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50 Pounds of Burl

Updated: Apr 30, 2023

So here’s a free answer to a question or would that be a free question to an answer on Jeopardy.

Alex Trebek: “a rounded knotty growth on a tree, giving an attractive figure when polished and used especially for handcrafted objects and veneers”

Your Response “What is a burl?”

Lucky you knew that answer because you chose a true “Daily Double.”

Because of my interview a few weeks ago with Kenny Koo in San Francisco on our great “2018 Pool Hall Road Trip,” I had a vague idea that designing a pool cue is an art.  However, I still had no idea of how the process actually began or that it could involve a burl.  Since there is absolutely no sense in reinventing the wheel and trying to add to information when it’s already been so well done, let’s just take a look at the video below that shows pool player/pool cue creator, Kent Davis and his process. If you watch until the end of the video, not only will you get an idea of why custom-made pool cues can be expensive, you’ll get an inkling into the character of a true artist and how he views his art.

Mike had met Kent back on the 8th of July in Fremont, CA where the 2018 West Coast Swing Tournament was going on at California Billiards. Kent happened to be talking to Eddie Cohen who plays down at Danny K’s where Mike shoots, and of course Mike wanted to say “hi” to Eddie being he was in Fremont and all. (It’s a relatively small world that pool players occupy, it seems.)

Mike had to wait quite a long time for his interview because Kent happened to keep winning in the tournament at Danny K’s.  His custom-made sticks probably have some kind of magic.  Finally, the tournament ended and Kent took 2nd Place!  You’d think a guy would be too tired to answer any questions after hours of shooting pool, but he had promised Mike he would and that’s just the kind of guy it seems Kent is.

Mike asked the whole list of questions I had written and we could make this article go on for pages.  However, the excellent videos do show and tell almost everything you’d want to know. There is only one answer to one question you won’t hear on the video.  It’s one of the questions I put on the list for Mike to ask Kent and it was highly revealing of Kent and of the professionalism of this artist/craftsman. “Who are your competitors?” Mike asked Kent.

Well, if you listened between the lines of Kent on the first video, you won’t be surprised at his one-word answer to Mike was:  “Fraternity.”  The question was almost non-answerable to Kent it seemed.  He explained to Mike that there is no competition among custom pool cue makers.  Each has his own style and is appreciated for his artistic expression.  As a person who, myself, is a member of OC Writers, a group of people who express themselves, not on a lathe or a kiln or a loom, I can understand exactly what Kent is saying.  Kent also said something very profound at the end of the first video that we can all say to almost everyone in our lives. He wanted to thank all those who contributed in small ways and in large to helping him hone his craft. “Everything I do belongs to you.”  It reminds me of a quote I heard once about life.  “Everything you experience informs the craft.”   I’m glad Mike insisted “we” interview Kent!

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