Cue Shark

Chris Nitti puts his heart into making pool sticks.

According to his friends, the late actor Paul Newman liked to talk about two things: cars and billiards. Newman would have liked Chris Nitti.

“I was an honest auto mechanic,” Nitti, 54, says. As a young man in Union, N.J., Nitti repaired alternators and fixed air conditioners, but after 25 years under the hood, he turned to his first love: pool cues. He made his first cue in 1992 and went full-time in 1997. He makes every part of his Nitti Cues by hand.

Nitti literally turns birds-eye maple, sterling silver, pre-ban ivory, Asian amboyna and African ebony into long, slender works of art inlaid with intricate geometric designs. Nitti Cues start at $750 and have gone as high as $7,500 for custom orders. “Some will go to collectors—especially Japanese—and never see a table,” he says, perched on a stool in his east Orlando workshop-garage, surrounded by industrial lathes and a tinkered sewing machine he uses to wrap handles in Irish linen.

Clermont firefighter Jeremy Hendrix says playing pool is his only hobby, which makes owning five Nittis his lone extravagance. “His cues have a crisp ‘hit’ [first contact with the ball] that smoothly transitions through the cue,” he says. “I own $700 cues by Chris and $2,600 cues by Chris and they all play the same– fantastic.”

Making 60 to 70 cues a year, Nitti says it’s difficult to say how long it takes to build one. “Hundreds of 5-minute steps,” he says. “It’s amazing anything gets out the door. They’ve gotta be perfect.”

Nitti’s cues are sold on various websites, including his own,


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