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Make a handsome wooden walking stick for almost nothing

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Picture of Make a handsome wooden walking stick for almost nothing

Make a walking stick for between £7 and free. I took 4 days. Mostly waiting for the varnish to dry. The construction can be done in an afternoon.
I have been making walking sticks for a couple of years now and enjoy this simple craft. I have sold and given away dozens in this time. Each one is individual and a joy to own.

Here is a simple Hazel walker with a modified crook handle made of sapele wood. I have simplified construction of this project for people who have never made a stick. I dont suppose it will win any competitions but it looks lovely, is sturdy and unique.

You have the option of making a shepherds crook. The crook is a great stick for hill walking as its length makes it easier to climb down steeps hils better. The crook is great to pull down fruit tree branches, catch sheep, geese etc. and for carrying your 'doggie bag' when taking Rover on his walks too!

I hope I have addressed everything in this instructable. Read through it first before asking me any questions.

 
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Step 1: Materials needed

Picture of Materials needed
02 actual size handle.jpg
02a crook handle.JPG
03 modified crook handle.JPG

Materials needed:

1 quite straight, seasoned wood shank at least 1 metre long

1 precut crook handle or block of wood 28 -30mm thick and approximately 15cm square

1 60mm length of 8mm stud (mine is from a skip although a bolt with the head cut off would do)

small slice buffalo horn / bone (optional)

metal and/or rubber ferrule the diameter of the metal one is critical as it must be flush with the end of the shank

epoxy glue or resin

clear yacht varnish

tube glue

sellotape or masking tape

tools needed:

vice

clean hanky/cloth

selection of wood rasps - mine were from £1 shop!

saw

engineers file (£1 shop)

various grits sandpaper (Aldi) 60grit to 240grit at least

heat gun (if shank needs straightening) or a big pan with lid and a stove

drill and 8mm wood bit

electric jigsaw (if you are cutting you own handle) or fretsaw if you are adventurous

trusty swiss army knife or any sharp knife

Any wood will do for the shaft or the handle. These are just two that I had. It's nice to make a stick with a contrasting handle. I chose sapele wood for its dark red colouring and this piece of hazel is a silvery gold colour. I use a small slice of buffalo horn as an interface between the two in order to straighten any unevenness between the shank and the handle. Of course you can get a ready made pole such as a yard brush handle. I recommend you file it down its length into a taper and use the sandpaper to finish it off.

perhaps some of the materials used are usually not available in the average workshop but as they appear in the instructable i shall give a link to suppliers IN THE UK. You ought to be able to find suppliers in your country. thestickman.co.uk has a forum where stickmakers all over the world swop tips and recommend suppliers in their territory.
 

The pictures:

Pic 01 my hazel shank dried for at least a year. Pick them in october to december, they will be ready to use a year later. If you cut the stick while the leaves are on the tree you can add at least 4 more months to the drying time.
or buy one - se below.

My shank is almost straight but could bend in use. This can be straightened, more of this later. shanks with 'doglegs' in can't be straightened. If you have a shank with branches on, nip the branches off and file them flush to the shank. This will add plenty of character to the shank. I like to leave them slightly proud of the surface but rounded off smooth. Giving it a pleasingly knobbly appearance. You can buy a pre seasoned shank from thestickman.co.uk, he has a good selection of ash, hazel, birch, sycamore, blackthorn and others from about £3 for hazel and more for the others. He does precut handles too. as well as the metal and rubber ferrules, 8mm stud and buffalo horn discs (spacers)

Pic 02 is a life size scan of a precut crook handle. I buy precut handles in lots of woods from ebay.co.uk for £3 from 'sarasoddsandends' she charges £2 postage for any quantitiy. If you print the image out to 17.5cm width, the handle is lifesize. Use the photo as a template to cut the handle. Preferably use a bandsaw but I find a normal electric jigsaw, used slowly, is just as good. The blackline on the photo is where i cut the crook handle for use as a walker. the red line is where i cut it for a full turned crook handle If you are adventurous, the oddly shaped end is designed to have a thistle shape carved out of it. If you are making a shepherds crook then use a much longer shank - 1.5 metres.

