Made these and customized them for my nephew's. Took about 2 1/2 days to make them.
Step 1: Getting the Trees
Cut some cedar trees roughly 6 foot long and 2 - 2 1/2 inch in diameter... (preferably fresh as the bark peels easier)
Step 2: Stripping the Bark
Begin by stripping the bark.. (this is easier when the tree is fresh). Strip to the inner bark.
Step 3: Cut the Sides Flat
After stripping the bark, you need to take the table saw and flatten the sides of the tree. (This makes it easier when planing the tree later). Careful as the fresh cut tree might be slippery after the bark is striped off
Step 4: Planing to Size
Next use the planer to shape the tree to a 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 inch square depending on your hand size it may need to be bigger or smaller.
Step 5: Cutting Corners (Literally)
After planing the tree to size simply use the table saw and cut the corners as shown in the last photo. This process helps you in the rounding phase.
Step 6: Rounding
Now that you have cut the corners it is time to round the stick. I laid mine down and rotated it on to the sander, but really whatever works will be fine. Then I rounded the ends.
Step 7: Customize Your Own...Optional
Now the sticks are good like they are, just smooth them up with some 150 grit sandpaper, add some linseed oil and you will be set. However, I wanted to add something special for my nephew's.
Step 8: Adding Name & Animal Tracks
If you decided to customize your stick (who wouldn't :) )... I chose to put their names and some animal tracks on them. So I printed some tracks off as well as their names and traced it on the sticks with the carbon paper.
Step 9: Cutting It Out
After tracing the name and tracks on the stick it is time to cut it out using the rotary tool with the carving bit. Now if you do tracks, you can cut the entire track out or just the outline. I chose to cut the entire print out. Then take some sandpaper and sand inside the letters and tracks to smooth the inside before painting.
Step 10: Painting What You Cut-out
After cutting the tracks and names out I spray painted them black to help them stand out from the Cedar.
Step 11: Sand and Seal
Once the paint has dried (if you used any).. sand down to desired smoothness and coat with linseed oil to seal them.
Step 12: Added Bead Work
To add even more customization I put a hole near the top of the stick and added a strip with some beads in their favorite color. I took some scrap leather and cut some long strips. I tied a knot on one end and had my sister put the beads on, then I tied another knot to prevent the beads from moving. I then placed the strip through the hole and tied another knot at the desired length. Cut off any excess leather.