Totem - The Crane / Jai Jauk Dodem
Where From - Mackinac Dodonjaba
Date of Birth - January 1959
Born - St. Ignace, Michigan, USA
Lives - Port Charlotte, Florida, USA
Ron Daniels - An Extraordinary Master Woodworker!
Pro9 When I first saw your Twisted Turtle Custom cues on Facebook, I was really impressed with your designs. I have never seen anything like them. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Ron "Aiinee Boozhoo, (Hello how are you?) I am Ron Daniels a member of the Mackinac Band of Chippewa and Ottawa Indians and The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. I am a proud Anishanaabe Sundancer, Master Woodworker, Musician, Artist."
"Read More..." for Pro9's exclusive interview with Ron Daniels.
Pro9 Ron can you tell us what led you to building Twisted Turtle Custom Cues?
Ron "As a young kid growing up in Michigan, my father was always building things like wooden airplanes, from models to full size airplanes. And he also built almost all our furniture. So my fascination with woodworking began at a young age.
My mother “Crazy Hands” was always making us our clothing, working the gardens, canning vegetables. We always had projects going on. My dad and I would build model airplanes then fly them. It was a part of my upbringing working with our hands. On the weekends my dad and my uncles would pull out their electric guitars and have little jam sessions. They were major inspirations to who I am today.
I became a cue maker, the same way I’ve done other things in my life. At one time a boss of mine questioned me as to why I was looking at the blueprint for a home we were building. I said to him that I was just checking it out. He said to me that I didn’t know what a print was nor would I ever be able to read one and build a home from it. Man that floored me and my life was changed forever! At the time I was just a twenty two year old grunt on a carpentry crew. Within four months I had taken my boss’s job, and went on to lead a finish carpentry crew of fifty eight men. My crew built a custom resort on Gasparilla Island in southwest Florida for the DuPont family.
My cues were really a result of playing around in my custom wood shop. I was building a custom jewelry box and I wanted to bend shapes in the lid, not inlays but solid so when the lid was opened, the shapes would be visible from the inside also. There was a local cue maker near my shop, and he would often stop by and go thru my scraps to build his cues with. One day I wondered what these laminations I was working on would look like if they were turned on a lathe. So I made up a blank and I gave it to the cue maker to turn for me. About an hour later he came dancing thru my parking lot with the turned piece. His eyes were wide and he was smiling from ear to ear! Neither one of us could believe what we were seeing! On that summer day in 2004 Twisted Turtle Custom Cues was born.
I retained a patent attorney the next day, and began filing my paperwork for a patent. In November of 2004 I received my US Method of Manufacture Patent US#6,814,113 B1. After seeing the turned piece and the way it looked I figured that pool cues would be a natural fit for this “Twisted “manufacturing process."
The Hurricane Charley Cue - from windfallen Grapefruit tree with 9 extreme twists
Pro9 So Ron I understand you are of Native American decent, can you tell me a bit about your tribe, and how being born into that culture has affected your younger years, and your later adult years?
Ron "I am a proud member of the Mackinac Bands of Chippewa and Ottawa Indians, as well as a member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. My mother’s side of my family is all Ottawa but only the most basic Traditions of this culture survived.
One of the traditions was working with your hands. Most Ottawa were comfortable in the woods and our culture has a history of our relationship with the many varieties of trees.
One of my Grandfathers was a boat builder and another was a partner in a lumber mill. The Ottawa had treaties with the State of Michigan in the early treaty years to supply the State with trees and lumber. I think working with wood just came natural because of my cultural heritage.
For several hundred years native children were taken from their families by virtue of “being Indian” but that is not what happened to me. Growing up we always enjoyed the outdoors, camping, fishing, hunting, building fires. This is very normal for a native child. We are instilled with a sense of community and we never let anyone go hungry, if your neighbor had a garden, you help them pull the weeds, if the neighbor needs his roof fixed, we all jumped in and helped get the work done. We always had respect for the people and each other. So my mother and her family have helped raise me and my family with the values of ancient native ways.
There is an esoteric aspect that my culture brings to the art building a unique Custom Cue. Seeking out a tree that has been blown over by the wind or struck by lighting, every cue has its own story. That is part of what the Ottawa always do.
Being Indian today (citizen of a sovereign nation) the Earth and the U.S.A. has a historical connection. Working with wood and practicing ceremony in harvesting and processing my cues, is keeping alive the teachings for the younger ones."
The Pacific Islanders Cue, “Anohui” a name meaning “Patient and Persevering”
Pro9 Well Ron we are very happy that you decided to put your beautiful wood creations into Pool Cues! What made you come to the conclusion that Pool Cues is where you wanted to focus your talents and skills?
Ron "When I saw how the designs looked more diverse and pronounced in a turned piece as opposed to something that would be square or flat, the first thing that came to my mind was how the beauty and dimensional qualities that we can now see would be striking in a pool cue. In my estimation the most diverse and exotic woods and combinations of them were to be found in pool cues.
