Introduction: Multi-Function Walking Stick - Converts to a Chair

Picture of Multi-Function Walking Stick - Converts to a Chair

Wouldn't it be nice if your walking stick served double duty as a chair?  This walking stick functions just as well as a stationary resting device as well as it does as a mobility enabler. 

Trying to find a place to rest on the trail can be a challenge; especially when the woods are wet.
Carrying a camp chair in your pack seems like an unnecessary luxury, however, if the hiking stick you were planning on carrying anyway could serve as a lounge chair, you just might want to indulge.

This Instructable describes the steps for making a convertible walking stick with an accessory seat.  At a height of 6 feet when fully assembled, the walking stick is really more of a Hiking Staff however, the 3 piece design makes it easy to transport and allows it to convert into a seat.

 But there's more...

This is the first in a series of Instructables demonstrating the versatility of this Hiking Staff.  Subscribe if you don't want to miss the next two sequel Instructables:

- Decorative and functional copper shod finial staff ends with storage

- Staff-top provision for an illuminating torch

Step 1: Staff Size

Picture of Staff Size
Walking Stick Material:
(3) 1” diameter hard wood dowels (each 2 feet in length).  I used oak for this project.

1: Cut  (3) three dowels 24 inches long.  These will be referred to as the Upper Section, Lower Section & Middle Section

Most of the new high tech walking sticks on the market today are the short (Trek) ski pole variety. Personally, I prefer a taller staff when hiking.  For me, the trail challenge is not so much the uphill incline, as it is the descent; especially while carrying a pack.

A grip near the top of a taller staff allows it to extend well downhill while the body remains upright during a descent.

The only negative I have found with a Hiking Staff is the inevitable accusation of sheep herding or the resemblance to Moses (which happens despite the lack of beard credentials) .

Step 2: Add the Copper Connectors

Picture of Add the Copper Connectors
Connector Materials:
(2) 3/4" diameter sweat fitting to 1/2" threaded male copper plumbing fitting
(2) 3/4" diameter sweat fitting to 1/2" threaded female copper plumbing fitting

The outer diameter of the 3/4" sweat fitting matches the 1" diameter of the wood dowel. This creates a nice flush transition at the wood to copper interface.
(Be sure to use  3/4" sweat to 1/2" threaded reducer fitting.  The diameter of 3/4" sweat to 3/4" threaded fitting will be too large to fit through the ring used to assemble the seat.)

(1) Package of two part epoxy adhesive 
      - Brandname “JB Weld Epoxy” adhesive holds well on metal.
      -  Make sure to use the original JB Weld that requires 24 hours to cure.
      - Do not use the quick cure (15 minute or less epoxies - including JB Weld Quick) as these
        do not hold as well to metal

1: Use sand paper (or chisel, pocket knife, lath or beaver teeth)  to reduce the diameter on one end of the Upper Section and Lower Section dowels to match the inside contour of the female copper fittings. The dowel ends should insert to the bottom of the threads on the female fittings. 

Both ends of the Middle Section dowel should be reduced to fit the male copper fitting. This dowel should insert all the way to the end of the male cooper fittings. (The male fitting requires the dowel to have two step diameter reduction in order for the dowel to fit flush to the end of the fitting.)

Reference the last photo in this series.

2: Test fit the dowel in the copper fittings several times as you are reducing the dowel diameter. The dowel needs to press tightly into the fitting. Use a mallet to force the fittings on (be careful to not damage the threads.)

Note: The fitting will ultimately have to be removed to apply the adhesive. This is where the wrench flats on the fitting come in handy. Use them to twist off the fitting.

3: Remove the fittings and “roughen-up” the inside of the fitting with something sharp (like the bent point of a nail or a file.) The deeper the gouges / scores on the inside of the fitting the better the adhesive has something to grip onto.

4: Similarly,“roughen-up” the end of the wood dowel by making grooves to hold the adhesive.

5: Mix the adhesive per the package instructions. Protect the threads on the fitting with tape. Apply adhesive to the inside of the fittings, and the ends of the dowels. - Make sure adhesive does not get on the threads.

6: Pound the fittings on the dowel ends and clean-up any adhesive that oozes out. Again, make sure the threads are free of adhesive.

