The Moses Staff




Introduction: The Moses Staff

About: KanPo Studios is a mixed media studio where its foundation is to experiment new ideas in techniques applications and promote and encourage others to create art with their hands, minds, and hearts !

One of my clients approach me with an idea to do a biblical staff for her living room wall after seeing my portfolio on Sci Fi and Fantasy staves and canes.

I took them on the offer and the Moses Staff was born.

Typically, I designed and carve all staves and canes the way this instructable will show. Because it isn't a cane commission, you will not see the connection between the crown handle and the cane.

The Moses Staff is one complete piece.
Here is Moses story.

Step 1: The Disclaimer.

I'm a firm believer that safety is our #1 priority in woodworking. Instead of reinventing a disclaimer, I'll use the one by Steve Ramsey. Steve has a beautiful YouTube channel - Highly recommended for anyone involved with wood.

Disclaimer : These presentation are intended for entertainment and inspiration. Woodworking is dangerous. Always seek professional advice and training before using any power tools.

If you have any uncertainty before performing any woodworking procedure STOP and learn a safer method.

Do not attempt anything simply because you saw it in one of my presentations.

Summary : Be smart, use common sense, and respect your power and hand tools.

All right ! Lets Rock 'N Roll ! ! !

Step 2: Childhood of Moses.

Consideration of three superb
wood species :
* Oak
* Maple
* Mahogany

The client wanted a "white" wood for her living room.

Maple was chosen as the winner.
High honor mention for the others.

Basketball courts, dance floors, bowling alleys are made out of maple.

It's the state tree in four states in the USA.

Step 3: Materials.

Possible list of materials :
You might have some of them already:

* Wood staff blank
* Flat and round files
* Rotary tool
* Marking pen
* Safety goggle
* Dust mask
* Thumb guard
* Carving knives
* Wood stains
* Brushes for stains
* Varnish
* Tape measure for layout design
* Rubber boot

This are the basics to complete the staff.

Step 4: 1-3/8".

The maple staff is 1-1/2 inches square and 5 feet tall.

It will reduced to 1-3/8" round.

A marking pen is your best tool to start planning your design.

The top part of the staff you see on the table is Gandalf, the wizard, from Lord of The Rings. It is one piece.

Step 5: Roughing It Out.

The roughing stage of the carving is accomplished with three tools :

* Nicholson flat file which I'm holding in the photo.
* Nicholson round file.
* Dremel rotary tool with an 1/8" flat end round bit.

Step 6: Drafting the Design.

The staff has a vast amount of carving space. We need to fill that up.

The design will include :

* Pillar of Fire where God stop the Egyptians in the Red Sea.

* Moses' sandal.

* The Ten Commandments.

* The Burning Bush plus text.

* Lillie's of the fields flowers

Step 7: Relax & Concentrate.

When carving be cool, calm, and collected. Back posture extremely important.

Avoid lower back pains. Carving a staff or a cane means being hunch in a (sometimes) irregular seating position.

If experiencing discomfort, you have at least 3 options :

* See a medical physician.
* See a chiropractor or
* See a massager.

Safety is our #1 priority.

Step 8: Preferences.

The carver has a preference of two carving styles :

* Hand (traditional) carving
* Power (electrical) carving

I'm a hybrid - so I combine both styles for speed and commission datelines.

The crafting workbench you see here is an instructable. We all need a draft horse like the Clydesdales : strong and long lasting. That's our workbenches.

All rotary tools are mini routers. Use extremely in handling them.

When power precision carving, always use your second thumb to stabilize the rotary tool. It helps to prevent kickbacks.

Step 9: Technology.

I use a Nicholson round file to make the grooves for the hand grip.

Although I'm a firm believer of high technology, it's my tendency to be a bridge to preserve the old (muscle) and the new (power).

Sure, you can round off the square staff at the beginning with a lathe and carve the grooves with one also. I don't like to produce fine sawdusts in my studio. Try to minimize as much as possible. I don't like that type of cleaning. Your lungs will love you for it in the long run.

When working with wood, there's two environments. If you design cabinets, furniture, etc, you have a workshop.

If you design sculptures, artworks, murals, mosaics, crafts, etc, then you have a studio.

KanPo Studios is a studio. Makers might and will have a terminology of their own when describing exactly what to name the description of their working habitat. Hah !

Knowing and seeing the difference between the two will dictate (sometimes) what type of tools and machinery to have in them.

Step 10: The Pillar of Fire.

The pillar of fire that stop the Pharaoh's army already carved on top of the staff.

The pillar of fire was knife-cut with a X-Acto #2 knife with a #23 blade.

But first, the spirals were cut with a Dremel 1/4" flat end round bit to make it easier with the follow up blade work.

This is a perfect example of combining the old technology (muscle) with the new (power).

Step 11: The Grip.

The hand grip completely carved.

Step 12: The Ten Commandments.

