How to Make Your Own Walking Stick
Walking sticks are excellent tools to add to your stock of accessories. They can impact the body positively in several different ways. You can use them for medical treatment, adventure-seeking, or as a defensive device. Interestingly, crafting a walking stick is easy and less costly.
Even under a tight budget, you can have a unique, elegant, and sturdy walking stick that will be the talk of the town. Just like any success in life, you'll have inner joy when you craft your own walking stick. Yes, it will highlight your creative flair and boosts your pride.
The entire process of making a walking stick offers an exciting and rewarding experience. In this guide, I’ll walk you through thirteen actionable steps you can follow to design a custom walking stick that will compete with the store ones. Together, let’s explore the following steps:
- Step One—defining your purpose
- Step Two—assembling your tools
- Step Three—sourcing your wood
- Step Four—choosing your wood
- Step Five—trimming your wood
- Step Six—whittling the wood’s bark
- Step Seven—curing your wood
- Step Eight—sanding your wood
- Step Nine—wiping your wood
- Step Ten—decorating your walking stick
- Step Eleven—protecting your walking stick
- Step Twelve—varnishing your walking stick
- Step Thirteen—gripping and looping
Let’s get started on our fun activities!
Since nature is orderly, you must start with the “first things first” principle. To make the finest walking stick, you must decide the kind or type you need. There are several of them available, and they serve specific purposes. Why do you need a walking stick? An answer to this question would create a vivid image of the device you want, and it would open your mind to more ideas. With this hurdle out of the way, you’ll be on an exciting trip with your project.
It’s time to organize your tools. These handy tools will help you craft a workable walking stick. Luckily, these simple machines are affordable and easy to find in most stores across the world. Again, some of you may readily have most of them at home. For safety, efficiency, and timely completion of work, you need the following essential equipment:
- Box cutter
- Clean rag
- Electric jigsaw
- Engineer file
- Heat gun
- Sharp knife
The fun but most challenging part of the project is where to get to the woods. Though you can find woods at many places, the forest offers the best natural source for finding free sticks. While searching for your lumber, be mindful of protecting nature.
You can either use dried or fresh woods. Most people like the dried woods because they are ready to make walking sticks. To protect Mother Nature, avoid cutting saplings from a live tree. You can find a freshly fallen branch when you search long enough. Keep in mind that fresh sticks take a longer time to cure.
The quality of your walking stick depends upon your choice of wood. To be on the safest side, search for hardwoods instead of soft ones. Hardwoods will give you a sturdy and elegant end product. On the other hand, softwoods do not offer a better finishing and are prone to breakages. A few of the hardwoods you must consider are:
- Walnut, etc.
In choosing these woods, you should also consider the following key factors to ensure you are using the best wood for your walking stick:
The height of your stick is paramount. Always go for a straight wood that extends from your wrist bone to the floor. When making a hiking stick, the optimum height should be from the floor to your shoulder level. Never compromise on this crucial factor because it determines how comfortable your walking stick will be.
This factor is a two-edged sword. The presence of insect infestation can impact the strength, quality, and beauty of your walking stick. Depending on the intensity of the bite, it can be negative or positive. A plank of wood with a bit of insect feasting can offer a unique design to your final product. However, you need to be mindful of this symptom and avoid it if you can find an alternative raw material.
Like insect infestation, a knot can also ruin or reign the quality of wood, directly impacting your walking stick. A robust, thick wood with knots can offer unique patterns to your walking stick. However, its downside outweighs its benefit. These joints are difficult to sand and are signs your walking stick will break under severe pressure. It’s prudent to avoid knots.
The thickness of your chosen wood will define how long your walking stick will last. Therefore, the choice of the wood’s diameter should correspond to your weight, strength, and the usage of the walking stick. For optimum results, go for wood with enough thickness and roundness.
I recommended using fallen and dried woods because of their positive impacts on the environment and the walking stick. However, you must apply critical thinking here. A fallen wood that has stayed for long, lost its moisture content, and brittle is not suitable for a walking stick. To test the strength of the wood, insert one end into a crotch of a tree and exert some pressure at the other end. A durable wood that’s ideal for your project wouldn’t bend or break.
You've followed the steps above and found a lovely wood. It's time to cut the wood into the required length of your choice. When trimming out the excess branches, be careful not to get your hand into contact with the saw’s blade. You can use any available saw to do this task—handsaw, electric jigsaw, or keyhole saw. Should children be around, you must be extra alert.
