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I've used Ash, but boy is it hard. I took the bark off immediately, then carved it. No cracking. I worked with plum, not knowing about it cracking, I left the bark on both ends until sufficiently dry. It has a lot of knots, which to me makes it better. I left some of the green bark which dried a nice brown and gives a mottled appearance to the stick. I clear coated it and it is beautiful. It is topped by a handle fashioned from another piece of thicker plum wood. Yellow Wood is fairly soft, but boy it is beautiful. It's nearly useless as a walking stick, but it's such a pretty stick.