Intro: Compact Walking Stick
I made this project with the thought of travel in mind. I like to hike and I travel a lot with my work, so I needed an easy way to carry a walking stick without it taking up much space in the car. Plus I like the looks of a wooden stick better than the metal ones.
I entered this into the Outside contest, so if you like it please vote. Thanks!
Step 1: First Find a Straight Stick
After you have acquired a straight stick, I found this harder than I thought! So just try and find one as straight as you can.
The other things you will need are two hanger bolts, two hex key inserts or steel threaded 1/4" -20 inserts.
You'll need a drill, vice, sand paper of various grit, & a hex key to fit the inserts.
Also it would be good to have a washer and two nuts to be used to tighten the hanger bolt if you don't already have an attachment for them. A socket to fit the nut.
(Note: I forgot to mention if you cut a fresh walking stick, it will need to cure/dry for several days to a week or so, before starting this. Taking off the bark and letting it set in the sun will shorten this time frame.)
Step 2: Prep Work
Cut your stick to about your desired height. Then measure the total length and divide that by three. Mark these spots and that is where you are going to cut. It might help to also mark a vertical line before you cut, going the length of the stick about one inch long at the cut sight. This will help you know where to match the pieces back up to after they are cut.
Two cuts equal three pieces. Mark which is the top stick, middle, and bottom. This is important for when you want to put in the hardware and so the stick goes back the right way. Mark what is the top of the middle stick as well, so as not to be confused.
I found that it is better to cut your stick and then debark and sand, as it helps if you don't get the pieces perfectly lined up. I had already taken most of the outer bark off in these pictures. (learn as you go)
Now you can start by measuring and marking the center of the stick for drilling holes. Drilling holes is so that you don't split the wood when you add the hardware. Use a bit just smaller than the size of the bolt or insert, so that the bolt still grips the wood and doesn't just slide in.
Now secured one of the sticks with a vice. Warning: Make sure it is not going to slip! This can be dangerous. Also make sure you have a steady hand and don't push down to hard on the wood. Take your time and drill out the hole. Making sure you drill the hole straight or things wont line up right.
You will be only drilling one hole in the bottom of the top stick and the top of the bottom stick. Then the middle stick gets drilled in the top and bottom.
Step 3: Adding the Hardware
After you drill the holes in the sticks, you will then add a hanger bolt to the top stick, then a insert in the top of the middle stick so they can be joined together.Then do the same with the bottom of the middle stick adding a hanger bolt and then an insert into the top of the bottom stick.
HINT: I found that if you put a nut, then washer, and another nut on the hanger bolt it makes it easier to thread it into the wood. Remove them after you have the bolt in place. Just using pliers will mess up the threading.
Also be careful and take your time putting in the inserts, if you put to much pressure on them the top where the hex key will split. So if you are having trouble give it a few turns down and then back it out a little before turning it further down.
Also if you find that the stick isn't lining up with the vertical line you made before cutting, you can make adjustments by tightening either the hanger bolt or insert until it lines up.
Step 4: Sanding and Finishing
I have now made three walking sticks two I left natural and one I added stain to. But before we get to all of that, there is a lot of sanding to do. Put your stick together before continuing to the next step of sanding.
Like I mentioned before the stick needs to be debarked, then sanded using different grit of sand paper. I used a knife to take off most of the bark. Then used a ruff 40-60 grit sand paper working my way down to 150 fine grit. It just depends on how smooth you want your stick, how fine of grit you go.
I hand sanded the first stick, then used and electric sander some on the other two.
If not staining: Once you sand it to the smoothness you want you can either drill a hole near the top and add a wrist strap or you can make one that goes around the top. Your done!
Adding a wrist strap is optional. If I get a chance I'll write up an instructable on how to make one.
If you are going to stain: You'll need to take either a slightly damp or dry cloth and wipe off all of the dust on the stick, before you continue. Then choose your stain color and type. I used a stain and polyurethane in one. Then added a couple of coats. Follow the instructions on the stain so you know what to do in between coats.
You can add a rubber chair end cap to the bottom of the stick so it gets a better grip on smoother surfaces. You can also use a Velcro strap to hold the three pieces together.
Some may wonder about the stability of the stick, because of the cuts. I find that it holds up quite well. I have put all of my weight on it to cross (pole vault style) a ditch. The main thing is to have a stick that is as straight as possible, putting less stress on the joins. Either way it is best to test this out BEFORE going out on the trail where your safety may be at risk!