Chris Nitti

Like Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Speak softly but carry a big stick”. These cues may gleam with elegance, but don’t be fooled, they are loaded to the max with playability. 

In this month’s “Meet the Cue Maker” we put the spot light on Chris Nitti of Nitti Cues.

Chris Nitti, 65, lives in Orlando, Florida with his wife Theresa and dog Heidi. Although he recalls playing pool as soon as he was eye level with the table, it was a gradual progression that led him to his career in cue building. He remembers a growing interest when he was about 12 years old and although he was playing in a bowling league, he would sneak downstairs and check out the venue’s Gold Crowns. At age 15 he purchased his first cue, a Viking R60 that cost $60 back in 1971. He hung onto that cue until 1974, which is when he purchased his first “big” cue. People thought he was crazy for spending $250 on a cue at that time but the one he purchased was from none other than legendary cue maker Bill Stroud (Josswest Cues). Quite the deal looking back on it now. Chris continued to play with that cue until he became a cue maker himself. Contributing to his future career path, his senior year of high school he pursued vocational training in automotive repair. While this led to an initial career in auto mechanics, it developed several skills that would later easily translate to building cues. He even credits his many years of spraying finish on cars for his talent and eye for perfectionism when it comes to finishing cues. He’ll also laughingly tell you the realization he had that the same lathe he spent so many years turning armatures and alternators in his prior career, would be the exact same lathe he’d later use as a cue maker. Chris continued to play pool recreationally over the next couple of decades while working in auto repair. It wasn’t until 1992 that he developed the curiosity to build a cue. He began by purchasing cue components from Prather that he could put together on his own. In 1993, he attended the first Allen Hopkins Super Billiard’s Expo which also marked the beginning of the American Cue Maker’s Association (ACA). Although attending solely as a spectator, it was there he met future Hall of Fame cue maker Ron Haley. It was a fast friendship and Ron even invited Chris to come visit his shop in Arkansas, which Chris was quick to oblige. He spent a week out there, learning from one of the best and acknowledges Ron as playing a large part in his getting started in the business. Chris also credits Ron for teaching him the point groove set up that he still uses to this day. However, before completely switching careers, he also took a machining class which he highly recommends anyone take prior to becoming a cue maker. He then made a gradual change, spending half of his days fixing cars and the other half working on cues until 1997. Chris then made the jump to full-time cue maker and established Nitti Cues. He now works out of a 450 sq ft shop near his home in Orlando, Florida.

In 1999, Chris remembers participating in his first Super Billiards Expo as a full-time cue maker. He brought 36 cues, and laughs about going home, with 36 cues. Humble beginnings for someone who has since brought home the ACA award for “Cue Maker of the Year” in 2018. Not his only ACA award, as a year later he split 1st place with none other than Hall of Fame cue maker Pete Tonkin for “Cuemakers Cue Choice Award”. Chris says at first, he was hesitant at making themed cues to submit for the shows but later came to love the challenge. One of his favorites was the cue he submitted for the 2015 International Cue Collectors Show (ICCS). The theme was “Great Cities of the World”, and Chris’s entry was a scene of the infamous hot air balloons in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The highly detailed components of balloons along with the mountain landscape on the butt sleeve of the cue required over 100 pieces of wood. It’s clear only a builder with an elite level of craftmanship and expertise would be able to master such small detail. Being viewed as a top tier cue maker is what Chris names as his career highlight. Yet the best part about being a cue maker is when he delivers a cue and sees the “joy in their eyes and the feedback of how much they love their cues”. He’s adamant that he loves what he does, and it makes him feel blessed every day. He’s even passed down his knowledge to his son David Elliott who has since branched out on his own and makes cues as well (Elliott Cues).

When it comes to the build, each cue starts with the half splice technique. All components are built in-house except for the pins and bumpers. Chris keeps several pre-built components in his shop to streamline the build process enabling him to more accurately predict his timelines. He can typically complete a cue in less than 6 months due to his efficiency and time management. The challenge, and what Chris states is the hardest aspect of cue building, is having a “would I want that in my cue attitude”. With such integrity to the art, it drives him to a level of perfectionism which often lengthens the process. Chris doesn’t have a favorite build or wood to work with but tends to like traditional designs. His inlays are done by hand using a pantograph. You’ll often find his cues encircled with his well-known ebony and white, slotted check rings. Another aspect of the build process Chris particularly enjoys is installing a linen wrap. He uses his mother’s vintage commercial sewing machine and every time he works on one, he states he’s fondly “reminded of his mother”. Lastly, just before putting on the finish, he signs his last name and the year which can mostly be found between the points. On top of their sound playability, Nitti Cues are notorious for their flawless finish which Chris credits to his extensive automotive background of spraying finish on cars. He states “the finish is everything on a cue after construction. The more time you can spend on it, the better.” Hard to disagree when such elite skill is glistening in every cue he completes.

Nitti Cues’ current production stands at less than 100 cues per year and Chris has no intention of increasing that number. His waitlist is steady at about a year and a half. Getting your hands on a Nitti cue will start at about $1,200 and increase from there, depending on the build and design. The best way to get one of your own is to contact Chris directly by phone (407) 380-6121 or reach out on his website at You can also view currently stocked cues by going online to one of his brokers such as Recollection Cues or J&J America. If you’d like to catch him in person, he attends the Super Billiards Expo every year and 2023 will be no different. Next year, he’ll likely have another award contender in the works, so make sure you stop by for a look and say hello.