A couple of years ago I was doing some carpentry work on a house built in 1890 with my good friend Mic. We were pulling up a plywood subfloor and revealing beautiful oak floor boards. Mic is an incredible life long woodworker that I met back in 2009 when I was playing music at a folk house in Upstate NY. He is one of those guys that I am pretty sure could fix anything and fix it with a lot of pride and forethought. As we continued peeling the plywood, the oak boards seem to be getting more and more beautiful with each stain and scar we discovered.
As we got to the last board we noticed that someone had carved their initials into the oak near the corner of the room. This immediately got me thinking about the history in the home and how many feet have hit these boards over the last 100+ years. As we sat there and admired the vintage look of the wood Mic used a word that I had never heard before…”patina”. This word immediately struck me.
Although this word is more common in the metal working world, patina refers to the surface wear of a material. I realized that all of my life I have been obsessed with patina. There is just something about a broken in leather jacket, a patched up canvas fly fishing bag, or a well seasoned cast iron pan that you just can’t get from new items. Patina to me means that the product is proven and built to last. It means that it has a story…it makes a product feel alive and real.
When I was in college I lived with Ansley Jemison for a while. Ansley is an Iroquois, a member of the Seneca Nation’s Wolf Clan and has been around lacrosse since birth. I will never forget the day we were checking out some old wooden sticks that were clearly over 100 years old. He picked one up and examined it, felt it and cradled with it. He said, “this stick belonged to a lefty”. I will never forget that moment. It immediately connected the current with the past and got me thinking about all of the great players from the past. So cool. The stick felt alive and my imagination ran wild as to what this player looked like and played like.
I made my first wooden shaft in 7th grade as a project in shop class. Other students were making things like tv trays, pen blanks and cigar boxes. I decided to make a shaft because I was absolutely in love with lacrosse. It turned out okay. I ended up using it to play wall ball during the offseason for the next 6 years. It was heavier than the titanium shaft that I used in games so it felt like I was training my muscles and increasing my hand speed. I remember that my hands started to stain the wood in certain areas and gave me a visual representation of all the hard work I was putting into my craft.
Well, fast forward almost 20 years and I decided to have some fun and make a handful of wooden shafts. It was a cool little artistic exercise. And to be completely honest, I just wanted to have a wooden shaft again to mess around with and keep forever.
These 12 shafts in this Woodshop Series are all hand made, sanded and painted. I made these for players that are looking for shafts that they can practice with and start to write its story. I made these for players looking for a more natural feel and a deeper connection to the roots of the game. I made these to be kept forever, no matter how beat up or scarred. I made these to patina. And I made one for me.