The stream of talent in Arkansas never runs dry — as proven by the local craftsmen, woodworkers and artists in the state. Shon Hardin joins these ranks with his business, Spanky’s Custom Cues. As most of these stories begin, Hardin was not born with the one desire to create pool cues, but somewhere along the road he found that his fingers were itching to push his comfort level, and add a bit more to his hectic schedule.
“I started building cues in 2015, and at that time I had ZERO woodworking experience. I learned some stuff in the beginning by buying some Hightower videos that teach you how to build cues, and I also bought [Hightower’s] book. Unfortunately, there are a ton of things not covered by the book or the videos,” Hardin shares. He claims to be in a trial and error phase, and he experiments with different styles and pushes his skills. Hardin stays in close contact with experienced cue makers Tim Monk and Scott Erwin. “I call Tim Monk at least once a week. I’m glad he’s not tired of me yet.”
Hardin’s cues are made from different varieties of wood from all parts of the world. Looking at his creations, there is an obvious statement of color, grain and design that he incorporates into each unique shaft.
“I never build the same cue twice; everything is one of a kind,” Hardin says. The process of making each shaft is not a quick one. “Everything starts out as a square — even the shafts. The shafts take about a year to turn down to size, and everything is a waiting game. Since I am always waiting, I have 10 to 15 cues going at all times.”
Hardin works full-time at the Arkansas Surgical Hospital, and when he returns home the work isn’t over. He stays up late into the night creating his one-of-a-kind cues, and then wakes up a few hours later to return to his full-time job. The days may be long, but he’s having a good time.
“I love my day job, and the hospital is very good to me. I have been there since they opened 16 years ago; maybe when I retire I’ll build cues full-time,” Hardin says.
Growing up, Hardin says that he didn’t have a lot as far as money or a big home, but he did have a loving family and a personal love for playing pool. He would enter pool tournaments at as young as 10, and at the ripe age of 12, he was a champion.
“Pool has taken me places I would have never been able to go under any other circumstances. I have always been in love with pool cues, and still to this day I can look at pool cues for hours and hours,” Hardin says.
His personal cue is understandably his favorite and the one he is most proud of. The majority of the cue is ebony with blue fame veneers and burl points along with burl segmented handles and matching veneer ring-work.
“I love segmented handles with burl wood,” Hardin shares. He shares photos and progress videos of his works on his business Facebook page. In the short amount of time he’s been creating cues, he’s built a large fan base of people hungry for more Spanky’s Custom Cues.
“I have several folks that own my cues that don’t even play pool. They buy them as collector’s items,” he says. “It makes me very happy and proud when customers call or text me saying how much they love my cues, and they don’t play with any other cues now. That makes all the late nights worth it.”
Check out more of his custom cues on the Spanky’s Custom Cues Facebook page.