Paul Dayton started playing pool while in high school, in 1960. His first cue was a “Willie Hoppe” Titleist. He thought it was too fat in the butt so he turned it down on the high school’s lathe, wrapped it in fishing line and refinished it. After seeing an old cue with an inlaid mother-of-pearl plaque, Paul found a shell and using his model making tools, an X-Acto knife and Dremel tool, he did the same to his cue. The results looked so good that his friends wanted the same custom inlay done to their cues. Paul was in business until he ran out of pearl.
After graduating from high school, Paul joined the Air Force. He then went to college and got a degree in biochemistry. While in college he qualified for and won the ACUI college regional straight-pool tournament. He then got married and started a career as an Epidemiologist with the New York State Health Department. In his spare time he began restoring antiques and continued repairing and customizing cues. By this time he had bought a roll of Irish Linen and a selection of mother-of-pearl inlays from Pete Balner while visiting Palmer cues to pick up a custom cue. By 1974 Paul was so busy with other things that he sold his Balabushka for $100 and stayed out of the pool room for 14 years. During this time he quit his state job and went to work for himself, restoring antiques. He was a frequent guest on local radio call-in shows and lectured to groups on the proper care of antiques. He also taught wood finishing techniques to numerous classes.
Paul began playing pool again in 1988. He bought a used cue, but was unhappy with the way it hit, so using his woodworking equipment he put on an ivory ferrule, steel joint and ebony collars. This was an improvement but still not right so he used some of the old lumber he had bought for antique repair and built a new shaft. The cue now had a much more solid hit. Next he made a cue from scratch, using more of the old lumber he bought at country auctions. It wasn’t pretty, but it had a great hit. Finally, 28 years after starting to work on cues, Paul figured out what he really wanted to do: build cues.
Paul then purchased a small machinists lathe and started making nicer cues. With the proceeds he began to buy more tooling, wood, and a bigger lathe. He started to phase out his antique restoration business and began to build cues full time. On early cues Paul inlaid points by hand with an X-Acto knife, files and a Dremel tool. He also put all of his ivory and mother-of-pearl inlays in the same way.
After a short while it became clear that the best quality maple was hard to obtain. So using some of his contacts from the antique trade, Paul found some suppliers in central Ontario and northern Michigan. Every couple years Paul travels there to buy his shaft and prong wood.
Paul and his wife moved to Florida, where Paul built a large new shop and new equipment and by 1996 was making and using short spliced blanks. At the same time he began earnestly buying wood so that he would always be years ahead of the building of the cue. He continued doing all his inlays by hand until 2004. By that time the limitations of using only hand tools forced him to move to a CNC for his inlays. He still does all the sharp points by hand but now he can do the finely detailed tiny inlays that were previously impossible. It also freed up more time to work on improving his veneers, his construction techniques, and the develop micro-rings. He still works every day but no longer travels to show, tournaments, or Expositions, relying on repeat customers, word of mouth and the web and he seldom puts in anymore 60 hour weeks.
In his spare time, Paul likes to create jewelry boxes and other miniature scale examples of early American antique furniture. He gives these to friends and relatives. A couple examples of these are pictured in the shop section of this site. His love of woods is apparent in these boxes.