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I've yet to do it myself (only made crooked sticks so far), but I know there are stick mates among us who nicely straighten sticks, often with steam. My questions are, for starters, when is a stick a candidate for steam straightening. Is it better for it to be green or dry, or at some point between the two conditions? Are there only certain specific types of sticks (like shepherd's canes) normally targeted for straightening (and associated specific wood species), and what are those? If you see someone like me walking with a crooked stick (perhaps because I'm ignorant about all the above) do you view me with horror, contempt, both, or neither? : ) Thanks in advance for your thoughts and knowledge.
 

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A stick should only be straightened after seasoning otherwise it will revert back to its original state .

A Shepard's crook just means that the handle is made of rams horn mostly the shank is hazel but not always.

The height of a crook usually between elbow to armpit height .Crooks are not normally used for walking sticks.. Originally they where designed to catch sheep by the neck

I hate to see a crooked stick it only takes a few minutes to straighten using steam or for a one of use a heat gun.( steaming is the best method) but I often use the heat gun.

you cannot straighten a shank if there is a dog leg ( a knot where its bent)

most woods can be straightened just ask a boat builder just use common sense
 

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As Cobalt said your stick sould be dry or seasoned before you try to straitghten it. You do not see alot of crook sticks in the states. but you should feel free to walk with any stick you have made and are proud of your work. I offen walk with a crook whole walking my dog. Never had any one say anything other than the liked it.
 
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
As Cobalt said your stick sould be dry or seasoned before you try to straitghten it. You do not see alot of crook sticks in the states. but you should feel free to walk with any stick you have made and are proud of your work. I offen walk with a crook whole walking my dog. Never had any one say anything other than the liked it.
OK, good to al least understand now that these are dry / seasoned sticks that get straightened. My dry sticks have not tending to give the impression they could possibly be bent / straightened, but once I get a steamer I'll give it a try. Of course some sticks draw character just from the unique natural shape they have (say, perhaps a gently S shape or something) and some stick makers would prefer to leave them alone, Once I get more sophisticated in what I'm doing I'm sure straighter sticks will make more sense for me to attempt. Thanks for the feedback, guys!
 

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There are a numbber of video's on YouTube on steaming sticks. they may be of help.
 

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Pretty much what the others said. If you have an understanding wife or are single you can steam them on the kitchen stove-not the whole stick at once but a section at a time. Just lay the section you want to steam over the pot and cover it while it heats up. I set the pot's lid on top and seal it up a bit with a towel. . You can also use a heat gun if you're just doing one or two at a time.
My steamer is a hot plate, a large stock pot and a box I nailed together out of scrap that sits on top of the pot. Ugly, but cheap.
Don't bother trying to straighten sharp bends. They're usually caused by a knot or an injury. Gentle bends can be straightened.
Pick and dry more than you think you need. Don't take it personally if you manage to break a few while you're straightening them. I still break some of mine.
Rodney
 

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I'm steaming a few sticks today so I thought I would show my setup such as it is. Purple Blue Wood Tints and shades Magenta
It's about as basic as it gets. A better heat source would be nice but it works.
Rodney
 

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well if it works its done its job

long run the steam may warp the wood

seen quite a few made from aluminium ducting with a wall paper stripper attachment but its what's work especially if its cheap and cheerful
 

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The wooden box was all scrap wood, so basically free. The weakness is the plywood on it. It will eventually delaminate.
I bought the hot plate years ago for another project. IIRC I was making a homemade wood finish and needed to do it outdoors. It's been a handy addition to the shop for other projects as well.
The stock pot I picked up for a few dollars at a local thrift store. It's pretty crude but it works.

I think a propane crab cooker/turkey deep fryer setup would be ideal. They put out a lot more heat so there would be less time waiting around for the water to boil.

Steaming isn't the only way to go about it. The steam is just an effective way to transfer the heat to the stick. Cobalt, was it you that posted the video at the stick making plant where they were sticking the raw sticks in hot sand to heat them up?
That method looked ideal for large operations to me. You can get higher temps than boiling water can get and the sand would hold the heat well once it was up to a working temperature.
 

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I made one once using a pressure cooker which had these clamps all the way around it. Then the plywood like yours and a down spout.
 

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Don't straighten too many, The ones I have done were done over a propane fish fryer pot with boiling water and an old towel to hold the steam in.

Some specie of wood no matter how much you steam um just won't straighten without breaking. Other woods get worse after a steam bath. As a rule I collect a whole lot more shanks than ever get made into sticks. If I were to hazard a guess maybe 1 outa 10 sticks I collect get made into sticks

. As I am usually collecting dead standing wood that borers have killed or wood I have salvaged from tree trimmers or housing developers I don't feel bad about making firewood out of what I can't use. When I do cut live saplings though I get a little more selective on what gets harvested. If I killed the tree I make every effort to utilize it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Don't straighten too many, The ones I have done were done over a propane fish fryer pot with boiling water and an old towel to hold the steam in.

