Jim Pierce

Focused on playability? We’ve got you covered. A cue maker that describes himself as a pool player first. This month’s “Meet the Cue Maker” features Jim Pierce of Pierce Custom Cues.

Jim Pierce, 50 resides in American Falls, Idaho with his girlfriend Amy and their two Shih Tzus Lula and Jazzy. Although presently in Idaho, most of his childhood up until he was a young adult was spent in the Modesto, California area. It was there Jim was first introduced to the game of pool by his aunt in the early 80’s. She had a 9-foot Gold Crown table at home and he remembers the struggle of being 10 years old and having to stand on a stool to reach for shots. Although pool made appearances in his life as a young adult, it wasn’t until his early 20’s that pool really held Jim’s interest. Instead, he was pushing the limit with other extreme sports. By age 10, Jim was devoted to BMX riding but later transitioned to competitive skateboarding at age 15. He continued skateboarding until he was challenged to make the jump to snowboarding at age 19. Having obtained sponsorship in both, he found more passion in snowboarding and made a full transition by age 22. After numerous competitions along with becoming a representative for Sasquatch Snowboards, it was an unfortunate knee injury in 1996 that ended his boarding career. During the snowboarding off season, Jim maintained employment at his mother’s interior design business. His work involved building custom window treatments and installation. This is where he developed his extensive wood working skills. Upscale window treatment and design continued to be Jim’s main profession until 2008 and continues to be part of his side projects to this day.

Although he was still heavily involved in snowboarding along with his work in window treatments, it was in the early 90’s when Jim started getting back into the world of pool. Between snowboarding seasons, he found a local Modesto pool room where he met well-known pool player Nick Cano. It was Nick who taught him how to play. At the time, Jim was in his early 20’s, living at home with his mother and staying out all night shooting pool. That’s when his mom finally shared their family ties about his great uncle; both world champion and BCA Hall of Famer Jimmy Caras. This only added fire to his passion for the game and the next step was focusing on the equipment. While he was on a trip to Boise, he stopped at a shop owned by Mike Givens of Michelangelo Custom Cues. He had only gone in to have a tip replaced but after practicing with it on the showroom table, Mike offered him a sponsorship. He took the opportunity to ask Mike if he could help build his next cue. He was told to pick his woods and began creating a design. Together they finished that cue in about 7 months and Jim knew right then his desire to add cue maker to his list of professions.

Jim acquired a used lathe from Craigslist and began spending night and day building cues in his garage. Although his primary means of income was on the decline due to his new passion, it led to a new sustainability when the crash of 2008 hit. People were no longer spending as much money on home improvement, and he took the opportunity to make the switch to full-time cue maker. He established Pierce Custom Cues and rented a large industrial shop in Oakdale, California. He turned a small portion into a livable studio and the rest was devoted to cue building. He developed a weekly routine to refine his technique and craftmanship. With his primary goal of playability, he sought out feedback from fellow players. Every Monday he’d go to a pool hall in Modesto called Championship Billiards. It was filled with strong players who would give him their feedback on newly made cues and what they would like modified. When it comes to technique, Jim typically uses the short splice method. However, this year he states he will be using more variety and will include full splice as well. He doesn’t have a signature design but says they have been fairly streamlined since about 2008. He favors using   rich woods with earth tones such as olive wood, tulip wood and coco bola. He also loves the simplicity and often under rated look of Birdseye maple. His detailing is done by hand or with razor blades and he chooses not to use a CNC machine. While he makes cues both with and without a wrap, he prefers wrapless stating, “you can get much more feedback from the cue without them”. To this day, he still uses the original lathe he purchased and modified from Craigslist. It spins 10 to 12 hours a day and only requires about $70 a year in maintenance costs. He builds all his own machinery and advises he was one of the first to use lasered bumpers. Now he not only makes his own, but also creates them for a few other cue makers as well as Prather. It’s also the bumper where you’ll find his “Pierce Custom Cues” lasered signature. For years he was ahead of schedule until he moved to American Falls, Idaho in 2012. He acknowledges timeliness has been an issue in the past. However, his goal for 2022 is to get caught up on all active orders and get back to finishing cues ahead of schedule. Jim says he appreciates every time “someone picks you to build a cue when there are hundreds of cue makers out there”. He has big plans and says you can expect new and exciting stuff coming out of the shop this year.

Jim really wanted to acknowledge a few key people that have helped him along the way: His long-time friend who has since passed, Tommie Moser as well as Joe Lolley and Bill Lister. Jim also notes his friendship with legendary cue maker Tom Coker. It was actually Tom’s son Grady who taught him how to spray and finish cues. He’s grateful for his success and being in a position that he can even give back to the community. Every year he donates a cue to St. Jude’s to be raffled and makes it a priority to support fundraisers for other local players experiencing loss. When it comes to mentors, Jim states besides Mike Givens, he’s primarily learned on his own. He doesn’t have any direct influences but he does have an appreciation for other’s work. His favorite cue maker is Dennis Searing saying, “he’s the best cue maker in the industry and known for his precision”. He also loves the work of Shelby Williams for his innovative designs and “wow factor”.

To date, Jim states his career highlight was in 2013 during an event at the Riviera Las Vegas when several pros including Rodney Morris, Jose Parica and Amar Kang were all shooting with his cues. If you want to get a Pierce Custom Cue like the pros use, they typically start at around $600 for a Sneaky Pete and go up to around $3,000 depending on design. Jim specifically states he “doesn’t build cues for collectors. I build cues for players, and I want them to be able to afford it”. He produces about 75-95 cues per year and the best way to acquire one of your own is to contact one of his brokers. You can reach out to Bill Lister or Johnny Cisneros. Or you can also check out Biggelbachs.com or Seyberts.com for a list of in stock Pierce cues. Lastly, you can reach him directly on Piercecustomcues.weebly.com or the Pierce Custom Cue fans on Facebook. If you’re in Philadelphia this April, you’ll also likely find him lingering around the Super Billiards Expo. Feel free to say hello or make it interesting by challenging this “pool player first” to some action. Either way, we know you’ll enjoy meeting this well-rounded cue maker.