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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
49.5"/126 cm, 20.5 oz/580 g.

I spent a lot of time on this stick over a period of months. I posted a couple pics of the handle previously, and that has changed very little. But I had to rework the body of the stick three times, trying to get a color and finish I liked.

A few weeks ago, I decided to give it one more try, and accept the results.

Early on, I decided that i would just carve away the bark on all but the handle, and perhaps deepen some of the "ligament" grooves in this so called muscle wood. That was somewhat tedious, and I found I could not get quite the same level of smoothness in the grooves as on the ridges. The grooves I could sand to about 320 grit w. the tools I have, the ridges as fine as I liked, and I went to 600 grit on them.

The finish problems I encountered seem to arise from the density and impermeability of some of the wood.

I first coat of color I used was a black hue wood dye mixed w. alcohol. I was trying for an "iron" like color. The hue had lots of purple in it, so I did coats of warm brown over it. While the result was an acceptable color, and the eveness of the color was good, I found that the slightest nick revealed the base wood color. The dye was not penetrating more than a hairs breadth unless it happened to seep into some exposed cross grain. Even the slightest sanding where there was some raised grain left bare wood.

After the stick sat for a few weeks, I decided I was really unsatisfied w. it. I sanded it bare. next I tried ebonizing it. I couldn't find any tannic acid powder in the immediate vicinty, so I resorted to coats of cabernet sauvignon wine, which has a high tanin content. I put more coats on the bottom of the stick, and gradually tapered off working toward the handle, which I had decided to leave its very pale brown natural color. Then I repeated w. coats of iron acetate. The color was good, and the coverage acceptable. Some of the harder grain resisted the solutions. I put 2 layers of tung on, and rubbed smooth. So far, so good. Then I put on a layer of carnauba wax. Bad idea. Carnauba requires heat to melt to a smooth finish. I was unable to generate enough heat down in the wood grooves w. my buffing wheel.2 days later, most of the lower wood areas were covered w. a foggy grey mess. Remove all again.

Went out on a limb. Took a tube of bronze "gilding" powder, and rubbed that into the wood. At first there was a faint yellow sheen over all, which I thought was OK. After a few days, it turned to a dull brown grey. Sand again. It was difficult getting all the metal dust out of the wood pores.

I went back to the ebonizing process. I only went as smooth as 400 grit in most areas. This left the groove areas somewhat rough. The ebonizing worked reasonabley well.

Along the way I came across mention that teak oil had similar water resistance as tung or linseed oil. I tried that, and it was thin enough to penetrate better. 2nd and 3rd coats became extremely, maybe too glossy. The images I'm posting are mostly from the last round of finishing, but I'm including one from early in the first sanding.

1Musclewood.jpg 2MuscleWoodHandle.jpg 3MuscleTeakOildB.jpg 3MuscleWoodtop.jpg 4MuscleWoodKnotPlug.jpg 5MuscleWoodBottom.jpg 6hornbeam_0394.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
It is remarkably tough wood to work!
Making portions smooth by hand wasn't too hard. Details could have been much more challenging. I tried running gun checking tools over some places, as well as engraving burins. The results were promising. But the largest bits I got while carving w. my best gouges were about the size of a barley corn. I would have to have a squirrel or beaver like energy to cut any figures into it.
 

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I suspectThis is extremly a nice peice of work, love the colouring effect from dark to light, must rate as one of your best peices.The handle looks good very stylish

You wont be getting any more letters from your old teacher saying " must try harder" even a little star is in order

Pity i know nothing about the wood It didnt need any figure in it you did exactly the right thing with it and i dont like shanks without toppers on them but this one stands out

i suspect thei will improve with use good things do .pity i dont seem to improve with age
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Pity i know nothing about the wood It didnt need any figure in it you did exactly the right thing with it and i dont like shanks without toppers on them but this one stands out
Thanks for the compliment. The handle was fun to carve, despite the wood toughness. It turned out a little thinner than suits my ever stiffer hands . But the thinest portion is only about 1mm thick, and is still completely rigid. I can hold the whole stick horizontal to the ground, and there is not the slightest feel of any bowing. I have some hop hornbeam, which is more common around here. I hope the wood grain is as tight and fine as the plain hornbeam.

I've been looking over lots of English made sticks, and must admit that the standard construction of shank, collar, and topper makes lots of sense, particularly if the topper is interchangeable to suit the owner's style or need. I am working on my first mortise and tenon handle, which will not be interchangeable, but is practice for "toppered" sticks.
 

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Just orded some interchangeable fixtures for a series of toppers for myself.So hopefully start some new projects when back on feet,

keep us informed of your progress on the new shank.

bit quiet here?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
First, an oops on my last post. The minimum thickness in the handle is 1 cm, not 1 mm.

As to showing the new shank, I think I'll pass. Its a first attempt, and it looks it.

I will excuse myself a little by saying the light in my north facing work porch, even w. a work light, is not so good yet. When I take pieces out into the occasional warm sunlight, many carving and cutting defects become immediately obvious.
 

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Nice stick gdenby. Great coloring. Hard woods are nice but much more work. Old eyes and bad light requires sun light inspections in my shop.
 

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Its not a excuse its a fact .we have all found that, have the same trouble when i mix paint.
Paint mixing can be very difficult. Everyone perceives color somewhat differently. Even the amount of time one has been awake can alter hue perception. Likewise age.

And ambient light changes that perception. I once participated in a lighting workshop. There was a small enclosure fitted w. various lighting elements, and we would observe how an object changed color as different lights were used. A few years ago, I was pleased to find some of the new LED lamps were nicely balanced, unlike earlier ones, which tended to be very blue. They were notably more balanced than the halogen bulbs we had been using in display cases.

