ann:
Care to wager a guess at the how the prices of Black Boar cues will change?
Craig:
Already I donít know of any other cue that is worth more as soon as you buy it. I think prices will continue to grow relatively with the release of information. When Tony dies or stops making cues the prices will escalate dramatically. It is a pity, but unfortunately, like the work of any great artist, the cues are not likely to really realize their full value until after he dies.

Carrie Ann:
Care to wager a guess at how the prices of Black Boar will change?
Tony:
I donít think prices need to change because Iím not making any cues. With all of the website emphasis, Iíll be lucky if I make 3 cues this year. But at the same time, I have become so frustrated that while I used to be embarrassed to ask $6k or $8k for a cue, Iím so angry I could put six digits on a cue. I wonít chase money, but Iíll chase passion until death. You can be sure whatever cues I make before now and the end of life will be the best that Iím capable of.

Carrie Ann:
Okay, Craig, last but not least, are you this obsessive compulsive about everything?
[pause]
Craig:
Yeah, I guess so, ever since I was a kid. I bought a go-cart and it needed an engine. I bought an engine and then it needed a new frame. I ripped it apart and built it again. Then I had to get into racing. Yeah, I guess I take everything to an extreme. Like a sponge, I like to squeeze out every drop. I got into fishing and wasnít done until Iíd learned to repair rods and fix flys. In my business, Iíve pursued the idea of manufacturing my own building materials. The intensity in which Iíve driven this Black Boar project is not unique to just this venture.

Carrie Ann:
Okay, Tony, last but, not least, are you this obsessive compulsive about everything?
Tony:
Iím in love with wowing the customer. There are two ways in which a guy can leave you. He either walks out the door feeling the cueís imperfections, pensive and wary, or he bounces out of the room confident and proud and canít wait to get to the pool room to show somebody. My passion is to make the people happy. You absolutely wonít get hurt at Black Boar.
Carrie Ann:
So thatís a "yes"???
Tony:
Yes, I guess so.

Tony and Craig share a relationship much deeper than client/contractor. Tony feels that the people who have devoted their allegiance to Black Boar along the way are the real prize. He says,"Öwithout the cool people it is just me and sawdust." Without Craig's questions there would have been no reason to come up with answers. In his agitation-- he has been a catalyst, from forcing technical issues to an extreme and insisting on revealing information, to driving open the channel of communication with the world."

Without Craig's insistences the website and any projects that ultimately stem from it could never have been. I would never have had the strength to convince Tony the importance of letting go of the information. Craig has made extracting information from Tony my life's mission. Craig and I share good intentions and pure motivation. We believe Tony knows and has proven many things unprecedented, and that it would be a tragedy to the industry not to make him document it. Time will tell if we're wrong, but clearly we are willing to find out."


Anybody who has ever visited Tony's studio knows that he spends most of his free time analyzing, conducting experiments and pushing the envelope of cue development. His research is extensive and thorough, taking no component of the cue for granted.

Tony's twenty years dedicated to the accumulation of knowledge have yielded a wealth of insight and technical information that just about anyone in the cue industry should find very valuable. Whether you are a cue maker, dealer, cue collector or a serious player about to spring for a new cue Tony's insight will arm you with the information you should know.

characteristics of ivory. One of the most exciting studies, that no player should compete without, specifically addresses ball deflection, the stroke and everything you don't know about eye dominance. These are merely examples, the list is exhaustive.

These articles will initially be published in English and Japanese, however if interest warrants it, additional languages wil

We are in the process of refining and streamlining our avenues of communication. We will ultimately release a series of highly technical articles will address a variety of commonly held industry misconceptions and some truthful, highly technical and specific answers to some frequently asked industry questions.

Each article,complete with graphics, photos, sources, detailed explanation and experiments revealed, will deal with a specific element of a cue, a particular function, or a great piece of physics. You can expect sufficient information to help you understand how a cue works, what constitutes a good cue, how to protect your investment and how to improve the performance of your cue. For example, an amateur cue repair technician can wreck the value of a great cue in short order. Learn how to protect your investment. What can you trust someone to do to your cue? What should you never trust someone to do? When do you have a cue problem and when do you have a people problem?

Other topics will include details on the optimum finish for a pool cue, including color enhancement, the mechanical and chemical bonds of finishes on wood and stress related l be considered.



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