Some specie of wood no matter how much you steam um just won't straighten without breaking. Other woods get worse after a steam bath. As a rule I collect a whole lot more shanks than ever get made into sticks. If I were to hazard a guess maybe 1 outa 10 sticks I collect get made into sticks

. As I am usually collecting dead standing wood that borers have killed or wood I have salvaged from tree trimmers or housing developers I don't feel bad about making firewood out of what I can't use. When I do cut live saplings though I get a little more selective on what gets harvested. If I killed the tree I make every effort to utilize it.
Sounds about right. A lot of those I've collected just don't see to be capable of being straightened.
 

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I don't know why you should have issues straightening sticks most woods will bend after steaming

i use shanks that are approx. 1 inch in diameter . this is perfectly strong enough for giving additional support for the vast majority of people

i wouldn't use anything above 1 1/4 inch in diameter so steaming is easier with this diameter . o are you trying to steam thick shanks?

Other things i would consider for stickmaking is the colour of the shank . as i don't remove the outer bark . I do go around the local woods walking and looking and it is surprising the colour difference in the same species of wood there are..so it depends on the growing season /conditions

I am much more careful what i cut nowadays and would never use dead wood , usually there not sound and you can spread pests into your workshop .any wood with worm holes personal i would burn them ,certainly wouldn't put it into the workshop could be asking for long-term problems
 

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I've had only very limited success in straightening found dead wood. I've peeled a few after I broke them trying to straighten them and I usually see some sort of fungus or mold. I've had far better success straightening wood I've cut myself.

I still use some dead wood. It depends on the stick and I don't count on being able to straighten it. Maple is a good example. A stick that came out of the top of a mature maple tree will have a different character than a young shoot growing out of a stump or a sapling.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I don't know why you should have issues straightening sticks most woods will bend after steaming

i use shanks that are approx. 1 inch in diameter . this is perfectly strong enough for giving additional support for the vast majority of people

i wouldn't use anything above 1 1/4 inch in diameter so steaming is easier with this diameter . o are you trying to steam thick shanks?

Other things i would consider for stickmaking is the colour of the shank . as i don't remove the outer bark . I do go around the local woods walking and looking and it is surprising the colour difference in the same species of wood there are..so it depends on the growing season /conditions

I am much more careful what i cut nowadays and would never use dead wood , usually there not sound and you can spread pests into your workshop .any wood with worm holes personal i would burn them ,certainly wouldn't put it into the workshop could be asking for long-term problems
See, this is why I was glad to find a group like this one. The insights from experience. Thoughts and advice from members like you, coming from a different and greater level of experience, help round out my understanding. Yes, some of my sticks are probably larger than the 1 / 1 1/4 inch because to get started I was looking for whatever I could find to give me a stock to work on - or practice on as the case may be. As it happens a couple of those, shall we say, crooked sticks, provided a character that lent itself to a certain type of stick though not of course to more refined versions that I hope to approach soon.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I've had only very limited success in straightening found dead wood. I've peeled a few after I broke them trying to straighten them and I usually see some sort of fungus or mold. I've had far better success straightening wood I've cut myself.

I still use some dead wood. It depends on the stick and I don't count on being able to straighten it. Maple is a good example. A stick that came out of the top of a mature maple tree will have a different character than a young shoot growing out of a stump or a sapling.
That too answers a question for me. As a novice, and to get started more quickly, a lot of the wood I collected was dryer than the Sahara. Good points about the maple out of the top versus the young shoot / sapling. I have found some use in dead wood for carving practice when the wood still as some integrity, and I did make a couple sticks I like out of dead wood by just filling in the bad spots and cavities. Wide range of approaches to this stuff, but it helps to hear the experiences and perceptions of others. Thanks!
 

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Another thing about wood of questionable strength; If you are selling a stick to people, you have to consider your liability. If a stick that you made breaks in any way and the owner gets hurt, you could face litigation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
T

Another thing about wood of questionable strength; If you are selling a stick to people, you have to consider your liability. If a stick that you made breaks in any way and the owner gets hurt, you could face litigation.
Good point! But the sticks I make, even out of deadwood, would fist have withstood the test om my OWN absurd girth! : )
 

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every one knows a stick is for additional balance and don't think people would use them for anything else. Just look at the majority of sticks for sale produced commercially .I think sometimes we worry about what could happen instead of focussing on what would happen.

I belong to a stickmaking group which most of us work on the same diameter of sticks , but i did give a shank to a friend the other day who wanted to make a ladies stick it was between 1 to 3/4 inch with a nice taper just over 1/2 inch. and considered it ideal for a lady

He always carves his topper suitable for a walking stick grip mostly dogs and makes them approx. market stick length .He prefers that size when training his dogs and goes beating as it assists him to get over *****

But i understand you use what's available its a practical solution to get shanks fortunately i have access to a few woods for the hazel i like.
 
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