Shillelagh | Walking Stick




Introduction: Shillelagh | Walking Stick

About: Currently splitting time between college, work, Army, and my own studio. My interests range the full spectrum, but is always willing to help.


Typically a thick stick of oak or blackthorn, used as a walking stick or club. Prominent in Ireland and irish folklore.

I came across an excellent walking stick with a kurl-type knot at the top. As I was collecting more sticks along a trail, an older lady complimented me on my "shillelagh". After asking what meant, I had my inspiration!

Step 1: Pick Your Stick

Primarily made of a hardwood, the single defining trait is the straightness

Walking along rivers and streams, where waterlogged wood drifts down, is a good place to start

Abandoned beaver dams can hold a goldmine, just be wary of where you stick your hands!

First picture are good examples, second picture are the undesirables

I'll walk a good ways with a candidate before deciding to keep it or toss it to the woods



4-5 feet tall

Generally straight with no major branching off

Comfortable to hold in hand


Deep cracks

Too heavy

Weak or rotten wood

Step 2: De-bark and Exfoliate

Be it knife or a bark scraping tool, remove the bark and and soft areas of wood, usually around any knots jutting out.

Steel wool or sandpaper helps smooth any rough areas or uneven patches

Step 3: Smooth and Shape

An oscillating tool was used to remove extra branches, and then to sand it smooth.

Trim the height of the stick so when your arm is perpendicular to your body, it ends at the top of your hand

You're not gandalf. If it's too tall, it just adds weight and makes it cumbersome.

Step 4: Seal the End and Add Designs

Typically the end of a walking stick is capped in metal, but I find wood burning to be an effective alternative.

It also lets me expand my artistic talent by trying out different designs

Experimenting to find your style is a must

Step 5: Finishing Touches

Take a torch to the wood, char it up, then rub beeswax on it. A rag can rub out the soot and leave a beautiful finish with matte effect.

Adding stain or clear coat can really bring out the wood layers and subtly designs.

A simple lanyard made from 18" leather cord and two drill bits (1/8th and 1/4th) is both stylish and functional

Step 6: Show It Off

No two trees are the same. It goes double for walking sticks! Use your artistic talent, hidden or not, and create your own travel tool!

Any number to tools can be used to create and add effects, and there's virtually no limit!

If you liked this or had inspiration, let me know, and VOTE!!!

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    5 years ago

    I use some of the same techniques you use as well. I also like to wrap the grip area with 1/8" poly rope and install a wrist strap on some sticks. Then I apply (at least) two coats of marine spar varnish. I've been making these for several years. I give them to fellow walkers and hikers and donate them to nonprofit groups for their fundraiser projects.

    I keep a small folding saw and gloves in my vehicle at all times and stop roadside when homeowne s have branches out for pick-up by localities to get 'candidates'. Not every branch that I bring home works out. The rejects mane it to the fire ring.

    I've attached a couple pics showing some of my sticks. Enjoy!


    5 years ago

    Look into monkey vines in rainforest areas.What do you mean by "

    My interests range the full spectrum, but is always willing to help." Are you trying to say you are always willing or your interest is wide?