Walkingstick Craft Making Walking "wood blanks" from natural good tree Sticks

Walkingstick Crafting and Making your Stick

Crafting a walkingstick may seem fairly straightforward yet the process remains often difficult. The initial idea of crafting a stick or cane begins with collecting a “blank” from a local source such as a forest or hedgerow. A blank exists as the starting block for crafting a walkingstick. It’s a long piece of straight wood collected from a natural source that’s then dried over a period of a year or more, before crafting turns the blank into a walkingstick.

Blanks usually come from Hazel, Birch, Cherry, Blackthorn, Ash, Oak and Holly. All of these woods make excellent walking sticks. Theses woods also make excellent walkingstick handles. Handle preparation is an essential part of making your walking stick and really is about personal choice as to what material you opt for.

A blank should ideally appear as straight as possible, which may seem obvious, but part of the art of crafting a walkingstick (or cane as there sometimes called) is locating a straight stick to begin with. It’s possible to artificially straighten blanks, but starting with a straight blank makes life a lot easier. In the ideal world of stick making straight blanks remain the best.

Tools Required for Making a Walking Stick

Tools you will need include:

  • Gloves for your personal protection
  • A small saw, folding wood types remain preferable
  • A small spade or shovel at get at root knobs (root knobs make excellent handles, especially when sourcing Blackthorn sticks)

Locating a straight blank remains the toughest part of walkingstick crafting. Searching amongst the many forest of your local area will reveal many sources, yet the sticks often appear bent beyond practical use. However keep searching, as you will find a great straight stick sooner or later.

Crafting a walkingstick video showing how to make

Walkingstick blanks

Twisting walkingstick blanks ready for work or drying
Twisting walkingstick blanks ready for work or drying

Finding "Blanks" for making a Walking Stick

The ideal time for locating and cutting your stick’s during the winter months. Through the winter no sap rises into the branches from the roots (where it resides to protect the tree) making the wood dryer and less prone to splitting. Cut the stick at a slant to protect the tree. The sloped cut edge on the tree will allow rainwater to run off, rather than pooling, which will potentially rot the tree.

Ideal locations include disused railway tracks and forests. As your chosen wood needs to compete with other trees for sunlight, it will shoot up quickly and relatively straight. Often hedges hide sticks that have naturally warped, becoming extremely cooked, and will not make suitable walkingsticks.

The final walkingstick length’s usually around 36" inches so cut 4"-6" inches each side as an extra to allow for splitting and shaping as necessary. You will always cut the walkingstick later on to a suitable length.

Curing a stick and looking for handles

Identify the tree and look at all angles to make sure the stick’s straight and free from marks or blemishes. Often a branch will rub against a stronger branch creating abrasions with a rough mottled area. This will unfortunately affect the natural finished beauty of your crafted stick.

Try to avoid branches that have strong sized offshoots as thick as the one you’re cutting. The knots will create a weakness to your stick. They may however provide good material for crafting walkingstick handles.

Drying your stick properly remains essential for crafting your walkingstick at a later stage. To cure your blank hang it straight from a piece of string in a cool dark place like a garage, ideally a constant temperature provides better, more effective cuing. Don’t lay your walkingstick blank flat as any weight will cause it to bow.

Leave smaller twigs about 2-3 inches from your main stick, if cut too short they will shrink into the stick over the curing period leaving a pock-marked stick.

Master walkingstick stickdresser craftsman at work

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Comments about crafting walkingsticks from blanks 11 comments

diogenes profile image

diogenes 5 years ago from UK and Mexico

Ha! I bet you'd like to get your hands on my "root!" Have to go to Mexico, though...Bob


Spirit Whisperer profile image

Spirit Whisperer 5 years ago from Isle of Man

What a great skill to have. It is obvious you know your stuff so if I ever need one I know where to go! Welcome to HP I hope you enjoy your experience here as much I do. Your profile is quite special and I look forward to following you.


johndwilliams profile image

johndwilliams 5 years ago from Essex England Author

Thanks Bob, Mexico is a little too far for me at the moment, I will have to make do with English Roots :)


johndwilliams profile image

johndwilliams 5 years ago from Essex England Author

Thanks Spirit,

Like many things in life I still learn. Thanks for the words of encouragement! here's to all of our good hubs

John


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

In the corner, a few feet from where I'm writing, leans an Irish walking stick (also known as a 'shillelagh') made from a shaft of blackthorn. It belonged to my maternal great grandfather, and was crafted in Ireland. It is at least one hundred years old and is quite beautiful.


itakins profile image

itakins 5 years ago from Irl

Interesting article :)


johndwilliams profile image

johndwilliams 5 years ago from Essex England Author

Amazing Will!

Gives me hope as I am crafting 3 Irish Blackthorns now - such an awesome wood..


johndwilliams profile image

johndwilliams 5 years ago from Essex England Author

Thanks itakins

Glad you enjoyed, thanks for reading


ardenfr profile image

ardenfr 4 years ago from Lubbock, Tx

Nice article. I did some pruning on my honey locust tree the other day and there might just be a branch that will work. Thanks for the inspiration!


johndwilliams profile image

johndwilliams 4 years ago from Essex England Author

Hey Ardenfr - Cool I hope you get many a good stick - I am not overly familiar with this tree, but like most wood for walking sticks it needs to dry a long time to become workable. Good luck with the prune!


Twilight Lawns profile image

Twilight Lawns 2 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

Loved it. Interestingly written.

Please tell me that I wasn't the only one who thought the videos were charmingly funny. They were a bit "Oh Arrr!"

I love watching all these "Country Pursuits" and "How to Make" videos. But Essex? Is there much of that going on there.

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