Alf Jacques has been (and is) the premiere manufacturer of hand made wooden Lacrosse sticks for over fifty years. Based in Onondaga nation (just outside of Syracuse, NY), people come from all over the world to buy his sticks.
The process of making a wooden Lacrosse stick is quite amazing, and a heck of a lot of work.
The first thing Alf does is cuts down a Shag Bark Hickory Tree with no branches for eight feet of trunk (which means the trees are usually 75 years or older). Although Oak is a tough wood, when hammering a nail into the wood, Oak will split, Hickory doesn’t have that problem, Hickory will actually bend the nail…it’s that hard of a wood.
The next step is spliting the tree into wedges which takes about two to three months to dry. Alf uses a big metal axe and wooden mallets to split the wood.
Then comes carving the stick. Carving takes about a month.
Next, Alf steams the sticks to get the bend in them. Although it seems like there would be leverage to do so, it really is a tough task to get it just right. This takes another month (depending how humid the weather is) for the sticks to dry and take. When Alf bends the sticks he uses wire (like hanger wire) placing it from the head to the shaft to keep it from moving.
Another piece of information is that he uses the end closest to the trunk of the tree to bend, the reason is that the other end is just too stiff to maneuver.
The sticks then get hand strung.
The entire process takes about ten months to make a quality stick.
On a side note, nothing from the tree goes to waste. If pieces are not being used in the stick, they are used for the steaming process (heating up the water to make steam).
(Photo Credits: Gary Groob)