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How to make a walking stick / staff?

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by trainyourhuman, Apr 18, 2006.

  1. trainyourhuman


    Apr 12, 2000
    My father is retiring soon and one of his / our favorite things to do is walk our dogs in the woods. Ever since I was little, he has always found a stick to use as a staff of some sort. So I was thinking that as a retirement gift I would make him a walking staff.

    Thing is, I don't know how.

    I have basic woodworking skills, and have built a bass from parts before. I have also built shelves and a coffee table.

    Has anyone out there done this? What woods? Carving? Lathe? Length?
  2. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
  3. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
  4. You don't have to actually "build" one if you have access to the woods. There are several species of wood that make good staffs and walking sticks. Just select a secondary branch that is long enough with the right diameter, trim the twigs off, and you've got it. Try looking for downfallen wood first - go after the live stuff as a last resort. The downed stuff will probably be drier than anything else and that aids in durability but it can be a pain to carve. Green wood is easier to carve but can split and crack after carving. Try some of these species...

    - Hickory or Pecan - genetically related, these are hard and stiff with a fairly course grain but they can be smoothed nicely for hand use.
    - Ash - they don't make baseball bats out this for nothing!
    - Any Pear - Bradford Pear, Sand Pear, etc. Pear wood is very hard, very dense and has a very fine grain making it great for carving.
    - Maple - for obvious reasons
    - Oak - not unlike hickory in grain and it's pretty easy to find.

    I've got a pear stick I've been using for the past 4 years and it doesn't even show signs of fraying on the end!

    And if your Dad is a shooter, find one with a little fork on the end to rest his long gun.
  5. trainyourhuman


    Apr 12, 2000
    Man, TB is awesome. Thanks guys.
  6. paintandsk8

    paintandsk8 Pushin' my soul through the wire...

    May 12, 2003
    West Lafayette, IN
    I do a fair amount of hiking and have several nice staff's. My nicest one was made by a mentor of mine when I received my eagle scout. It's a piece of cherry that was turned on a lathe. It has a grip section carved into it as well as several ornamental carvings. It also has metal emblems of all the scout ranks inlayed in a spiral pattern around the shaft. I'll have to take a picture sometime, it's really quite spectacular. My other favorite is an ironwood staff I have. We came across an ironwood tree when we were clearing some land so I harvested a nice branch. When it was still green I cut strips of bark out of the bottoms of the of the valleys and ridges that form on the surface of wood. It creates a really cool vein like pattern along the length of the staff. I use copper pipe caps for the tips on all my staffs to eliminate the fraying problem.
  7. Hey, you got one, too? Mine was made out of Yew wood (being that I'm an archer and all) so mine has a nice dual-color scheme to it.

    Rock on

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