North Demon Cues are made in China by a gentleman named Cheng Yong. I became aware of his work about a year ago, and was very impressed with the photos I was seeing on Facebook. They exhibited beautiful, meticulous inlay work and gorgeous designs that were outside the traditional "box."
I was even more excited after discussing the cues with Cheng. I quickly realized he was a very serious cue maker. He told me about his inlay techniques, and his knowledge of the latest technology. He was proud of doing things noone else is doing. His patience in aging and cutting his wood impressed me. And overall, his pride in his work and attention to details that most people overlook made me realize just how serious he is.
So, when I was presented with the opportunity to represent his work in the U.S., I jumped at the chance. Having not had the opportunity to see the work in person, I was excited to receive the first cues and have the chance to hold them, closely examine them, and most importantly, hit a few balls with each to evaluate their playability.
I was happy to find them excellent in all ways. The work itself looked even better in person than in pictures. The inlays are intricate and artful, and meticulously crafted to form beautiful geometric designs and, frequently, animal figures. The designs are tasteful and coherent, resulting in gorgeous overall cues. And finally, the finish is superb: a hard, perfect mirror-like surface that culminates in a cue that stands out and distinquishes itself from many other cues.
The hit also did not disappoint. They play solid and crisp, and have a stiff, yet solid hit that gives that pleasant "crunch" that you want when you hit the ball. I especially like the special attention he gives to each individual shaft. He spins each one at high speed on the lathe and fine tunes them to his specifications and special tolerances. They are especially strong and have very, very low deflection. Here's what he says about his cues and shafts:
My philosphy is that the cuemaker should fine tune each of his cues to reflect his knowledge of pool cues. If the shaft is adjusted by someone else then it no longer displays the cue's true playability. I adjust the playability of each cue before it leaves my shop, and it is a reflection of my knowledge of my sticks. I adjust every cue personally.
This is a bold statement, but consider that many of the top players in China use his cues, and he sells 200-300 of his shafts each year, and each one sells for more than $600.
Cheng makes his own tips, colors them green, and includes an extra tip with each cue, as well as a piece of his own privately-labelled chalk, all packed with each cue in a fancy, plastic-laminated box with a flip-down magnetized lid with the North Demon name and logo. I have never seen cues so nicely presented and packaged. In addition, he adds a set of carefully packaged interchangeable weight bolts.
Cheng's shafts are a creation that is a combination of science and art. He meticulously ages and cuts his wood, and then fine-tunes each shaft individually to his own demanding specifications and taste. He sells several hundred shafts a year separate from his cues, and they are very popular with top Chinese players. They have a conical taper, a stiff, crisp hit, with great feedback and minimal deflection that rivals any CF shaft I've played with.
His construction techniques are very advanced, and he is the only cuemaker I know of who regularly builts his silver veneers in a unibody fashion - one piece, not folded or combined. You can follow his silver veneers up and down, all around the cue, and only find one seam, IF you can find that one.
The beauty of these sticks speaks for itself. They are the "real thing" and seeing them in person is a treat. I hope my pictures will do them justice so that everyone can appreciate the exceptional nature of these sticks. They are truly superb.