At this stage, you need to get gentle on the wood. Before removing the bark, shave off any extra bumps and twigs around the wood. Afterward, from one end through to the middle of the wood, start removing the bark of the wood. You can use any convenient whittling tool—sharp knife, pocket knife, plane, etc. to get the task done. With a short, gentle stroke, keep shaving till all the layers get off, exposing the bright wood under the layers.
While you can move to the next stage with dried woods, it's highly advisable to dry any fresh lumber. Factors like weather conditions and wood type would influence the drying period. Sometimes, it can take a longer time. You need the patience to cure your wood correctly.
Also, you’ve to turn it from time to time to ensure a fair curing process. You can hang it up in a cool dark place for the best result, preferably a garage. Always aim for rigidity and not brittleness.
You’re going to aim for smoothness at this level. With good sandpaper, smooth down any knot before moving to the shank. Gradually, start with 100 grit sandpaper, 200 grit, and 400 grit to ensure a smooth surface.
Disk sander or hand sander can perform this task equally well. Frequently rub your fingers along the surface to feel the wood’s texture. Keep sanding till the wood becomes perfectly smooth with no rough edges.
Wiping Your Wood:
After sanding, some residue of the sawdust would remain on the walking stick. It's advisable to use a clean rag to wipe off the dust from the surface of your artifact. Perform this task gently to ensure no dirt is left on your walking.
Everyone has a unique identity. At this stage, you're at liberty to decorate your walking stick to fit your personality. You can start by adding a unique handle to the top of your staff. You can take inspiration from other walking sticks on the market. It's not uncommon to find handles like a crutch, derby, petite, anatomic, crook, and fischer.
Instead of handles, you can also personalize the top of your walking sticks with creative heads of lions, fishes, horses, eagles, snakes, bears, etc. You’re limited only by your creative mind and the ability to carve such shapes. You can add your name, initials, and other symbols to the shank.
You can either stain or leave your walking stick in its natural state. If you decide to stain your stick, follow the instructions on the package. There are several stain colors in the store, so ensure you know the best color that suits the wood you've chosen. You must perform this activity in a well–ventilated area.
Also, don't forget to use protective gadgets—gloves, nose masks, glasses, etc. Again, consider applying either polyurethane or varnish as a protective coating to your stick. To avoid strokes forming on your stick, use quality brushes. Afterward, let it dry thoroughly.
You’ve invested a lot of time and other resources into this project. So it’s wise to protect your creation from rotting, cracking, and splitting. To do this, you must safeguard the base. The base is the part of the walking stick that will receive tremendous pressure and shock.
You can use a rubber stopper, cap, or copper pipe to secure the base. To fasten the copper pipe to the end of the stick, apply some adhesive—wood glue or epoxy resin into the fitting. Using a mallet, fix the base of the walking stick into the copper pipe. Clean any spilled off and dry it.
The last stage is to grip and loop your walking stick. This choice is entirely up to you. If you prefer a hanger on your walking stick, then you need to consider the material you want to use. There are several options—cord, hemp, leather, nylon, twine, fabric strap, etc.
To add a hand grip, start at the grip area. Get a sizeable length of robe, about 15 cm long; secure it vertically with any fastener—glue, pins, or small nails along the walking stick. Now, from top to bottom, wrap your preferred material completely to cover the glued area. Finally, tie it off at the base where the robe ends.
Thus, your wrapping should cover the 15 cm length. To have a secure loop, drill a hole through your walking stick, slightly above the grip region. Then, let your looping material pass through the hole and tie it into a loop. You’re ready to hang your walking stick for storage and protection.
Bringing Down the Curtains:
Congrats! You’ve made it to the finishing line. You’ll agree with me that making a walking still isn’t hard. Instead, it's a lengthy process requiring patience, time, and safety precaution to get the work done. I firmly believe that the time invested is worth the experience and the gadget.
In your search for quality woods, you must keep in mind to protect the environment. Mother Nature needs all and sundry to continue blessing us with her abundance. Always make it a habit to source for fallen woods instead of cutting fresh ones from live trees.
No matter the difficulty of finding such woods, there’s always the possibility of locating one when you search long enough. Also, never forget to wear your protective clothing when making your walking stick. Your safety is as important as the protection of the forest. Let’s be alive!