How it Started
RipWood started very organically back in 2011 when my boys began playing lacrosse and wanted wood shafts. I tried different woods but eventually settled on the upstate ash after reading a Woodworking article about Northern Pennsylvanian ash being used for early car springs. I was fortunate enough to have Stylin’ Strings Lax, a premier custom lacrosse boutique in my hometown, design and create a dyed and hand tied head for each of my sons. Justin was always really cool about tuning up the heads as my boys playing styles changed and commented on how cool my wood shafts were. As the years went by and more and more of my sons teammates asked for shafts, RipWood was soon born.
About Andy (Founder of RipWood)I grew up and live today in the middle of the huge Pennsylvania hard woods. This renewable resource has created the person I am today. These woods not only provide heat, food and recreation for my family, they taught me how to create with my hands. They also taught me that nature can provide what we need if we treat it with respect. I plant more trees than I harvest and firmly believe that responsibly harvested wood products are superior to the soulless, mass produced metal shafts available today.
Molecular adhesion, straightness of the grain and the ability to flex and not break is the reason why these special Northern Pennsylvanian ash trees are some of the only tree standing after a hurricane. Also why kiln dried Pennsylvanian ash was used as axel springs in most of the cars produced in the late 1800s and early 1900s throughout the world. Today, locally sourced ash makes the finest, lightest and strongest wood shafts that are affordable, fun to use and durable.
The process starts with my visit to the mill. After meeting with the saw operators I hand select the straightest, lightest and clearest parts of each log. The wood is then shipped to the kiln where it is further dried to around 7% moisture and packaged for its travel to Southern PA’s RipWood shop. Once the wood arrives the hand process of individually creating each shaft begins. Most of RipWoodʼs machines are from the early 1900s. These prewar machines were used to make wagon spokes and have the heart and soul of early America. Each plank is cut to size, jointed for straightness and planned for thickness. Once ripped on the saw it goes back to the planner for width and the shaping begins. The shaper knives and blades are custom created for RipWood giving each shaft a unique and ‘positive’ feel that separates RipWoodʼs shaft from others. After the sawdust stops flying off the machines each shaft gets hand sanded, stained and top clear coated to a high gloss protecting it from the weather.
Ash grows throughout the United States, but Northern Pennsylvania’s hardwood is special due to its molecular adhesion. Most woods will flex but after repeated stressors the tree will finally break. However, our local ash is different and not affected by this. The damage happens at the cellular level when the woodʼs basic components are damaged and ‘explode’ causing the wood to give up and break. Pennsylvanian ash has the molecular adhesion to stay together and create the finest wood lacrosse shafts available today. RipWoodʼs shafts stand as superior to any other wood shafts that exist in today’s marketplace. They will be a welcomed addition to your quiver of weapons.
Flex & Vibration Dampening
Comparable in strength to titanium and scandium, at a fraction of the cost, ash flexes but won’t bend. Players swear they keep the ball longer when getting checked due to the natural vibration dampening that wood offers keeping the shock away from the head and absorbed into the organic fibers of the shaft. The same vibration dampening and flex benefits of solid ash can be felt, or not felt, when delivering a check. Players love the solidness and the hard hit of ‘laying-the-lumber’ and will notice that the impact does not translate back to their hands keeping them in control and shutting down their opponent.
Straightness of Grain
Equally important to the molecular adhesion, flex and vibration dampening of solid Pennsylvanian ash is the straightness of the grain. To produce the absolute strongest and longest lasting shaft on the market the grain must be straight. Straight grain will give the shaft lightness and strength due to its long, full length organic fibers and is only obtained by meeting with the mills to handpick each log and bring back to Southern Pennsylvania to start the handmade process.