Step 3: Drill Seat Pin Holes

Picture of Drill Seat Pin Holes

Drill holes in the end of the dowels.  This is required to accept the pins on the canvas seat.

1. Drill a 3/16" hole  2" deep into the center of the dowels at the fittings on the Upper Section and Lower Section .

2. Drill a hole in only one end of the Middle Section.   

Step 4: Add Pivot Notches

Picture of Add Pivot Notches

Pivot Material:
(1) 2" inner diameter welded chrome ring.  (Typically found in the hardware store near the chains.)

This is the Pivot Ring  (reference the last photo in this series) it holds the center of the dowel sections allowing them to flare out. 

Two notches are required In the center of each dowel section to accept the Pivot Ring.

1. Make the the first notch perpendicular, straight across the dowel.  (I used a file to make the notch)

2. File the second notch at a 30 degree angle.

The notches should be about 1/4" wide and 3/8" deep.

the perpendicular notch is for the initial positioning of the dowels when they are loaded into the Pivot Ring.  The angled notch accommodates the splayed position of the legs when forming a tripod.

Step 5: Sew the Canvas Seat

Picture of Sew the Canvas Seat

Seat Materials:
(2) Pieces heavy canvas (approximately 14"x14") 
Heavy duty Polyester thread

1: Cut two pieces of canvas into triangles  (14" per side)
2: Sew the two pieces together along the three sides.  Stop the sew lines about 2 inches short on each end
3: Turn the sewn together pieces of fabric inside-out through one of the openings at a corner of the triangle .
4: Fold over each edge of the triangle to a width of about 3/4 inch and sew.  This will form a "sleeve" along each side of the triangle.

Step 6: Thread the Cable

Picture of Thread the Cable

Reinforcement Material:
1/8" Stainless Steel Cable (Approximately 24" in length)
(1) 1/8" Aluminum double Ferrule (reference last photo in this series)
(3) 2" long Stainless Steel Cotter Pins

1: Thread the cable through the "sleeves" in the seat fabric.  The cable holds the top of the dowel sections in position preventing them from over splaying.

2: insert the ends of the cable into the ferrule and crimp.  A 5lb sledge hammer worked well to compress the ferrule.

3: Open the three cotter pins and load over the cable at the tree corners of the triangle.  These are the Seat Pins used to attach the seat fabric to the dowel sections.
(The open legs of the pin act like a spring to hold them in the dowel holes.)


Step 7: Assemble the Seat

Picture of Assemble the Seat

Load the Upper Section, Lower Section and Middle Section through the Pivot Ring.

Make sure the ring is in the notch of each section as the next section is loaded.

Step 8: Form the Tripod

Picture of Form the Tripod

Rotate each dowel section in the same direction so that the Pivot ring aligns with the 30 degree notch in each dowel section.

The splayed dowels will form tripod legs.  

Step 9: Insert the Seat Pins

Picture of Insert the Seat Pins

 Insert each of the three Seat Pins into the holes in the dowel sections

Step 10: Seat Complete

Picture of Seat Complete

 This is the seat  fully assembled, and ready to go...actually ready to stay.

I created a logo for our Boy Scout Troop using a graphics program and printed it out on iron-on transfer paper.  (this paper is readily available at any office supply store.)  It bonded well to the cotton canvas fabric.  (Remember that any iron-on transfer needs to be printed in reverse.)

Step 11: Seat in Action

Picture of Seat in Action

 The seat is sturdy enough to hold a decent sized adult.  It is as comfortable as any tripod camp stool can be, but it serves its purpose well for a trail side break.

Now if only it reclined and had a foot rest....

Below you can see the Hiking Staff Seat in conjunction with the light weight Backpacking Table described in the following Instructable:


RickG5 made it! (author)2017-01-29

I made this at a reduced height of about 1.5m, which is just below shoulder height for me. It folds up nicely to fit into my rucksack when I'm in urban areas or my arm's tired, although I've used it for a walk of a couple of hours and it's really comfortable.

It's a little small as a stool, but just about comfortably usable for me, and I'm huge. I've used 30mm dowel for strength, which has made it heavy, but not too much. I'd say "sturdy" :) Also, instead of steel cable I've used paracord as a support medium, in a stitched leather seat, and it holds my 300lb backside with no complaint.

