Making a walking stick
As one or two members have shown an interest in my forays into the stick - making world, I thought I would write about one that I'm in the process of making.
The shank is Hazel, and the handle is English Elm, a very hard, durable wood that should give many years service. I'm using Asian Water Buffalo Horn for the collar, a popular horn for use in stick - making. Although to some eyes, Elm may appear rather bland, it is one of my favourite woods.
The fact that a huge amount of mature Elms succumbed to Dutch Elm disease, means that many parts of the country are now devoid of these magnificent trees. The wood however, has not been entirely wasted, and can often be purchased from suppliers of woodworking materials.
You will notice the orientation of the grain in the handle, which is so positioned in order to give maximum strength in the finished item. Having the grain in any other direction in this case would cause a potential weakness . Some people fit a hardwood dowel into the handle to give additional strength, and done correctly it really wouldn't be noticeable. I haven't done that in this case, as I don't deem it necessary.
I do however, fit the Hazel by means of a spigot that I shape out of the thicker end of a naturally tapered length of Hazel, and this spigot fits into the handle to a depth of three inches.The overall length of the spigot is around four inches, to allow for the fitting of the collar. The spigot is three quarters of an inch in diameter. Some people fit a wooden handle to the shank by means of a steel rod, but I much prefer the traditional method that I've used here.
At this stage, the handle has been drilled, and along with the collar and brass spacers it is then fitted to the shank with epoxy glue - the only adhesive worth considering for this type of work, in my opinion.
I have started to shape the handle with a series of rasps and files, and I will finish it with abrasive paper to give a nice, smooth, splinter - free finish, along with the collar and spacers.
You will note that the stick has been held in the vice with rubber vice - guards. I have positioned the stick like this purely for taking the picture. When working on the shank and the handle, I will always use the rubber guards, but I will wrap the stick with leather in order to avoid damage to the bark of the shank, and position the work in the vice correctly, so that the full bite of the jaws will grip the stick firmly.
I will blog about the finished stick in good time, if anyone is interested.