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Maker of pool cues since 1988, currently in Delta Junction, Alaska.
Michael J. Bender grew up in the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights, Illinois. At a young age, he became interested in the things his father made in his shop at home. After high school, Mike went to gunsmithing school for one year, and was involved in competitive rifle shooting. Mike was a five-time All-American rifle shooter while attending the University of Eastern Kentucky and later at graduate school in Richmond, Kentucky. Shooting was very competitive and stressful, and he found that the one activity that provided a complete diversion from the stress was playing pool. Soon, he was playing many hours a week. As an industrial technology major, Mike regularly worked in the machine shops at college. One day, he decided to make his own two-piece cue from a house cue. When he brought the completed cue into the local pool room, he immediately started getting requests for cue repair work.
It was at the University of Eastern Kentucky where Mike met his wife, artist Tracy Dunham. After college, the two moved to Chicago, where Mike worked for eight years making full-size prototype printing presses. He continued to do cue repair work on the side, which is how he met Ed Boado, a cue collector and businessman.
In 1989, the two started Omega Cues. While at Omega, Mike learned from David Kersenbrock, who joined the company soon after it was founded. Tracy also worked at Omega, and was responsible for designing some of the shop´s most beautiful cues. Mike and Tracy collaborated on many elaborate cues while at Omega, but they were not happy with big city life.
In 1992, they moved to the interior of Alaska to start Bender Cues in Delta Junction. Mike´s machining skills won Bender Cues a first place award for "Best Execution" just one year later, at the 1993 American Cuemakers Convention in Baltimore. They exhibited at the cue shows in 1995, 1998, and 1999. Today, Mike and Tracy make 50 cues per year. Tracy does most of the design and inlay work. Her inlay pieces are cut using a World War II vintage Gorton pantograph. In 2003 they switched from a two-part urethane to a UV cure finish. Hustler cues are no longer offered; only about 12 were made before they were discontinued several years ago.
Bender cues are easily identifiable by the "M. J. Bender Alaska" or the newer "Dunham-Bender Alaska" identification mark on the joint screw. Inlays and points are radially arranged in multiples of five. Mike was the first to do multiple re-splice points in 1994, which are one of Bender´s signature designs. They make every component in the cue except for the tip and the bumper. If you have a Bender cue that needs repair, or would like to talk to Mike and Tracy about the design of a new cue, contact Bender Cues, listed in the Trademark Index.
For more information on Mike Bender and Tracy Dunham, please refer to the listing for the "Omega/dpk Cue Company."
Mike and Tracy currently specialize in one-of-a-kind custom cues. The following cues are representations of the work of Bender Cues. These cues can be ordered as shown, modified to suit the desires of the customer, or new designs can be created. The current delivery time for a Bender cue is approximately two years.

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