You know, a long round stick made from a single piece of wood can make a fine playable pool cue. But when you see all the pool cues that are out there Wow! Points (as in full spliced cues), Inlays (often of very exotic materials), ring work, and exotic animal leather wraps, I am amazed at the way some players dress up there cues. None of these additions enhance the playability of the cue at all. The players themselves are the ones that appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of custom cues. That is why I decided to build custom cues."
Pro9 Ron, can you tell us how your native traditions affect your designs, and are you attempting to relate a story or feeling when you build these cues?
Ron "Yes Dave when I was starting my business, I wanted to honor my elders’ wishes. That is why ceremony is practiced in honor of Mitakuye Oyasin (All my relations). All of my Twisted Turtle Custom Cues are built with that respect for the creator and the materials that he provides us which we use to build theses Cues.
The woods that I use generally come from my travels to places around the country and usually end up presenting themselves to me and I know that they will become a beautiful cue. I like to try to relate a story with the woods. I have a new one I’m just finishing up and the wood came from a man that bought these slabs of Kamani from the natives in Hawaii. He brought the slabs to Alaska then to Florida, he had been holding onto them for 15 years! I was looking at his tools in a garage sale and I was like whoa, what’s up with theses slabs? I figured they must have been meant for me so I bought them all. With a small piece of Peruvian walnut and some curly maple I made this cue that is for the Hawaiian natives and the Peruvian natives and the beautiful ocean that is between them. Its my Pacific Islanders Cue I call her “Anohui” a name given to me by an artist friend from Hawaii which means “Patient and Persevering” So yes some of my cues do have a story to them.
I have others too like my neighbors grapefruit tree that was blown into my yard from Hurricane Charley in 2004. When I cut up the tree the wood was a brilliant bright yellow and very hard and dense, I made one cue with the wood so far it’s called the Hurricane Charley Cue. I have enough material to build about 7 cues and that will be it. That cue can be seen on my website."
The Canary Wood Cue - with Panga Panga twists and Ebony forearm & butt.
Pro9So Ron your cues really do have stories to them and I appreciate your candid answers regarding them. Can you tell us a little about how your cues are made and what you construction preferences are?
Ron "Chi Megwiich (Many Thanks) Dave!
As Anishanaabe I begin each day with a small offering of Sacred Sema (Tobacco) offering a breath of life into the Sema and offer the Sema to the four directions. When I begin to work on my cues, music or art, I always burn sage. The smoke from the sage purifies our spirit and our intentions while we work. I Fan the smoke with an eagle feather from my smudge to myself my tools and the woods that will be used for making my cues. It is important to honor the sacrifice of the trees because they give up their lives for us. To some it may seem unusual, to me it’s natural to honor that sacrifice, and to feel certain that each and every cue I make reflects the beauty, grace and life that we call trees.
Yes these cues are results of many construction techniques that I have had to develop over the years. I had to virtually build my own tools and presses to facilitate this construction method. Coming up with the design was just the beginning. After a few years of trial and error I have refined my process that I use to produce my custom cues. Truly one of a kind custom designs, There is nowhere else on our earth that you will find these cues other than from me. I could build traditional designs but I figured there are a lot of fine cue makers out there that already make them and how could I improve upon them, or why would I want too. So it may be the hardest path to follow but I’m enjoying chasing the dream and not the competition.
For construction I like using a 3/8-10 x 3” radial stainless pin for the joint and I like the joints to have that wood to wood connection no matter what ring work we do. A lot of woods have different densities and weights so at times we cannot control what the end resulting weights are but we are careful to consider the balance points and use a weight bolt system to make sure the playability of these cues is at its optimum level. The handles and shafts are shaped with a pro parabolic taper, shaft tips are standard 13mm the joints are 21.25mm and the butt measurement is 31.5mm. And of course we can provide custom shafts, tapers, joint connectors of preference for our customers. My standard shafts are made using seasoned hard rock maple, and tipped with Tiger Everest medium tips, and we can also provide other shafts desired like OB 1 and 2, Predators, and others.
At this time I have only one of a kind cues and a series I call my”crossfire” design. My website has a lot of pictures and information on the cues I have built and what I currently have available. It is www.twistedturtlecustomcues.com I will gladly work with clients to come up with a design that pleases them utilizing any combination of woods, veneers, shafts, tips, rings and my twisted creations. Regretfully we cannot ship pre ban ivory out side of the U.S.A. due to the bans on its export from America."
Pro9 Thanks for sharing so much with us Ron - I really appreciate getting such an insight into the fascinating culture and unique process that goes into making each of your beautiful cues.
Ron " Dave, Chi Megwiich for the opportunity to introduce myself and my custom cues to the European and UK communities! It is an honor to be a part of Pro9 website and forum!
Debwewin, gwayakwaadiziwin, minadendamowin. Bamaapii Negee Ron. (Truth, honesty, respect, until we meet or speak again friend)."