My goal here is to show you how to create a sturdy, functional and attractive cane that the user can wear with confidence and pride. If all efforts are successful, the ugly, flimsy common store bought cane will be abolished with a more sturdy, attractive and comfortable cane for those who need one, and just maybe a new interest as a fashion trend will return.
The use of hand and power tools will be shown and in the event you do not have one, you can use the other. The techniques are basic and the better results are in the level of effort you choose to endure. You can make a simple, crudely finished cane in a day or take your time in shaping and sanding and have an elegant art object within a week.
For more of my work please visit: http://lumberjocks.com/mmh/projects
Step 1: Selecting the Wood. A Note on Safety.
When using harder, exotic woods such as Bloodwood, Ebony, Padouk, Purpleheart, etc., these will take more effort in shaping and finishing, but the results are extraordinary.
SAFETY EQUIPMENT (NOT optional):
Dust Mask and Vacuum Dust System
A Note on Safety: If you don't want to lose it, then wear something to protect it. Your eyes, lungs, fingers, etc., are irreplacable. Flying particles and dust can damage your eyes and lungs. Wear the geeky equipment and be safe.
SUPPLIES & TOOLS NEEDED:
[Note: Electric and Hand tools are listed as optional for use upon availability.]
Wood for SHAFT: 34-36" Long (with grain) x 1.5 x 1.5"
Wood for HANDLE: 6" Long (with grain) x 2" Wide x 1.5" Thick
Wood for Collar (optional): 1.5" x 1.5" x 1" Thick
Dowels: 4 inches each - 5/8" & 1/4" hardwood
Forstner Bit: 5/8"
Wood Drill Bit: 1/4"
Saws: Table Saw & Band Saw or Hand Saws
Assorted Wood Files & Rasps (coarse & fine)
Electric Sanders (optional): Belt & Disc Sander, Orbital Sander
Assorted Sand Paper (36 - 320 grit)
Shaving Mule (optional)
Spoke Shaves (optional)
50" Wood Clamp
Wood Glue or Epoxy
Rubber Cane Tip
Clean Rags & Paper Towels
Step 2: Cutting the Wood
(Note: The safety cover has been removed for photography purposes.)
Step 3: Mark and Drill Inner Dowel Hole.
On the top end of the shaft, mark a line from each corner cross-wise to create an "X". The point where the two lines cross is the center of the shaft. Clamp the shaft so the surface is 90 degrees square from the drill shaft. While machine is OFF - Use a 5/8" Forstner Bit and mark the center of the "X" by indenting the bit into the wood. (This will help the bit find the mark and not jump when starting to drill.) Turn on machine and drill 1.5" deep. [Hint: The shavings should be vacuumed while drilling and you may need to bring the bit up to the surface to remove dust/shavings otherwise they may compact and jam. This can also heat up the bit and start to burn.]
Step 4: Remove Excess Wood on Shaft with Hand Tools.
On the Band Saw, follow the line you marked from the top to bottom, tapering to 7/8" wide and trim off the excess wood that will be the bottom of the cane shaft. This step helps eliminate excess wood that would otherwise take longer to remove.
[Note: It is always best to remove LESS wood and go back and remove more. You can not easily add wood if you've taken away too much.]
You can now begin to remove more wood to shape the shaft. You can use hand tools and/or power tools. Which ever are available. I am showing you how to use both.
This is a Shaving Mule. It is an old fashioned system to clamp and work on a piece while sitting. You can make your own or buy one. Your right foot kicks the foot stand to create pressure on the jaw to wedge the piece you are working on in place. This is used mainly to make spindles for chairs.
Using several different styles of spoke shaves and rasps, I taper the shaft down to the desired shape and thickness.
Do not do the final shaping at the joinery end, as you want to assemble the handle and optional collar before your final shaping. Otherwise you may remove too much material and have an unsightly void.
Step 5: Remove Excess Wood on Shaft with Power Tools.
