Making a walking stick

Last Update: December 18, 2014

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.


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rocr7 Premium
That's so cool! Will you be selling these on your website?
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veteran Premium
I don't know Rico. If anyone wants a stick making, then I'll see what I can do.
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rocr7 Premium
Any chance you can whip me up a handull of them and get them to me by Christmas? Haha.

Serioulsy though , those are cool. Not in my budget right now (nothing is!) but I would love to purchase one from you some time in the future.

...r
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veteran Premium
Thanks for this Rico. Have you ever tried making your own ? I recommended this book to another WA member, and it's called Stickmaking - a complete course, revised edition, by Andrew Jones and Clive George. The revised edition is larger than a former edition, with larger templates, should you wish to make your own. It is available on Amazon, should you wish to purchase a copy.
Regards,
Alastair.
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rocr7 Premium
Hey, thanks so much! I will check it out. I love to hike and get a lot of miles in during the summer months. Would be nice to have something to steady with in rough terrain.
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veteran Premium
You are so right Rico. I always have a stick with me when I'm out for a hike. Interestingly, a lot of dog - walkers use sticks here. They are so useful for moving aside things like brambles and nettles that may impede the pathway.
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rocr7 Premium
Never really thought of that. We have a lot of nettles in my neck of the woods, along with other various and sundry plants that stick, sting or make you itch. Bet those are real handy for that. :)
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veteran Premium
Yes they are Rico. I often see camera mono pods that are described as hiking sticks. They are useful for photography insofar as they are telescopic, but most of them seem rather flimsy to me for the role of hiking sticks. I did try one for a while, but it snapped when a bit of pressure was exerted on it, which is no good at all really.
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JewelCarol Premium
This looks cool and a great hobby. :)
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Marith Premium
Great work, looking forward to see the fnished product.
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veteran Premium
Thank you Marith.
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WKnoepp Premium
That's kind of a nice hobby. Should do well in relieving the daily grind.
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veteran Premium
Hello Werner. Yes, I enjoy making hiking and walking sticks and have done for many years. I'm going to cut some sticks soon, and when they've seasoned for maybe two or three years, then I can make them into something.
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danbarth87 Premium
Awesome!
Great job on that so far.
Please let us see it when it is finished.
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veteran Premium
Thanks for the encouragement Dan.
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