Knowing Your Neighbors Schmelke Cues


RICE LAKE, Wis. —

Most of us think of playing pool as a fun thing to do while out at a bar, or even over at a friend’s house – if they happen to have a pool table.

But for those who take the game a bit more seriously, Schmelke Cues out in rural Rice Lake, Wisconsin, is hand-making world-renowned pool cues right here in the Northland.

And if you’re looking to kick your game up a notch or two…maybe the difference is the big wooden stick in your hands.

“There’s probably several hundred different varieties of just components that can go into a pool cue.  They have to be individualized for the player,” said James Schmelke, owner of Schmelke Cues.

It was his father’s shop before it was his.

“We started as just a manufacturing business,” James said.  “But we decided that we could turn it into a showroom for all the local people.”

James’ father was just out of the Army in World War II.  Times were tough, and he made his living playing pool.

But in the elder Schmelke’s garage, a pool cue dynasty was born.

“That’s what my dad started and I carried on the next generation,” James said.  “Now David is the third generation!”

David is James’ son, the third generation Schmelke to join the family business.

“This is how I grew up, and it kind of gets in your blood,” David explains.  “It’s a nice tradition to keep maintained.

David has been working here for 18 years now.

These family men will tell you that there are dozens and dozens of things to consider when you’re looking for a new pool cue.

“Really there’s no perfect cue,” David said.  “It’s doing a really good job of fitting the cue to the customer.”

But don’t be overwhelmed.

If you come into the shop the staff will talk to you about your skill level, how often you play, what you think you’re looking for.

And these experts will craft the perfect pool cue for your game.

“We use wood from all over the world for building cues,” David explains.  “A lot of wood from Mexico, South America, the Indonesian region, from Africa, and a lot of wood from Canada (which is where the best maple in the world comes from.”

In the Schmelke factory, the wood is aged, and each custom pool cue is carefully crafted by hand.

Schmelke Cues will produce around 200 custom pool cues each month.

“Which for a small staff like we have, it keeps us really busy throughout the year,” David says.  “We’ll never be a facility that produces thousands of cues a year.  But that’s what we do for our niche, and we do it really well.”

For those really looking to take their game to the next level, this family is hand-crafting just what you need.

“If you buy one and take care of it, it’s going to last 20-30 years and you can pass it on to the next generation,” David Schmelke said.

The Schmelke family has a shop at their factory right off Highway 53 in Rice Lake, Wisconsin.

You can also visit their website to browse or place an order.

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