How to Make a Staff or Cane From a Found or Fresh Stick, and Carve It.




 This Instructable will show you how to make staffs, walking sticks, and canes out of wood you have found on the ground, and branches that you've broken, or cut off of trees.

If you get green wood off a tree, make sure to dry it first. de-bark it, and apply a sealant (varnish, wax, etc.) to the ends. 

Step 1: Materials and Tools.

 A stick

A knife
(murphy carver:,130,43332,43339)
(flexcut detail knife:,130,43332,43393)

Sand paper

strop with stropping compound (sort of optional, if you don't mind having dull knives...)

Gloves(also optional... helps with gripping the stick and protects your hands

Leather lap apron(optional. it helps protect your knees and legs if you are carving while sitting with the stick in your lap. i have a few pairs of pants with holes in them from before i got one of these...,130,43332)

Chisels(optional. they help quite a bit when you're carving things... you can do a lot of things that are hard to do or impossible with a knife with chisels.)

Step 2: Get a Stick.

find a stick, or cut one off a tree. if you cut one off a tree be sure to be respectful to the forest and don't take more wood than you need.

check to make sure there is no rotten patches on the wood you are about to take. if you are cutting  a branch from a tree, make sure you know which branch you want so that you don't have to cut off another one. If you see a bird's nest avoid the branch it's on, and try not to disturb it. If you see a branch that you would like to get in the future put a marker of some sort on it (brightly coloured tape, a piece of rope, string, etc.) and return later.

Also, make sure the wood you get is sturdy enough to be used as a cane or staff.

Step 3: Removing the Bark

 Use a knife to shave the bark off of the branch, or stick. Cut off any twigs that are sticking off.

if there is brown residue on the stick from the bark you will have to use your knife to shave it off.

Cut the stick to the length you want your staff or cane to be.

Step 4: Round Out the Tips of the Staff or Cane.

 use your knife to round off the bottom and top of the staff or cane the way it's shown in the picture.

Step 5: Sanding

 sand down the entire staff or cane until it is smooth enough so that if you slide your hand over it you wont get any splinters.

Step 6: Carving Designs, Faces, Animals, Etc. Into the Staff or Cane.

 this step is optional.

find a drawing of an animal, design, or a face(or you can draw your own) and copy it onto the staff in a way so that you can carve it into the staff.

you can find many ideas on the internet simply by searching "carved staff" in a search engine such as google.

I haven't posted a picture for this one because i haven't decided what to do with my staff yet....

make sure to keep your knife sharp and clean for this.

Step 7: Finishing

 this step is optional. some people like the look of "natural" wood. you can use paint, stain, varnish, linseed oil, etc. for this.

I left mine natural because i am going to carve it once i decide what to carve into it. i will probably leave it natural then anyway, because there are some nice looking knots, and "imperfections" in the grain of the wood that i like(picture below). =)

Step 8: Decorating Your Staff or Cane.

this step is optional.

you can add wire, metal bands, leather, or cloth to your stick to use as a grip, or as decoration. 



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    13 Discussions


    6 years ago on Step 8

    Thanks for posting this. I am a novice and these instructions are very easy to follow.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Nice simple Instructable.  I hope you will add some photos of the finished product when you are complete, or along the way.

    You might add that if you cut a piece of green wood, it should be aged a bit.  One way to do this is to strip off the bark, cut off any side branches or unwanted knots, then apply some melted paraffin or beeswax to the ends and cut-off knots.  This will help keep the branch from splitting as it dries.  Wood tends to lose most of its moisture through the cut ends. Since it is drying unevenly, the stresses cause it to 'check', the woodworker's name for those splits that start in the end and run through the wood.  Removing the bark helps moisture escape through the sides and the wax slows it down on the ends.  I have aged hundreds of branches this way.  It takes about a year on a rack, out of the weather to dry properly.

    2 replies

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    is there a best place to do this, in a warm place, cold place, dry place, moist place? what sort of temperature and humidity? also should it be standing up, laying down or suspended in the air? thanks


    8 years ago on Step 2

    That's a very good point, about being respectful.  I'd also say watch out for nesting birds and be sure to not disturb them.  If you see a really fine branch, leave a marker of some kind by the tree, and go back later in the season for it.

    1 reply

    9 years ago on Step 8

     if you have any suggestions for things to add to thisinstructable, and more ways to decorate a staff or cane feel free topost them.

    2 replies

    Reply 8 years ago on Step 8

     my dad has a walking stick with a line burned into it spiraling all the way down and he has burned in the years that he went camping in yosemite. done similarly to branding a cow


    Reply 8 years ago on Step 8

     that's really cool. if you have any pictures post 'em up.


    9 years ago on Introduction

     Happy one year anniversary of instructables membership!

    Great Instructable

    You might want to add a small amount of copper pipe to the bottom of your staff to prevent the wood from splitting

    3 replies

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    You can buy copper pipe end caps at a plumbing supply store.  One of those would make a great foot for a walking staff.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    and it took me this long to decide what to do for one instructable... haha.