pic 02a precut crook handle

pic 03 modified crook handle. The wood underneath is a blank of English lime

sehrgut8 days ago

I found your Instructable while looking for ways to fit this handle onto a stick. It's a carved bone skull. The blank that was used was already capped with bone before carving, so it's perfectly smooth and sealed on top, with about a 3/4" well about 1-1/4" deep. Would I be best served just carving and sanding the top of the shank to fit the profile and potting it with resin, or do I need something more to mount it?

skull-handle-inside.jpg
philslizzy (author)  sehrgut7 days ago
Thanks for your query. I suspect what you suggest may be the best option. Another is: shape the shank so it goes right up. turn the skull upside down and fill the bottom (top!) with a puddle of resin push the stick into it and hold it in that position until its set. I suggest dribbling some resin down the inside through the eyeholes so it will seal the join at the jawline and shank. That ought to be enough. If the stick is going to be used for mobility rather than show, I suggest filling it with resin. It will be heavy and you would have to plug the holes.

If you do do what I suggest, perhaps paint the shank indie the sull matt black so it wont be seen easily.

BTW since Iwrote this 'ible I have found that a wooden dowel is just as strong as threaded bar if its glued properly. Good luck and let me know how you get on
Best wishes
Phil
aebe1 month ago

Well done stick , and instructable . I make sticks to sell , and due to a shortage of good stick wood here , I have taken to woods bought from Ebay , freight is expensive , but there are a lot of nice hardwoods available . I make sticks to sell , and to give to other disabled Vets .

broadsea1 year ago
What do you do to season the wood and how long does this take?
RangerJ1 year ago
This is a very good Instructable. I really enjoyed it. I am going to have to do a little looking around; ash is not native to my area, nor is hazel or blackthorn. I'll find something...
laurent1233 years ago
the coffee idea is awsome i never would of thought of that, quick idea here though. i usualy use olive oil it works realy well i dont know mybe you wann try it out
AltonB3 years ago
Great instructable- I m going to make my own. As for hitting dogs - I own three and if my dogs try to bite someone I got no one to blame for their getting a cracked cranium but me. However, I will not keep or own a biting dog.
mista.v4 years ago
 Does it matter how the grain is going when you cut the handle? Or will you not have much trouble with splitting during use anyway?
"In England you'd get arrested for hitting a dog like that ."

Not sure what they do in England, but when a dog is making a good hard effort to bite you, whacking the dog is simply self-defense.  The Cold Steel cane is light enough to be fast, and hard enough to shatter a cinder block.  Any good sized dog has the potential to hurt you seriously and some can kill you.  I didn't worry about the legality of my actions only the immediacy of them.  The cane project here looks like a great one, and in today's world, they are more then just a fashion accessory.  Not unlike Victorian England, a man's cane is coming back as a potential necessity. 
 You can bet if you do anything hard enough you'll end up arrested in England.
philslizzy (author)  troseph4 years ago
LOL so true!!
tcase troseph4 years ago
Be assured, I live in Wyoming, usa, and own a great dane, anyone abuses my dog, and that person will be hunted down, my dog goes to bite someone first, that person has a right to defend themselves from my dog... But that is why dogs and owners should be trained to keep their dogs under control at all times... cant train your dog not to bite, and it does bite someone,,, you should be the one getting whacked, not the dog...

Training is everything.... nice instructable, and weather in England or usa,,, be safe and all rules apply in different areas for different reasons... ( but I still wouldnt let a dog bite me. )

TC
You are correct, the biting dog is the owner's fault, but in my case the dog, (a large cross-breed pitbull & chow was known for going a bit nuts.  The owner kept the dog as a weapon, not a friend or even a pet.  As such the dog was seriously troubled and dangerous.  I had to defend myself not from a thug, but a dog that had been conditioned to be aggressive to everyone.   In urban areas, too many see their dog as a defensive system first, and then maybe a friend later, if at all.  I carry a cane as I need one with my weakened knees, but also because it is a swift and telling tool of defense against man or dog as required.  I love dogs and the though to hitting one saddens me, but the reality is some dogs are now becoming dangerous enough to require second thoughts.

