The Stickmaker of Onondaga Nation

Stickmaker and lacrosse player Alf Jacques carves world-renowned sticks for players using the tools in his Onondaga Nation shop.

Alfie Jacques, his black shirt freckled with wood chips and sawdust, tipped his workbench down from its side and examined a bent piece of wood.

“Every stick is unique,” Jacques said, eyeing the grain of this particular piece of Hickory. “There’s no two alike, even from the same tree.”

The crude rectangular form with a few bends will soon take the shape — after much carving and sanding — into a lacrosse stick. But this creation isn’t Jacques’s first. At the age of 13, Jacques started making what is now tens of thousands of lacrosse sticks, and people regard him as the foremost wooden lacrosse stick maker in the world.

Photo: Liam Pierce
Alf Jacques crafts wooden lacrosse sticks at his workshop in the Onondaga Nation, April 2015.

Lately, though, Jacques fills a special order. He ramped up his lacrosse stick-making operations an estimated five percent in preparation for the Federation of Indoor Lacrosse’s 2015 World Indoor Lacrosse Championships, hosted in September by Jacques’s home Native American nation of Onondaga.

Indoor lacrosse sticks differ from field sticks. An indoor (or box) lacrosse stick can stretch longer than a field offense man’s stick, but is shorter than a defenseman’s stick. It has a width — at the head — of four inches. Although regulations typically ban wooden sticks from field play due to the heavier hit delivered, box lacrosse players wear more pads than field players. So, the sticks are allowed.

Jacques estimated that he’ll get some orders from the Iroquois national team in early May. He often makes sticks custom to order. He recounted a time when he made five sticks for five different players and laid them out during a practice. Without guidance, each player picked out his respective stick. “It’s like I already had their name on it and they picked it out.”

Jacques’s craft builds each stick from the tree-up — a unique style in the trade. He leaves the bark on as he forms each stick, which allows for greater tensile strength when making the tight U-shaped bend after steaming. The outer bark-covered wood doesn’t use up the whole tree, so Jacques takes the extra wood to make kitchen utensils, including an extra-long peanut butter knife.

“You usually get your fingers all peanut-buttery,” Jacques said. “But this helps.”

Jacques started making sticks with his father because they didn’t have the money to buy their own. Today, he makes around 200 sticks a year and sells each for between $200-$400.

“But it’s not about the money,” Jacques said. “It's for the love of the game.”

Alf Wooden Lacrosse Sticks

While our article was a feature on Alf's incredible work, you may try reaching producers of wooden lacrosse sticks at

Hi I was just wondering how

Hi I was just wondering how much are the wooden lacrosse stick made by Alf Jacques? How long does it take for a stock to be made? Are the stick good for young players around the age of 6?

Alf Jacques lacrosse stick

How can I contact Alf Jacques to place an order for a lacrosse stick?

Wonderful article. Thank you

Wonderful article. Thank you to the writer.

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