I've put the same thread on the bottom of each segment, and put plumbing connectors in rubber ferrules to fit on the bottom of the legs to protect the threads when it's set down; these screw off and as a bonus I'm building a spiked ferrule that can be substituted on the bottom of the stick.

I've also made the addition of a paracord wrap (comfortable in the cold, grippy in the wet, and always good to be carrying more usable paracord) and a leather strap, which I hugely recommend. By folding a rectangle of soft leather in quarters lengthwise, punching a hole through the ends, clipping a karabiner through and looping that onto the bottom of the paracord, it massively reduces the amount of finger energy used to lift the stick on the upswing, and it's a nice place to hang your hand when you're knackered and leaning on your stick :)

Excellent idea, excellent instructable. I never knew I needed a staff until I used it!

Ranasp made it! (author)2016-12-24

So it turns out I made just the walking staff part instead of the seat, since the wood I go turned out to NOT be a good hardwood like I thought. Since I had already put notches in, I decided to somewhat cover them up by knotting some leather cord over it. The copper pipe attachments that were available to me looked hideous, had HUGE metal projections on them and tons of thread, so that was a big enough excuse for me to get a bench grinder and had at it. I left the copper rough since I think that will patina up nicely, and if not I can always file it smooth at a later time, or not since this is just a fancy three piece walking staff. I used copper wire and copper nails to make a nicer transition area from the wood to copper since despite my best efforts it didn't look perfectly smooth. I think I'll keep that for my next attempt. ;)

RickG5 made it! (author)2016-08-10

In the UK here, and it's tricky to find the plumbing connections - at least for a reasonable price!

For extra strength (and because it's what I had) I've built mine with 30cm dowel instead of 1", and connected with a combination of <a href='>B&Q 3/4" compression fit tap extenders</a> and <a href='>B&Q central heating threaded sockets</a>. I've found them cheaper on ebay too, but the ones I got don't fit together so well; the B&Q ones thread really nicely.

I actually cut the hex section of the tap extender off, just with a hacksaw - it was a lot easier than I expected; in fact the most tedious part was sanding down the 30mm dowel to fit into the 19mm connectors. After that a couple of minutes with a drill sander took off the anodized surface and took down the twist grips on the connector to make it look less like a plumbing fixture. Hopefully it'll corrode nicely and lose some of the shine.

Admittedly I've made a bit of a mess with the epoxy; I went all-in with it, I'm pleased with the strength of the joints but I think it looks kind of rough. I'm open to suggestions regarding how to fix that.

And on the topic of suggestions, has anyone else had any success finding stub-outs in the UK for reasonable prices? The Elkhart one seems to be largely discontinued even in the US.

Ranasp (author)RickG52016-09-07

Since I'm guessing that sanding it down to the wood would leave a groove dipping under the metal, why not get some brass wire and make a decorative wrap to cover those areas up?

Loonieone (author)2016-01-25

Very cool! I plan on making one for myself and scaled down ones for the 2 boys ( aged 9 and 10) that I spend time with hiking and camping.

paulgs15147 (author)Loonieone2016-08-04

I looked at using PVC, but there is quite a difference between the hole of the cooper and the outside of the PVC. So there has to be a lot of glue or, there has to be a lot of material taken from the PVC to fit. How did you handle that?

KeithP44 (author)2016-06-15

Would have been more functional it you included a spear head that could thread into the top connector, maybe even a three prong trident for fishing, or don't boy scouts do that kind of think anymore?

JoeR112 (author)2016-05-23

Elkhart #30500 1/2x6 COP Air Chamber


purplemutant (author)2013-08-18

Very very cool! I have been looking at putting together a hiking staff. For me it has to have two main things it does well. It has to work well for walking and for self defense. I like the idea of a multi functional staff, but wasn't sure how to do that without compromising the defensive part of the staff. Your copper fitting idea might just do the trick. The staff should be sturdy enough to not break when you hit something. Also, the copper fittings on the end should increase it's effectiveness as a defensive tool. I am thinking of getting a 6 foot bo staff and using that.

