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Maker of pool cues from 1988 to 1999, and from 2003 to present in Denver, Colorado.
Ernie Martinez was born in 1965 and learned to play pool as a young boy. He and his father would play pool on the table in Ernie´s uncle´s basement. When Ernie was about 14, he and his father, who had a woodworking hobby, built a pool table for the family home. They went to Showcase Billiards, in Westminster, Colorado for pockets, cloth and other table components. There, Ernie became fascinated with the assortment of custom cues and became friends with the owner.
Ernie made his first cue on a lathe in high school in 1985. Even as a freshmen, Ernie excelled in machine work in shop class. He landed a job right out of high school at a custom machine shop, doing full-time metal work, primarily for small government contracts. While working as a machinist, Ernie started doing cue repairs and building two-piece house cues under the supervision of Clay Etheridge at Showcase Billiards. In the early nineties, Ernie left the machine shop to work for Showcase Billiards full-time. He made a majority of the Showcase custom cues during this time, most of which are identifiable by a stylized "S" logo on the butt caps, and/or a diamond with an "S" in the center engraved on the tip of the metric 1.5 by 10 joint screw. He used this pin on most of his custom cues from 1989 until 1994, although cues with piloted 5/16-14 stainless steel joints would be made at a customer´s request.
Ernie noted Bob Meucci as another early influence, and also admired the craftsmanship of Bill Stroud, David Kikel, Ernie, Gutierrez, and David Kersenbrock.
In the winter of 1995, Ernie started his own custom cue shop in Commerce City, Colorado. In his one-man shop he built approximately 40 cues per year, making every component in his cues except the tips and bumpers. All work was done by hand, without the aid of CNC. Most of his screws were custom-made to his specs. He preferred to use a flat-face wood-to-wood joint with linen phenolic ringwork. Early cues had metric 1.5 by 10 pins. Most Martinez cues made from 1995 to present have a unique 3/8-12 joint pin which Ernie spent a lot of time developing for his cues. The thread on these screws begins at about a quarter of an inch forward of the joint, allowing for the base of the joint to seat tighter. Ernie´s "EM" logo and serial number of the individual cue appears on this joint screw. The "EM" logo also appears on the butt cap of every Ernie Martinez cue made since he started his own shop in 1995.
Ernie specialized in one-of-a-kind custom cues made of hardwoods, ivories, metals, and stones. He refused to use any plastics or alternate substances. A two-piece hustler cue is also available, which Ernie initially used to make from scratch. Later he started making them from Valley one-piece cues to allow himself more time for high-end custom work. He would do true custom work, tailoring a cue to any specifications a player might require. Ernie Martinez cues are regarded as exceptionallly playable, with a slight forward balance and "soft" hit.
Ernie´s artistic designs are also much admired. In February of 1993 he placed in the design category at the 1st American Cuemakers Association show in Houston, Texas. Ernie exhibited at the 1995 Showcase of American Cue Art in Los Angeles and the 1998 Gallery of American Cue Art in New York. Five of his cues were featured in the 1995 "Hand of the Masters" Cue Calendar. Among these were his two "Escher" design cues, inspired by the graphic artist known for repeating geometric patterns and spacial illusions requiring a "second look." As in Escher´s work, with Ernie Martinez´s cues what you see the first time is not all there is to see.
Because his shop was far from Denver, and many customers had trouble finding it, in June of 1999 he moved to a location close to downtown Denver. Then he took a break from cuemaking for a few years. Ernie started making cues again at a new location in 2003. He is still making cues by hand in a one man shop, with all inlay work being done with a manual pantograph. Ernie started using a brass 3/8-12 joint screw in 2005.
If you have an Ernie Martinez cue that needs further identification or repair, or would like to talk to Ernie about a new custom cue, contact Ernie Martinez Custom Cues, listed in the Trademark Index.

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