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The Associated Press

RUGBY, N.D. (AP) — Jim Stadum just wanted to get his pool cue fixed.

That simple desire led the former New Hampshire carpenter on a journey from the pool halls of New England to this small community near the geographical center of North America.

It also led him to a new job: These days, he fixes his own pool cues.

Stadum crafts cues from exotic woods, often with a touch of silver, gold, elephant tusks or sparkling gems. He counts royalty among his customers and one cue is in the Smithsonian Institution.

“I was just your average avid pool player who really loved the game and kind of got intrigued by cues,” he said in the shop and office of Samsara Cues, where four people work, sometimes seven days a week.

Stadum got the idea of starting a custom cue brand about 12 years ago, after meeting Dave Doucette in a New Hampshire pool room. Stadum’s cue needed repairs, and he had heard Doucette might be able to fix it.

Doucette, who is now Stadum’s master cue maker, offered to make him a new one instead. “I watched over his shoulder, and we just kept building them,” Stadum said.

Their cue won best design in an American Cuemakers Association contest in 1993, and Stadum decided in December to bring the business to Rugby, a town of about 3,000.

Stadum has about 30 different kinds of wood from around the world. In a large corner shelf, he keeps supplies of snakewood, cocobolo, mahogany and paduak. On top rests an elephant tusk for ivory.

The company specializes in a style of decorative inlay with a mosaic of wood pieces, ivory or metal. Many Samsara cues are decorated with ornate swirls and loops.

“Cues are art, whether people realize that or not,” Stadum said.

Samsara has made about 200 cues a year. It takes about five months on average to make a custom cue, though some can take as long as a year to make. Prices range from about $850 to $25,000.

A set of three Samsara cues ended up in the collection of the Sultan of Brunei. The price: $40,000 for the set.

One cue, which was made of mahogany and glinted with diamonds, sported a 9-inch dagger that could be sheathed in the end. A metal tiger’s head was attached to the handle.

“It’s kind of a hidden industry,” said Doucette, a former machinist. “It’s probably the ultimate in woodworking.”

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