Shaftmaster – March 2010 Pool & Billiard Magazine Article
“The completely portable lathe”
A billiard lathe costs thousands of dollars, has the girth of an elephant and is most comfortable in a roomy shop with a concrete floor. So if you need tip-work done you can either wait for the lathe guy to show up at the next billiards show or get some glue, a razor knife and hope for a steady hand.
That’s what Jude Hammond, an ex-Xerox technician turned inventor from Newport Beach California , faced thirteen years ago while attempting to put on a new water-buffalo tip. “The result, even though better than what my buddies could do by hand, looked amateurish and uneven to me,” Jude said. “The majority of cue repair is straightforward (tips, ferrules, shaft cleaning shaft tapering and tenon replacement) so I was surprised there were no inexpensive solutions out there for the billiards enthusiast.”
So Jude visited the big “Xs” salvage yard. No ex-Xerox employees reading this, right? Well, he cobbled together an engine, some aluminum telescoping tubing, a foot pedal, some urethane guides and realized that 10lbs was plenty for a workable and portable lathe.
“I wanted to have something I could throw in the car and take to local tournaments,” he said. “I didn’t know my mini-design where everything fit within the case would be such a hit. My friends jokingly started calling me “The Shaftmaster” and my lathe the “Shaft-O-Matic” after the SNL episode where Dan Aykroyd uses the Bass-O-Matic. The Shaftmaster name stuck so I kept it for my website.”
The invention for personal use had a serendipitous start as a business venture. In 1999, Jude attended a pro tournament at the Crystal Park Casino in Compton , California and one of the show people recalled seeing Jude using his portable lathe. The tournament director overheard the conversation and asked Jude if he had it with him.
“The next thing I knew, I was working the pro tournament doing cue repair and had seven orders to buy lathes,” he said. “I had no price and the prototype was just that but the demand was high so I did it. It was fun. I began making Shaftmaster Portable Cue Lathes on the side, then full time and haven’t looked back since.”
Jude has shipped his $799 lathes to more than a dozen countries and just launched a $159 version for tips and cleans. His lathes work on one piece “house” cues or two-piece versions. Built on a telescopic aluminum frame they are light and portable, and ultra quiet. The all-in-one price includes a manual, toolkit, light, foot switch, variable speed controller and carry bag.
The Shaftmaster is designed for the billiards enthusiast who either wants to work on his own cues or take it a step further and earn some money at local billiard establishments. Jude says there will always be a place for heavy, expensive lathes but said his tool covers most of the tasks people need for billiards so it has a great audience.
Jude left Xerox seven years ago to operate the business full-time and can be seen at most major billiards tournaments throughout the year. But you won’t see Jude arriving in a giant truck and trailer combo. He retrieves his Shaftmaster portable cue lathe from airport checked baggage, sets the adjustable strap over his shoulder and heads to the latest show.
“I am the only cue repair person that can travel by plane and set up anywhere,” he said. “So when you use me at the national tournaments I can charge less for repairs since my travel costs are less.”
Jude is a member of the Billiard Congress of America as a Manufacturer, He has given lectures at the BCA International trade shows on the subject of cue repair and how it should be part of your full service Billiard Business. He is a member of the International Cue Collectors Association and currently owns a priceless collection of rare cues. You can find out more at www.shaftmaster.com or by calling 877-258-3844. No one is faster then the Shaftmaster…