Are you up for sculpting a customized walking stick? Whether you love hiking or need one for extra support, carving a staff is relatively easy. However, before you learn how to carve a walking stick, you must have enough knowledge about the type of wood you choose.
Apart from that, you need to follow a few steps to make the stick durable and safe for use. In this article, you will get a complete guide to carving a walking stick all by yourself.
Rest assured, the stick will be a useful tool for balance, safety in the wild, and clearing your way. Moreover, you are going to be downright proud of yourself. Read on for the entire stick-making recipe!
Choosing the Right Wood for Carving a Walking Stick
Choosing the right wood is absolutely necessary for making a durable stick. The wood that you select must be hard enough and at least 1 inch in diameter. Besides, you can keep its length to that of your armpit’s, i.e., around 55-65 inches. This will allow enough space to be trimmed and shaped later.
Another point to remember is if you are choosing green woods, keep their length longer. That is because it is likely to crack or split from the top as well as bottom while shaping. Additionally, the stick that you pick must be thick enough from the top to let you carve a handle.
The best type of wood for a walking stick is the hardwoods. These are considerably thick and durable. Here are some of the top options:
Apart from that, you must ensure that the wood does not have holes or any signs of insects. Such sticks may have gotten weak due to pests or diseases. Also, try to get a straight stick as that will be easier to shave.
Tools to Carve a Stick
You need some basic tools to cut a branch and carve a walking stick.
- A small saw
- Spade or shovel
How to Carve a Walking Stick – Step by Step Guide
Once you have cut or picked the desired stick, it is time to shape it and carve your perfect walking stick. However, make sure you wear gloves and take other necessary precautions throughout the entire process. Here is a step-by-step guide for how to carve a walking stick.
Step 1: Trim the Stick
You need to shorten the stick according to your height. Hold it straight in front of you with its bottom touching the ground. Make sure to place your hand almost at a 90-degree angle, the height at which you would hold a walking stick. Add about two inches to that height and mark the area. You can now cut the staff using a saw.
On the contrary, if you are making it for someone else, cut it according to their height in a similar way. In case you do not know the specific measure, remember the ideal length of a walking stick is 55-65 inches.
Step 2: Smoothen the Staff
After having gotten the exact length, you need to smoothen or whittle the bark to ensure complete safety. At this step, you will trim or remove the twigs, bumps, or other protrusions. You can opt for a sharp knife or another whittling tool that you find comfortable.
You need to first remove all the twigs and then shave the bark to smoothen it. While doing so, always make sure you are whittling it away from your body as it may be dangerous. Alternatively, you may seek help from someone who has experience in this field.
Note: Make quick strokes and avoid digging the wood as that would make it uneven.
Step 3: Let It Dry
Unless you can find a completely dry piece of wood, you need to leave your stick to dry. Fresh wood may not be very durable and tough. Though the exact drying duration depends on several environmental factors and the type of wood, 15-30 days is mostly enough.
To let the stick dry well, you must hang it with a thread or clips inside a cool and dry place. The wood piece must harden when completely dry instead of being brittle. So, if it is still weak, you may need to wait longer.
Step 4: Customize Your Stick (Optional)
Though this is an optional step, it is also the most interesting one. You can create a handle of varying shapes or carve figures on the top area of the stick. If you wish to opt for something simpler, carving your name or initials is an excellent choice.
Step 5: Apply Wood Stain
Staining your wooden stick holds great importance as it helps you preserve the wood and extend its durability. Moreover, it also enhances the look of your stick. First of all, you will need to smoothen it further with sandpaper and wipe it clean using a soft cloth. It will help get rid of any remaining wood chips.
Next, you can start applying multiple layers of the wood stain as mentioned on the pack. However, make sure to let each one dry and sand before applying the next. After wood stain coating, you can use (or skip) 2-3 layers of urethane varnish for the perfect finish.
Note: Remember to wear gloves and conduct the staining process in a well-ventilated area.
Step 6: Attach a Grip
If you have not carved a handle, you can choose to add a rubber, nylon, or leather grip for comfort. Wrap the strip of fabric around the top area and secure it with pins or adhesive. You may also use a sticking grip that is used in badminton rackets.
Step 7: Safeguard the Base
The bottom of your walking stick is the most vulnerable section and might ruin pretty soon if not secured. Thus, adding an extra layer of protection at the lower tip is necessary. One of the best methods of this is by adding steel or hardened rubber caps. Alternatively, you can use a copper pipe for an elegant look as well as protection.
A walking stick is an essential tool if you are a hiking or walking enthusiast. And if you build one yourself, the love towards and satisfaction of using it will undoubtedly be a notch higher.
That said, though preparing a walking stick is not challenging, you certainly need to consider several factors. From choosing the right wood to curing and finishing—carving a stick requires patience, care, and alertness.
Now that you know how to carve a walking stick, make one yourself and use it with pride!