JeffC12 (author)purplemutant2016-05-23

I'm looking at this as self-defence as well. I have a fishing hole that I share with a family of beavers and some geese. About twice a year I have a problem with the males getting overly dominant. Having 6-feet of stout oak between me and an angry goose has a certain appeal.

harderm (author)2016-04-28

What does this staff (Oak, 6' high) weigh? Has anyone tried using bamboo? Bamboo's lightweight, surprisingly strong, and used in temporary scaffolding for building construction in Asia. You'd have to pick through a bunch to match fittings. thediameter with the copper

JeffC12 (author)harderm2016-05-22

You may want too consider rattan if you wanted to stick to asian materials

AndrewG47 (author)harderm2016-04-28

Pretty sure bamboo is hollow, no? So I'd think it would be a major weak spot @ the point of attachment of the fittings. Also: The diameter isn't as consistent as milled dowling, thus you won't end up with as good of a fit and finish.

harderm (author)AndrewG472016-05-14

Yes, bamboo is hollow over the longer sections of its length. There are nodes containing short, solid cross-bridges. I don't know how strong it is; probably weaker than solid oak, but is that enough? That's why I mentioned the scaffolding. As for the tips, you might have to glue the in place with epoxy. Best way to find out, of course, is to build one and test it.

onesimpleidea (author)2016-04-29

Hi. You might have answered this already: Is there an important reason for the connectors to be made of copper vs. some other material?

juanangel (author)2015-06-02

I like this. But on Step 4 you make no mention of how high up the poles the notches should be placed.

Fib0112358 (author)juanangel2016-04-28

it said halfway up each dowel

bengodwin (author)2016-04-28

what is the piece at the top of the staff? Is it just some personalization or something necessary? Sorry if I missed that in the instructable.

stmayhem (author)2016-04-28

I love this instructable.

I've used this approach to make several staffs for myself (and a couple for my sons, who helped with theirs) that we can break down and store in our bags with the rest of our martial arts gear. This has given us highly-portable versions of a bo/jo for use in practice, and can also serve (in their "broken down" form) as backup weapons for stick fighting classes. (I'm generally reluctant to use them for "contact" fighting drills, given the brass fittings, but have done so on occasion.)

tw0nst3r (author)2016-02-24

Thanks for the great Instructable!!

I'm planning on making one of these over these next few weekends, with some modifications:
· I hope to use paracord as the seat support; several lines around the outer triangle will serve as a framework for weaving a net. The net should provide extra support under the canvas (I'm a big boy). I still need to figure out how to protect the paracord lines at the corners from the cotter pins - maybe a plastic sheath at those points?
· I'll also use paracord instead of the ring, either a simple wrap several times around with a clove hitch to secure, or a full-out tripod lashing.
· I'm installing male connectors at top and bottom.
· I found an iron cap in the plumbing section that fits the male connector - it looks sturdy. I'll install that on the bottom to take the repetitive impact when hiking.

I'll try to remember to take pics of the differences, and will update the post once completed to let everyone know how it works. If it works well, it will go with me to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area this spring, and to Devil's Den State Park in the summer. It will then be a regular part of my backpacking gear!

Peace and Long Life,

Lorddrake (author)tw0nst3r2016-04-24

how did it turn out?

tw0nst3r (author)Lorddrake2016-04-25

Still working...finding free time difficult to come by, but I keep pushing. I've finished 2 of the 3 tripod supports, and am thinking through how I'd like to sheath the paracord net at the cotter pins to protect the net while sitting. I'm about 250 lb, and don't want this to break through on my first week of use. I have just under a month to finish so I can use it in BWCA.

Dreamchronic (author)2016-04-06

Hey this is so cool! Plus it has a steampunky look,yeaah

ferball (author)2016-02-29

Made one of these today out of 1" pvc electrical conduit. Had to do the notch thing differrent and I used a poly rope ring instead of steel but it came out great. I am a part sasquatch and weigh in at around 350 and the pvc and rope ring held up fine.

jerwhite (author)2011-06-10

Would using copper all the way through instead of the wood work? Would it weigh less or more? That way you could potentially use the inside of the tube for storage.

DIYR (author)jerwhite2015-05-06

Have you ever been at the top of a mountain when a squall suddenly comes up and the air is full of electricity? I have, it's SCARY, and the last thing I'd want in my hand is a metal rod!

Bushie (author)jerwhite2013-12-03

I imagine a copper tube would be harder on your hands; and less springy and 'forgiving' then a good choice of timber.

And even more uncomfortable again during cold weather (needs insulating hand grip..)..