Paints are not pure hues. When mixed some reds and blues will not yield purple, but grey. There is a very extensive general reference about using watercolors here. (You may spends weeks reading over it if interested.) There are many clarifications about pigments. For instance, here is a page that shows the light reflected from many common red color water paints.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Nice stick gdenby. Great coloring. Hard woods are nice but much more work. Old eyes and bad light requires sun light inspections in my shop.
I don't mind the work. I started this as a pastime, and I continue to relish hours carefully shaping away. After spending about 40 years working in the absence of sunlight, sitting for a few hours on a sunlit bench carving away bark is a delight.
 

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Gdenby,

I really like your shaped handle area on this hornbeam walking stick. It looks very elegant, and comfortable. I have a few stick blanks that are just plain, and I've been wondering what to do with them. Would you mind if I did something similar with my blanks?
 

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To display my ignorance, I believe that the ebonizing refers to the blackened photos. That process, whatever it is, seems appropriate for a more authentic shillelagh, especially in the absence of prunus spinosa or other traditional Irish woods. I'll have to learn more.

I truly admire this piece.
 

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gdenby, that is a wonderful job on that stick! I have never worked hornbeam into that kind of sheen, but I may have to give it a try.
I normally leave it in a much more natural state.... Except for the bark removal, which can be a real pain. I harvest a lot of hornbeam here
Near my house, and it is one of my favorites. If I can find it as standing deadwood, I love the way it spalts.... Especially if it's had a honeysuckle vine wrapped around it. I just posted a stick I had just finished... It's hornbeam as well, but it's not nearly as polished as yours. Very nice work, sir!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Gdenby,

I really like your shaped handle area on this hornbeam walking stick. It looks very elegant, and comfortable. I have a few stick blanks that are just plain, and I've been wondering what to do with them. Would you mind if I did something similar with my blanks?
Not at all. FWIW, I've decided that the lower portion of the grip area needs a bigger "bulge" than the thin-ish shape I have there. I made the projection to afford a small slip stop, and it works well enough for that. But I find that as I change the position of my grip, and grasp that ridge, it doesn't feel as good in my hand as I'd like. Too small, and too thin edged.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
To display my ignorance, I believe that the ebonizing refers to the blackened photos. That process, whatever it is, seems appropriate for a more authentic shillelagh, especially in the absence of prunus spinosa or other traditional Irish woods. I'll have to learn more.

I truly admire this piece.
Woods that have lots of tannins, such as oak or walnut, are easy to ebonize. The solution used to darken the wood is iron acetate (not sure if its ferric or ferrous acetate.) Basically, drop a bit of oil free steel wool into a vinegar bath. There are other substances, such as ammonia, that also react to darken wood, but the vinegar solution is least hazardous.

I've done some oak w. good results, some maple with mediocre results. The hornbeam did not have much of a reaction by itself, so I upped the tannin content by painting the surface w. Cabernet Sauvignon. The blackest areas have 6 coats of wine, followed by 6 coats of the vinegar solution. The lighter areas have only 1 or 2 coats. A solution of pure tannic acid would work better, I'm sure. The closest source to me is a wine making supply shop, but it is over 30 miles away, and I didn't find an oportunity to make the trip.

I also learned that avacado pits are very high in tannins, so I've been saving some of those, and will pulverize them and mix w. alcohol.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
gdenby, that is a wonderful job on that stick! I have never worked hornbeam into that kind of sheen, but I may have to give it a try.
I normally leave it in a much more natural state.... Except for the bark removal, which can be a real pain. I harvest a lot of hornbeam here
Near my house, and it is one of my favorites. If I can find it as standing deadwood, I love the way it spalts.... Especially if it's had a honeysuckle vine wrapped around it. I just posted a stick I had just finished... It's hornbeam as well, but it's not nearly as polished as yours. Very nice work, sir!
If you have a good supply if hornbeam, I'm in envy. Hop hornbeam is more common around here, and I have several sticks of that. I'm hoping the wood quality is similar to the plain hornbeam. I went back to the area I found the stick. I knew there were several trees there about 20 years ago, but I only found one, and the closest branch was about 12 feet above ground. From what I've read, hornbeam is easily shaded out by faster growing trees, and typically do not reach maximum size in a forrest.

The density of the wood makes it easy to polish. Once polished, it doesn't take stain much, and I found that even teak oil would hardly soak in. In the handle area, there are portions I buffed up to 1200 grit, but then went back down to 800 to get oil penetration. If I wasn't going to put a finish on the wood, 1200+ grit will take it to near reflective.
 

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Thanks for permission, gdenby! The ferrous acetate recipe is a great idea. I'll definately keep that in mind for future sticks.
 

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jdenby, I have a very good supply of Hornbeam. Seems we have two varieties.... One with the tendons look, the other with a smoother appearance. I've not really learned my trees like I should yet. Where I harvest my sticks is in a bottoms along an old Creek. And it's got a lot of vines growing among the shorter trees that makes for some nice twisties.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
jdenby, I have a very good supply of Hornbeam. Seems we have two varieties.... One with the tendons look, the other with a smoother appearance. I've not really learned my trees like I should yet. Where I harvest my sticks is in a bottoms along an old Creek. And it's got a lot of vines growing among the shorter trees that makes for some nice twisties.
The tendon look is the plain hornbeam, aka, muscle wood. Young hop hornbeam has smooth bark, but with age, becomes shaggier. The seed clusters can be hard to tell apart, but the hop hornbeam cluster looks much like a hop bud, whereas the hornbeam opens more.
 
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