The one-piece stick is the culmination of over 100 years of hockey stick development. It’s made using the lightest and strongest materials available on the market, through some of the most advanced manufacturing processes in the hockey equipment industry. Unfortunately, while increased competition and technological advancements have made composite sticks better and less expensive, high level one-piece sticks remain difficult for many amateur and rep players to afford. The up-front cost is high, and despite the warranty, some sticks can break within a short time span.
The solution for many players has been to turn to cheaper sticks which use inferior materials. For example, the higher fiberglass content in a $79 stick will make the stick more durable, but it will also sacrifice weight, responsiveness, and puck feel. However, for stick-savvy and budget-conscious players, there exists a little-known solution that provides a balance of performance, economy, and durability: the two-piece stick.
An Elegant Weapon for a More Civilized Age
While the one-piece stick has pushed back the boundaries of technological innovation in hockey equipment, the two-piece stick was arguably more revolutionary. One-piece construction is nothing new – the earliest hockey sticks, dating back to the early to mid 19th century, were hewn out of a single piece of hard wood, such as ash. The real innovation in hockey stick performance came with improved materials.
In 1981, the first aluminium hockey shaft was created, and the two-piece stick was born. This new construction made the stick massively more durable, since not only was the metal shaft less likely to “whip out” as a result of prolonged use, but the wooden blade could also be replaced. Furthermore, high-end aluminium two-piece sticks were usually lighter than their wooden counterparts. However, what aluminium gained in durability and weight, it sacrificed in flexibility. The new shafts were notoriously stiff, which worked well for taller players with a heavier shot, but hurt smaller players and anyone who wanted a quick and effortless release. Finally, aluminium sticks were often considered to have inferior puck feel to wood sticks (although this varied with individual player preference).
As technology progressed, so did both shaft and blade materials for two-piece sticks. First, aluminium shafts changed to composite, and wooden replacement blades eventually went the composite route as well. Standard hosels were replaced with tapered versions which offered a better weight distribution and a more precise kickpoint. Alongside better two-piece sticks, one-piece sticks were gaining traction in the pro market. Many manufacturers offered both a one-piece and two-piece version of their sticks, such as the Innovative 1100. One-piece sticks started eclipsing their shaft and blade cousins at the pro level, and eventually the one-piece stick came to dominate the market at all levels of play.
The ultimate in durability and customizability
While two-piece sticks are a rare sight in local arenas and especially at the pro level, there are still holdouts such as Joe Thornton, Alexei Kovalev, and Dustin Byfuglien who stick to their trusty shafts and blades. If one-piece sticks are technologically superior, why would these highly-skilled players bother with older tech? As with many hockey gear questions, this one boils down to personal preference, but two-piece sticks are also underrated in several ways.
While NHL pros get a myriad of customization options for their one-piece sticks, some prefer a more hands-on approach to tweaking the feel and performance of their equipment. For example, Ryan Smyth insisted on heating and curving his wooden blades himself and assembled his own two-piece sticks at the arena. With a shaft and blade, players can try out different curves, different shaft and blade constructions, and even switch up their setup between games. Indeed, being able to swap out the shaft or blade allows amateur players to make the trial-and-error process of finding a stick setup they like more affordable. Compared to a one-piece stick which can cost anywhere up to $350, BASE’s composite blades will only set you back $65, so switching patterns (or blade flexes!) doesn’t have to break the bank.
Moreover, two-piece sticks are renowned for their durability. Even though modern two-piece and one-piece sticks use largely the same material, the possibility of switching out a broken shaft or blade in a two-piece setup reduces the replacement costs that inevitably accompany composite stick use. Many players, for example, tend to wear out the blade of their one-piece sticks before they break the shaft. The pain of replacing a whole one-piece stick with a perfectly good shaft but broken blade has driven some players to stockpile replacement blades instead.
Old School Setup, New School Tech
BASE’s shafts and replacement blades are manufactured with the same aerospace-grade materials and exacting quality control as its one-piece sticks. Indeed, BASE shafts and blades are specially machined to ensure a stronger, tighter fit at the hosel. From a structural engineering perspective, straighter carbon fibers are stronger, while fibers making 90-degree turns create a weak point. Therefore, the fibers in the hosel of BASE shafts are laid up at a 45-degree angle in order to eliminate the weak spot and strengthen the hosel-to-tenon transition point.
Furthermore, a 1/16” indentation is reamed out of each shaft’s hosel to match up with a similar indentation on the tenon of BASE blades, creating a snugger and stronger fit. While this indentation may create a visible gap when BASE blades are used with other manufacturers’ shafts, the structural integrity of the blade is not lessened in any way. Nevertheless, only the combination of a BASE shaft and blade takes full advantage of the unique manufacturing process that provides superior durability compared to other manufacturers’ two-piece setups.
While BASE’s one-piece sticks offer the best performance for the discerning player, all BASE sticks are available in shaft-only versions as well, and all three of BASE’s different blade stiffness types (Regular, Stiff, and Extra Stiff) are available as replacement blades. Since performance, and especially feel, are different for every player, some players may actually prefer BASE’s two-piece sticks to the one-piece versions. For intermediate or beginner players who want to take advantage of BASE’s multitude of customization options but are looking to save money, a shaft-and-blade setup may also be the optimal solution.
Recap: Pros and cons
Neither one-piece nor two-piece sticks are objectively superior, and different players will inevitably appreciate them differently. Here are some of the main advantages and disadvantages of two-piece sticks compared to their one-piece counterparts:
+ Decreased replacement cost (can replace shaft or blade)
+ Easier and cheaper trial-and-error for changing patterns, flexes, or other options
+ Less expensive overall than equivalent one-piece sticks
- Usually slightly heavier
- Different puck feel and shooting performance than one-piece sticks
- Proper assembly requires more work and skill from the user
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