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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi...I have a few "wood" questions that I'd love some guidence on. The last couple weeks Ive been out in the woods gathering some potential walking stick and cane materials. They say a year per inch on the drying so I've gathered a few different species with the goal of making multile hiking-type sticks....some to be carved, some to be burned/decorated, and some to just plain sand and finish. I've picked up sassafras, a red barked pine (not native I don't think), oak, maple, black walnut, black locust, hazelnut,a few unknowns, and ailanthis. Assuming that I eventually stop the bleeding from these catbriar scratches I will set these up to dry for the winter. So here's my questions:

1) which wood species would you say would be best for the finishing...the burning...or the carving?

2) I have some specimens that need a little bit of straightening for my liking.....once secured to a rigid board and wedged up to remove some of the "wow", will the wood dry straighter you think?

Again, I appreciate any help/opinions...I'm very green. I plan to fiddle with some basswood and easier carving stuff while these dry........thanks.......Glenn
 

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Glenn: I'm not a burner or much of a carver -- so I'm not sure I can help you much in that area, however, we have several on the forum who excel in both those areas and I'm sure you will hear from them in time!

I like the Hardwoods for finishing!!

I tend to search for straight woods -- however I have dabbled a little with heat straightening, and will one day experiment with steam -- I would actually like to try some wood bending!
 

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You're on your way,,,,,hopefully you'll keep us posted. The best way to tell is dry 'em out and work it.

I pick a stick, skin it, beat it against a tree and if it survives all that( and still looks good), I dry it out.
 

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Hi, Glenn,

See you're new here, and new to stick making. I've been working at making sticks for a couple of years now, and find new things to learn continuously. And then there's that pesky thing called practice. Amazing how much sawdust and shavings appear between inspiration and completion.

The first sticks I gathered were almost all from trees or branches that had been a dead a year or two. Most were pretty well cured. But I learned that the reason a lot of trees go down is rot and bug infestation. And that the stress of falling can produce cracks deep in the wood. While most of what I gather is from freshly fallen storm damaged trees, I've learned to examine them carefully, give 'em a whack, and pass on any that don't feel solid.

Give the wood as much time as you can to cure. I've found that if I have a stick that is 4 - 6" longer than needed, once the ends check, I can cut those away, and have a solid piece of wood. Only had one failure doing that, and I stopped the new checking w. a bit of CA glue.

My preference for hiking sticks are tougher hard woods. Currently slowly working on some hornbeam, and have some hickory and osage orange waiting. After working the hornbeam, white oak seems easy to shape. Beech and hard maple are fairly plentiful where I live, and both make good strong sticks.

I do use much lighter woods, too. Sassafras and sycamore are plentiful where i live. What I've found is that the toughness of the wood varies from stick to stick. Saplings that have grown rapidly in full sun light are less sturdy than ones that grew slowly in shade. Older branches are typically more stiff. You can look at the end grain. If the rings are thick, rather than thin, the wood will not be very strong. If I can bang a stick's shaft straight down onto concrete, and it flexes much at all, I don't consider it strong enough for hiking. If there is a little flex, or the flex diminishes with shortening, then its OK for a walking stick.

My experience w. burning is minimal, and I've never tried bending, so I can't offer much there.

As far as carving goes, the tighter the grain, the easier it is to get fine shapes and avoid tear out. At the soft end, bass wood is ideal. Many pines have such long fiber that tho' they are soft, accidents tearing out long splitters can happen frequently.

Good sharp tools are necessary for any project.

When I started, I used the standard methods I'd been taught for simple wood working. Once in a great while I'd sand to finer than 220 grit. Now 600 is standard. I always used common stains and urethane varnishes, or sometimes a tinted varnish. Maybe add a coat of paste wax. Yesterday, I spent a couple of hours reading over how to use shellac, and I'm searching for a local source for pure tannin so I can get a better ebonized finish on some oak. I suspect I'll never really learn enough about finishing.

At any rate, its a fine practice. Wood is often beautiful by itself, and making something that is useful and looks nice is a decent way to spend time.
 

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Welcome Glenn!

I'll answer your second question first. Yes the usually dry straight if you adjust them green and board them. I usually just bend them over my knee if they aren't too thick while green then lay them up.

Your first question is kind of loaded as it depends not totally on the species but the condition/coloring/grain pattern of the chosen sticks. All of those can be carved, some easier than others. Burning on darker woods isn't usually too productive since it relies on contrast. And all of those can be finished in a miriad of ways that produce nice sticks. I know that isn't too helpful, but really it boils down to what you want as an end result, then choose the stick. (Photos help too ) :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
"I know that isn't too helpfull..."

ah, one good thing about being new is EVERYTHING someone with more experience says can be helpful.

Darker wood..contrast...burning.......ya, kinda obvious so why didn't I think that? LOL.....thanks.

So...looks like I'll be spending the weekend stripping and securing and storing.......and the winter futzing around on practice woods and reading. I appreciate the info guys................Glenn
 

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The best way of straightening shanks is to steam them when there cured just pop them over a boiler let the steam do its work then pop them into a vice(or vise) i think you call it. let it cool them it will be impregnated in the shanks memory and will always stay straight. If you need to tweek a shaft just use a hot air gun like you use for stripping wallpaper or bruning paint off make sure you dont s burn the wood then bend it on your knee or pop into the vice,its very efffective.You can always use a jig if its really bent.Will post a pic of the jig i made when tweeking sticks. just heat up the area you want to treat. its quite simple when you tried it once or twice
 

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a few pics of jig just make sure the jig is firmly attached to the vice .I think this was turned form a piece of mahogany shelf by a friend just slip the shank in to jig where it needs shaping either hold for a while aftre heating it or clamp the shank into the position you want.

Wood Table Wood stain Hardwood Art

Wood Hardwood Wood stain Table Natural material

Wood Natural material Tool Hardwood Trunk
 

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Glen,

I. Most suitable woods... how long is a piece of string? Depends on individual taste nad also on availability. Here in Ireland the most frequently used woods are Balckthorn, Hawthorn, Ash, Holly and Birch.

2. Straightening... I never understand why some much time and effort is expended on straightening shanks. They are never going to be used as billiard cues and they lose much of the unique characteristics that nature provided. For me you can't beat a well finsihed walking stick that has been allowed to retain its own individuality.

Regards.

Paddy
 

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Glen is right about suitable wood,However I think if a stick is straight it gives it moe strenght any flaw or bend in it thats the place it will snap if enough pressure is applied , but its a personnel; preferance 'If you plan to carve straight onto the stick ar rotary tool is very useful.I always draw a template out the cut it , lay ontyo the wood, .or place ir onto the stick if its a toppoer to ensure the balance of the finished item looks okay.. Some times i model a pieces very quickly and stick it on top just to get the feel of what i am trying to achieve.

Some woods are heavy and feel clunsy in the hand woods like birch and oak .My preferanc is for hazel, blackthorn,chestnut.But it is a preferance but you have access to a bigger variety of wood in the states,try them all

But you can ask a hundred people and you will always get different ideas its what suits you.

There are some great american wild fowl books they even have ready made templates to use which gives a good guide it is however a only a guide,Its always better to follow your own insticts and make modifications to suit you.But dont restrict yourself look into items that interest you and develop those
 
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