To me, the following cinematic quote from Cecil B. Demille's narration of Moses in the desert of the 1956 film, The Ten Commandments, has always represented the metaphor between the maker (you) and his/her prime material of choice, whether it's wood, metal, plastic, masonry, paper and so on.

It represent how God designed, drew, sculpted, carved, molded, shaped, cut, constructed, sandblasted the young prince of Egypt into one of the greatest prophet in human history.

For bible quoters, this text is not from the Bible, but from Cecil B. Demille's narration of the film . . .

" into the blistering wilderness, the man who walked with kings now walks alone. Torn from the pinnacle of royal power, stripped of all rank and earthly wealth, a forsaken man without a country and without hope, his soul is in turmoil.

Like the hot winds and raging sands that lash him with the fury of a taskmaster's whip, he is driven forward, always forward by a God unknown for a land unseen into the molten wilderness, where granite sentinels stands as towers of living death to bar his way.

Each night brings the black embrace of loneliness. In the mocking whisper of the wind, he hears the echoing voices of the dark.

His tortured mind wonders if they call the memory of past triumphs or wail forebodings of disasters yet to come, or whether the desert's hot breath has melted his reason into madness.

He cannot cool the burnish kiss of thirst upon his lips, or shade the scorching of the sun. All about his desolation. He can neither bless nor curse the Power that moves him, for he does not know from where it comes.

Learning that it can be more terrible to live than to die, he is driven onward, through the burning crucible of desert, where only men and prophets are cleansed and purged from God's great purpose.

Until at last, at the end of human strength, beaten into the dust from which he came,


Here we see Moses receiving the tablets.

" The Finger of God "
is a 1/16" ball engraver bit.

Step 13: Moses Sandal.

The inside of the rubber boot (sandal) is one inch deep by one inch in diameter.

Step 14: Accuracy

Accuracy in marking is very important as we see in the next step . . .

Step 15: Rubber Padding.

This marking establishes the total height of the staff at 60.25 inches.
That ".25" is the rubber padding on the bottom of the sandal.

Step 16: The Second Thumb.

It also mark where we need to start shaving for the comfort of the sandal.

This step is a trial effort which is done very slowly.

We don't want to cut too much wood where the sandal will slip off the staff. It should have a snug fit.

I can't stress more than enough the importance of that second thumb when carving.

Here you see the second thumb pushing the cut. The knife hand is guiding and directing.

The second thumb is the actor in a moving scene while the knife hand is the director calling the shooting scene.

Makers, these knives needs to be razor, razor sharp. Dull carving knives are dangerous.

Step 17: Shaping Tools.

We are using a Nicholson round file to create a nice and smooth circumference for the sandal.

Shaping tools like files and rasps of all kinds make excellent carving tools.

Step 18: The Sandal.

If the sandal fit - wear it !

This rubber boots comes in various sizes and are found in local home centers and medical supplies stores.

Sometimes cane and staff users drill a secret compartment in this area.

What can you store in there ?

Just think about it. I use my secret compartment for a pen knife. I use it as a pointer for presentations in schools and to cut patterns or magazine articles and pictures away from home.

Step 19: Mount Sanai.

At this phase, we'll concentrate our efforts in carving the burning bush and the lilies of the fields .

The depth of the low relief burning bush and the lilies is 1/8 ".

The text was engraved 1/16" with a diamond point bit.

Drawing patterns have their purpose for a reason. Never trust your memory to remember complex themes.

Step 20: Nerve of Steel.

When precision carving turns and angles like this, use extreme sharp knives.

This knives pictured here are used by neurosurgeons in the medical industry. Different handles but the steel is the same.

Sometimes commissions are time retrain that I don't have time to sharpen blades.

Use them - disposed of them safely. They come in packages of 100 blades.Other package options are available. Local home centers has them in packages of 5 blades. Check your local remote control hobby store, they might have the bulk packages. Those remote control hobbyists run out of hobby knives like a bat out of hell - extremely fast at warp drive 6 !

When using surgical blades always make sure, absolutely make sure you have complete control.

A deep cut, no matter at what angle of entry, can easily land you at your local hospital and come out with a couple of stitches.

Again, check out the second thumb as a stabilizer. Using this technique is always a runaway bestseller !

Step 21: Solar Physics.

For the burning bush, we are going solar physics. We want the granule appearance we see on the Sun's surface.

We are developing a counterpoint between the flames and the lilies. The flames grainy and the lilies smooth.

The roughness of the background cuts will disappeared. The textured background will be a stippling effect.

Step 22: Stippling.

In carving, stippling is the creation of a pattern in a given area to simulate shading by engraving small dots. In drawing, you create "points or tiny tiny dots with a pencil, pen or other mechanical instruments.

In this case, we will create a beautiful stained stippled background against the flames and the lilies.

Step 23: A Dot Within a Dot.

Let's make it even more complex by engraving dots at the center of the bigger dot.

The fuzziness will disappear with a super light sanding and with the stain and varnish application.

Step 24: No Wiping Please.

First of two coats of dark mahogany stain. Fancy brushes not required. Local home centers and craft stores will have them.

