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With the start of summer on the horizon, the call of the outdoors begins. During these glorious summer days, there is no better place to be than outside hiking in the woods. If you plan on going on an extended hike, it's always helpful to have you're reliable hiking stick handy. And what better stick to use than your very own, home made, personalized staff?

Step 1: Parts

To make this hiking stick a real work of art, you will need:

- A stick

- A Dremel (with a sanding and a cutting disk)

- An Xacto Knife / Pocket Knife

- Sand Paper

- A can of spray paint

- A can of Clear

- Aluminum Foil

- Leather Strips or Shoe Laces

Step 2: Find Your Stick

To start your project, begin by finding a stick suitable to your needs. Try and find one that is straight, and about chin height. Try to find one that is as fresh as possible to ensure that there is not much interior rotting. Most of all, find one that feels the most comfortable for you to walk with, after all it is yours. After you have found your stick, the personalization can begin.

Step 3: Make the Handle

To get the best use out of the hiking stick, you're going to want to have a smooth handle. To this you will want to peel away the bark off of the top of the stick. Find the spot where your hand is most comfortable on the stick and removed the bark about another three inches below that spot and then remove the remaining bark all the way up to the top of the stick. This will provide you with a long smooth handle.

Removing the bark for this spot should be easy, just pull down on the existing lip of bark from the top of the stick. Tightly clasp your free hand around the point where you want to the handle stop, and the bark should stop breaking off at that point when you peel it.

Step 4: Personalize!

The most important part of your personal walking stick is the fact that it's yours! This is the fun part of the project where you can really turn an ordinary piece of wood into something worth keeping around. To begin, use the Xacto knife to cut out a rectangular section of bark from the middle of the stick (it should peel away pretty easily after you cut one side). Next, use the sanding disk on the Dremel to flatten out the wood in this section (I would recommend using a vice for these next few steps if you have one). Using a pencil, sketch out what you want to engrave. Seeing as I'm not the most artistic I chose to simply put a name onto the stick. If you are artistic though, feel free to go crazy and sketch in some elaborate images or patterns!

Now, use the engraving bit on the Dremel to etch out your image. Use the slowest speed on the Dremel to prevent it from skipping out of your hand and ruining your image. In the event that you do make a mistake, just slap the sanding disk back on and start it again!

After you are done etching, use the sand paper to smooth out the letters/image that you have created.

**Note- A Dremel is not required for these steps, however it will be quicker and easier for beginners. More experience craftsman can used sand paper to flatten out the wood and can whittle out images or letters.

Step 5: Spray

To really make your personalization pop, your going to want to add some color to this. To do this, get a can of spray paint, preferably of an outdoorsy color like a dark green or some shade of brown. Spray a coat of paint onto the entire area that you have flattened out and allow it to dry.

After the paint has dried, use the sand paper to remove the paint layer from your image. Since the image is engraved into the wood, the sand paper will not remove the paint that is in the etchings. This will leave paint behind in the crevices, and really make your personal touch stand out. Also, try to leave a little bit of paint on the outskirts of the sanded section to fade the image back into the wood.

Step 6: Clear Coat

Now that your images is finalized, spray the stick down with a coat of Clear. The Clear will protect the wood from further damage as a result of decay, and will also make the grain of the wood really stand out for a professional finished look. You may have to spray the stick twice in order to get a nice coat on both sides. Allow the Clear time to dry before moving on.

Step 7: Leather Loop

Now that the stick is finished, it's time to add a leather loop to it. The loop will serve a double purpose as decoration and as a strap to go around your wrist. Using one of the leather strips (or laces), begin to wrap it around the top of the stick. You can secure one end of the loop by wrapping it inside of the the leather as you coil your way to the top. Using the long free end, create a loop that is long enough to reach your wrist. Tie the end of the strip back to another spot on the strip near the stick using a simple knot to finish the loop.

Step 8: Aluminum Cap

The most vulnerable part of the stick is of course the part that strikes the ground. After sometime, the wood at this point can become damaged and it can compromise the entirety of your creation. Some aluminum foil and the other leather strip can prevent this from happening. Fold the aluminum foil until it is a small square, just enough to cover the tip of the stick (make sure that it has some thickness, too thin a layer of a luminous foil will eventually tear). Use the other leather strip to secure the aluminum onto the stick. After completing one loop, tie the bottom end of the strip on the leather that you just enclosed it with, this will hole the base of the aluminum and the strip in place. Continue to circle the aluminum foil with the leather, leaving as little foil visible as possible. Finally, knot the upper end of the leather back into one of the lower loops to secure it to the stick.

Step 9: Happy Hiking!

Enjoy the outdoors with your own personalized hiking stick!

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