The Making of the Wooden Lacrosse Stick 

Written by Gary Groob

“All Lacrosse All the Time”


Photo taken by John Berry | file photo


With the passing of Alfie Jacques in June of 2023 at the age of 74, I thought it would be a great time to chronicle everything required to craft the traditional Haudenosaunee lacrosse stick - examining all the love, effort, and craftsmanship required from these very talented men.


In the modern game, we have accepted players using plastic sticks, manufactured by machine, but still strung by hand. However, that is not the lineage from what the game originated. From the beginning of the Creator's game, it was always wooden sticks used, created by talented men such as Alfie Jacques.  

A few years ago, I had the privilege of going to a wooden stick festival in Onondaga, New York. I met up with Alfie, who was kind enough to take the time to both tell me, and show me what went into designing and building the wooden lacrosse stick. 

Alfie Jacques was the premiere manufacturer of hand made wooden lacrosse sticks for over fifty years. Based in Onondaga nation (just outside of Syracuse, New York), people came from all over the world to buy his sticks. 


The process of making a wooden Lacrosse stick is quite amazing, and an incredible amount of work. 

The first step required Alfie cutting 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's that hard of a wood.

The next step is splitting the tree into wedges which takes about two to three months to dry. Alfie uses a big metal axe and wooden mallets to split the wood. 

Then comes carving the stick. Carving takes about a month. 

Alfie Jacques in his workshop, in June 2014.

 Photo by Mike Greenlar | Central Current


Next, Alfie steamed 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 Alfie bent the sticks he used wire (like hanger wire) placing it from the head to the shaft to keep it from moving.  


Photo taken by Michael Greenlar | file photo

Of note, Alfie used the end closest to the trunk of the tree to bend, as the other end is just too stiff to maneuver. The sticks were then strung by hand.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). 

Alfie Jacques worked six days per week and crafted roughly 200 sticks per year, down from a peak of nearly 12,000 per year in the early 1970s, when he worked with his father.  “It’s getting harder to do but it’s not debilitating,” said Jacques, explaining the toll the work takes on his right hand and shoulder. “I can still do everything, I can still make a perfect stick, but it’s getting harder to do.”

Alfie signs all of his sticks, but showing his sense of humor he smiled, when telling me, when he made a left-handed stick...he signed it backwards. 

The cost was approximately $300 US, and was well worth the money.


The mark Alfie Jacques left definitely made the Creator proud. He was able to train a number of people in his life to carry on the tradition. The Creator's Game is still in very good hands.