You can also use power tools to remove wood. I like to use both, as the power tools are fast but also very noisy and usually create a lot more dust than hand tools. Hand tools are slower but the serenity one can create is something you just have to experience first hand. It's a Zen thing. Either you want to go there or not. You can get there fast or enjoy the journey and get there in a more peaceful state of mind.
I use a Belt & Disk Sander and although you can take off a lot of material quickly by using a coarse grit (24-36), it does make a heck of a lot of noise and dust. The dust is very fine and hazardous especially when using finer grit (80-220). You should have a vaccuum hooked up to this and a dust mask is recommended, especially if working on toxic species of wood. Eye and ear protection are also a must.
Step 6: Cutting & Shaping the Handle.
The size of wood needed for the handle is 6" L x 2" W x 1.5" Thick. First make sure the top and bottom sides are square so that when you drill the hole to connect to the shaft, the dowel will fit squarely, otherwise it will angle and your joinery connections will be off. Draw your design on the large surface of the wood. Mark where the handle joins the shaft. Mark the area where the hole is to be drilled with the "X" as shown for the shaft. Drill the hole 1.5" deep with the 5/8" Forstner bit, same as done with the shaft.
You can use the Belt & Disk sander to remove the excess wood to start shaping the handle, then use hand tools to get more subtle shaping. Error on the side of removing less than more as you will do your final shaping once the cane is assembled.
Step 7: Adding a Collar to the Handle & Shaft (optional)
Select a piece of wood at least 1.5" x 1.5" x .5"-1.0" Thick. Any smaller and you will have difficulty holding it in place while drilling. You may still want to use a hand clamp to hold the wood, as when the drill is in the wood it can spin and you will lose control of your grip. If you drill the hole in a larger piece of wood and then cut with the band saw, this will eliminate this problem.
Step 8: Assembling the Cane.
Using wood glue or epoxy, glue pieces together and secure with a bar clamp. Use a soft rag to protect the handle from being dented by the clamp. Set aside 24 hrs.
You can now do some additional shaping using hand and/or power tools. Remember to not do the final shaping until the side dowels are in place, as you may have some tear out from the drill bit and will need to sand down the wood to remove this.
Step 9: Adding Side Dowels
Using a 1/4" drill bit, indent the wood with the bit with machine turned OFF. Turn on machine and slowly drill through the cane. You may have some tear out on the exiting side of the cane, so you will want to have left extra thickness of wood to compensate for the repair of this.
Once the two holes are drilled, measure the 1/4" dowel, adding 1/8" on each side. Glue in place and allow to set 24 hrs.
Sand down the dowels and do your final shaping to remove tool marks and tear out. Start with 80, 100, 180, 220 grit and finish with 320 grit. Your cane should be looking quite nice by now and the next step of applying the finish will confirm all of your hard work.
Step 10: Finishing your Custom Fancy Walking Cane
You will need to place your painted cane somewhere that is dust free and can dry for 24 hrs. You may want to clamp the bottom end so it's supported so the sides of the shaft or the handle will not touch anything. You may need to sand and touch up some areas if you have rough spots.
Using either a polyeurethane or oil/polyeurethane product, wipe on a moderately thin coat of the desired finish. Cover thoroughly, but do not leave uncovered areas and do so quickly as air bubbles will appear if you re-coat too many times. Wipe off any excess, as if using an oil/poly mixture, it will not dry thoroughly and will become gummy. Multiple thin coats dry faster. Sand in between coats until the final top coat. Allow to dry completely between coats.
CAUTION: Many of these oil finishes are HIGHLY FLAMABLE! Read the instructions and follow carefully. Dispose of used rags properly. NEVER toss a wet oil soaked rag in the trash. It will combust and ignite. Air dry or put in water and air dry before disposing in trash. Also use proper ventellation. READ the label!
Ouela! You are now the proud owner and creator of a fabulous, custom made fancy walking cane! Post your results for all to see!
See more of my work at http://lumberjocks.com/jocks/mmh/projects.