As for canes, they are a serious accessory today, good for dress occasions as well as for the ability to give decent support.  Further, with a spike point on the tip for ice, they add an element of steadiness most appreciated.  I think this Instructable is great, and gives us a new way to look at what is possible from our own efforts.
*rimshot*
sakiyama4 years ago
Great steps, but seems like you need to bend the handle somehow or find a curve branch because it would break easily if dropped or weighted by hand pressure due to the short length-wise grain ocated in the middle.
philslizzy (author)  sakiyama4 years ago
Hi Sakiyama.Thanks for bringing this point up
 
I have been using it regularly since making it and have added an ice spike. If the wood was a softer wood and liable to break i would drill a hole completely thru the handle from back to front and put a wooden dowel or length of stud into it. Sealing the ends up with epoxy and sawdust. Anyone doing this instructable may be advised to do so if the wood is softer than this.
Phil
Reject20074 years ago
Great Instructable,Thank you.
gilleseg4 years ago
Coffee instead of wood stain brilliant! 
troseph4 years ago
 This is a great instructable. I think I'll make one for me and one for my grandfather. Thanks!
3366carlos4 years ago
very nice, They look very light.   i need something sturdy and heavy.  Lots of dog where I walk.
The handle could be made of any one of a number of very strong woods, up to and including Lignum Vitae, if you could find it.  Purpleheart is fairly strong and inexpensive compared to Ebony or Lignum Vitae.  Look at what is available at woodcraft.com, or check your local wood supplier.  Incidentally, "hardwood" just means that the wood comes from a broadleaf, winter-shedding tree.
philslizzy (author)  3366carlos4 years ago
Hi carlo$. The stick i made here is designed for mobility and easily stands the weight of a grown man. You could use thicker wood I suppose. That fat metal bolt in the handle end adds some weight and you'd know if it hit you against the side of your head!
If the dogs in Texas are so mean perhaps a gun or a taser may be more appropriate when walking Rover! In England they tend to snap around your heels and a stick like this (or perhaps longer) usually wards them off.

Thanks for your comments, take care
Phil
Thank you for your reply.  I walk in a park where its clearly written "dogs must be on a leash", once in a while I ran into people  walking pit bulls w/o a leash.  The mentality  is "my little dog will lick to death" until the damn dog attacks.  So I always carry a baton and a pocket knife, just in case.  I would carry "better" self defense "tools" if they were legal on the streets.  I will follow your instructable and  use heavier wood or metal.  Cheers.
I liked your projects..  Hopefully I will have time this winter to try this out.
For a serious dog (or thug) cane check out Cold Steel's Special Projects website.  They have both an African inspired cane (Knobkerry) and an Irish Black Thorn lookalike that is made of one-piece Poly.  Its tough, inexpensive (about $40) and strong.  I actually smashed a cinder block with the ball on the African walking stick, (wrapped to prevent too much impact marking.)  I used it a week after I got it to teach a local Pit bull that humans are not to chew on.  He left the area fast enough once I nailed him in the head!  The owner complained and I explained to him that the next time the dog wanted a go a round with me, I then would do to the owner what I would do to the dog!  I haven't seen the dog since.
philslizzy (author)  trike road poet4 years ago
Thanks for that interesting story! In England you'd get arrested for hitting a dog like that . But  if it was an illegal breed such as the pitbull, the owner  could go to prison and the dog destroyed. You'd probably be hailed as a hero in your neighbourhood! Sweet revenge!

I get the idea here that Americans are seeing these sticks as dog walking articles. Thats not too common where I live (in a town)

Thanks for your comments.
Jay_Clark4 years ago
Neat concept and good instructable! Thanks for sharing!
philslizzy (author)  Jay_Clark4 years ago
Thanks Jay, why not have a go yourself!
StickMaker4 years ago
Thank you for those neat instructions. I make them out of Diamond Willow ("Pure Art by Mom Nature") from sticksite DOT com.