And lightning storms...

ccrow3 made it! (author)2015-04-24

Fun build, looking forward to using in Hawaii next week!

koalagod (author)2015-03-06

Great instructable!!! I use a very small drill bit to put pilot holes where the jb weld can really get into the wood, and also I use melted wax on the threads and the threads only! to prevent the JB weld from getting into them. after 24 hours it melts off with very little heat and boom! I've made a few of these with and without the seat option, and all my friends that hike now sweat by them when I put the torch or storage that you've designed. Thanks for posting all of these!!!

koalagod (author)koalagod2015-03-06

swear by them... although I'm sure they've sweated with them too.

basementjax457 (author)2014-11-05

Great Instructable! I plan on making one using paracord or nylon rope as a handle that I can then unwrap and use to lash the legs instead of the ring (afraid I'll lose it). Question: do the threads snug down when assembling the staff? The pictures appear to show them not snugged down.


Moonman0922 (author)2014-09-28

i nominated you for a 3 mo pro membership for this awesome walking stick series great work

Moonman0922 (author)2014-09-27

Soooooo Cool might even do this in our scout troop!

A++ work man!

michael.mourreale (author)2014-09-14

This was Awesome. Thank you so much for this wonderful idea.

rbagdadi (author)2014-09-10

Excellent. Brilliant system

robotmastern (author)2014-03-24

i see a problem with the middle section, if you use the chair on anything other than soft dirt, you are going to mar the threads on the male fittings, and it wont go back together. perhaps a rubber foot or something could be placed on the end before use.

Devrimm (author)2011-06-28

Hi !!

I love it! It is more than good for a farmer and a sheppard(?) like me !
I made a chair like this some years ago but it was only able to sit on it. That was it.

This is REALLY good. Thank you.

Bushie (author)Devrimm2013-12-03

The correct spelling is "shepherd", to answer your question mark on the first line, Devrimm...

(THIS reply isn't rude ~ 'Devrim' did have a question mark in there; that everybody seems to have missed !).

kingzilla (author)2011-08-14

needs to glow in the dark

freakyqwerty (author)kingzilla2011-08-21


Bushie (author)freakyqwerty2013-12-03

A spray can of luminescent paint will only cost a few $$$ ~ then you can spray a spiral pattern down along and around the length of the staff...

AND a 1/4" x 20 t.p.i. bolt screwed into the top of the staff and cut off gives you a "monopod" for cameras and binoculars..

I ALSO add a wrist strap/leash to all of the staffs/walking sticks I make.

RangerJ (author)2013-11-16

That's pretty cool, and it beats sitting on the wet ground, too.

astral_mage (author)2013-08-31

has any 1 thought of using a grade 12 washer by chance?

hobobehr (author)2013-08-22

a fine looking staff Sir! I may have to adapt and copy your copper fitting joint and stub out tip to craft some support poles for my vintage camper's awning! will look so much better than an aluminum extendo pole

Roran516 (author)2013-08-21

This is one of the most amazing sets of instructables I've seen in a long time. I love hiking and all of these hiking staff ideas are really wonderful. Have you ever thought of selling these?

TterraggarretT (author)2013-03-15

Could pvc be used to make this? I don't know if it would be strong enough but it would be lighter.

bstullis (author)2012-08-30

So I am larger by far than most people (6'7" 280#) and was thinking of a larger diameter dowel for the legs. I was wondering if anyone else would know if the 1 1/4 diameter legs would fit in the 2" id ring, if not, would cutting the nitches deeper (1/4" to 5/8") would allow the ring to work or if any one knows of a larger ring (HD didn't have anything larger). I also plan on making the whole thing closer to 30-34" folded length giving me a taller staff and taller stool.

I thought I would throw it out to the community at large


Same problem here, not as tall (6' even, 230lbs) but yes, I would use a larger dowel. I would say, having done some tweaking-ish things like this before, that our pest possible option is to scale it up precisely. If you use a 2" dowel, use a 4" ring, or whatever in between. I would probably use a 1 1/2" dowel with a 3" ring. As to finding the ring, Ebay is a wonderful place for random fiddly things like that.
Regards, the Ninja of Suburbia

xrocool (author)2013-01-18


locospud (author)2012-11-17

would you be able to sell one to me ?? ill pay ya for one

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