Be aware that stain will "bleed" to adjacent areas. We need to clean those areas later with knife work when the stain is dry. No wiping here folks. Completely different procedure. The details are too minute in scale.

Staining minute details like the Moses Staff or other staves and cane commissions takes plenty of time !

You got 82.84 square inches to do TWICE ! ! !

Hah !

Step 25: Fantasy Collection.

Part of the starring cast of characters from left to right :

*Battlestar Galactica Commander Adama's cane. (Mr. Olmos version)

* Saruman's Staff.

* Baby Thor's hammer (1st version).

* Moses staff.

* Mary's scepter.

* The windlord - Gwaihir , from Lord of The Rings.

* Gimli - the dwarf, from Lord of The Rings.

Step 26: Moses

Moses' name is engraved 1/16th depth with an 1/8" ball point bit and highlighted with black acrylic paint. The complete staff has three coats of marine varnish.

Step 27: The Crest.

A cloud during the day,
a pillar of fire during the night.

Step 28: Metal Grip

Those fine point of metal on the grip is aluminum wire # 18 gauge.

Step 29: Temp Base.

For photographic purposes, this is only a temporary base. The real base, which is being carved in the present time is going to have Scotland coat of arms to represent the client's ancestry.

Step 30: Lillie's Details.

The client's favorite flower is the lilies of the field carved in all its glory.

Step 31: Commandment 1

First set of commandments.
The channel was engraved 1/8" deep with a 1/8" flat head round bit.

The motifs around the inside wall of the channel was engraved with a 1/16" diamond point.

Step 32: Commandment 2

Carving the second set of the commandments was very very tricky.
one slip up and kiss that tablet goodbye.

Don't drink alcoholic beverages before carving.

Don't eat a heavy meal before carving.

This activities makes you sleepy and sluggish and your mind begins to wander on other things beside the carvings.

If a friend or family comes over to chat, stop and consider two things : Cater to your friends or family or the carving. You cannot do both at the same time.

At this stage of the game there's no room for errors. This is a client's staff (not yours) and you are running against the tyranny of that clock on the wall : A Dateline.

Step 33: Depth of Tablet.

It makes you feel good when a client drives 100 miles for your staff carving.

Step 34: Back Plate for Base.

What I use to hang the staff or cane to the base (unless the client wants another hanging procedure), I use simple metal clothes wire. You got plenty of them in your wardrobe.

Step 35: Flame Detail.

Flames are very hard to visualize when carving. Water, oceans, rivers and specially clouds are tricky.
Good luck with them ! Hah !

Step 36: Water Symbol.

The client left this part of the design for my creative juices. Confidence from a client says a lot about your work.

This emblems represent water symbols that were present around Moses' extraordinary achievements.

Thank you Instructable makers for your viewing and comments.

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    Question 1 year ago on Introduction

    Many bless8ngs iam a lakota sioux. Wounded warriorr 1968 battle of ka shana. Purpleheart usmc. Vietnamn vet. Iam 8nteres3d in your moses staff. How do I go about buying one iam using my womans I pad. I pray for everything that walks in breathes from the 4 corners of the universe thank you. Mato bear telphone. 402. 359 5279


    7 years ago on Introduction

    oow lovely and lots of work on this one...very nice...well done...

    Old Coot Papa
    Old Coot Papa

    7 years ago

    Great, thanks a lot! I make walking sticks all the time. Now you've got me itching to actually carve an actual staff! I don't have time for that! Just ask my wife.

    KanPo Studios
    KanPo Studios

    Reply 7 years ago

    Hi Old Coot Papa !
    Make an inheritance staff for your grandkids.
    It will be with them for generations.
    My inheritance staff is 7 feet tall filled Birds, mountains and old forest wood spirits.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Great work, I have made several staff´s over the years but never to this detail. All mine get used out in the field, (or forests, where ever i happen to be hiking)

    KanPo Studios
    KanPo Studios

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Hi Fibrowalker !
    The majority of them are decorative.
    Specially in the sci fi and fantasy.

    I've done a couple for pastors and bishops.

    Check out my Youtube videos : bastones boricuas.
    There you'll see some variation of a given themes set to music.
    Thanks for the viewing Fibrowalker.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    That's great, I've been wanting to make a staff for a while now and your instructable makes me want to try it even more. I don't want to set the bar as high as yours to start with though.

    KanPo Studios
    KanPo Studios

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Hi Fourstc !
    Thanksvfor the comments.
    For inspirations on other staves and canes check out my YouTube channel : Bastones Boricuas . You can make them any size you want. My Baby Thor Hammer is 16 inches. The Baby Thor hammer is of mahogany and the handle is an oak dowel from Home Depot. They are really fun to make.

    KanPo Studios
    KanPo Studios

    7 years ago

    Thanks Jlepack.
    Your instructables are excellent.
    The Harley clock is giving me some ideas for a future instructables. Thanks for the viewing and comment.


    7 years ago

    You do amazing work.