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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Maybe I've missed it but I've not seen an exhaustive discussion of which species of wood can be used with the bark left on especially after steam or heat gun straightening. I know that blackthorn and hazel do fine and in my experience most maple and oak bark stays on well. Any others you know of that either will or absolutely won't work? And also has anyone attempted to straighten diamond willow. There are a lot of blanks for sale but most look like they would need at least some straightening. I assume that some species are harder to straighten than others.
 

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The fruit woods apple pear etc are good, sweet chestnut is excellent also hawthorn, in fact every thing is worth a try, I believe it is when the shank is dressed with all the side shoot areas smoothed down and showing the inner wood and shoot core, which, form a regular pattern down the shank and the contrasting darker colour of the finished bark it makes the stick stand out against No bark shanks, unless as with diamond willow the bark off accentuates the diamond type structure of the wood. I have seen a shank made from Gorse which is a shrub/bush growing on open grassland which had bark off and this left small black indents around and along the shank and caused a good bit of discussion as to what wood it was when brought to the club.
 

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I've found I've been leaving bark on sticks more often lately to dry. This way as Gloops mentioned you can get some interesting colour combinations if you decide to sand later on using outer, inner, and sapwood.
I'm in the process of making a steambox for bending wood so will be getting a firsthand look at how the bark fares after heat.
 

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Hazel is classic for leaving the bark on. The things I look for to leave the bark on are these.

Is the bark tight on the stick so it stays on? Is the bark attractive? Hazel is very attractive. I'm working on a flowering plum cane right now that will have the bark on. The bark is similar to cherry. I also have a cherry stick drying that I hope to keep the bark on as well as a birch stick.

I think species with smoother bark are better than species with rough bark.

I have a couple willow (not diamond willow) and ash blanks. The bark is pretty bland on those and I might go ahead and peel them when they're dry.

Are you going to have a handle or are you gripping the stick itself? Mostly I prefer smooth wood if I'm gripping the stick.

The hazel and flowering plum both responded well to steaming with no loosening of the bark.

So far it's been my experience that you have a better chance of keeping the bark if you harvest green sticks as opposed to finding dead wood on the ground.

Rodney
 

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go to agree with gloop interesting to see the results on the fruit woods .Cherry often seems flaky not sure on this one so be interested in seeing th results gloop

Ash is also handy for leaving the bark on but not so keen on the greyish green bark. but love the finish you get on chestnut and hazel / blackthorn.

Hazel has a amazing colour range unlike most of other woods used on shanks with hints of pinks and crackle like glaze effect to the common brown finish depending on where its grown and the conditions its grown under. My favourite ones come from Scotland and wales much nicer and a wider range of colours
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Good information all. I'm new to the straightening process, I've used a heat gun once or twice. I did discover that it's not the way to go with burning bush (Euonymus alatus) The corky little ridges are quite flammable, I'm hoping that steaming will do better. Losing the ridges is not that detrimental though since the bark is still interesting. I have my steamer built, still need to build a device to do the straightening. I have a pretty good supply of sticks most of which have a root attached for a handle so I hope to get started as soon as the weather co-operates. What I have in good supply is autumn olive and golden honey locust so I have high hopes for them.
 

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Here's my list. Silver & red maple works bark left on. Hickory makes an interesting stick bark on. Cotton wood & tulip poplar work bark on. Black Cherry works bark on or off (with oil) Aspen works bark on. Red oak I prefer de-barked and stained. White, lodge pole & ponderosa pine I like de-barked and stained. Sassafras I remove the outer bark to expose the reddish inner bark this makes for a great contrast when carving into the lighter heartwood. Engelmann spruce I de-barked. Birch I have peeled the bark as it wants to peel on its own. Cherry plum works bark on.

This is about the extent of the different species of wood I have made sticks from. This spring I have some ash to harvest that has been killed off by Emerald ash borer and some black willow blown down by storm. Also will be on the scout for some Osage orange and black walnut in my travels. Too many woods and not enough room to store them!!

Great topic Alador!
 

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I've been wondering if there was any interest in a table of wood characteristics aimed specifically at stick making that any member could contribute to according to their experience with a particular species. I have a mock up of one we could use or modify if there are any thoughts on it. This is just a sample. It would have to be somewhere easily accessible. Not sure how to do it exactly.

Tried to display the sample as a chart but it did not work, will need advice from site admin.
 

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Personally, I think that Holly looks a lot better when the bark is stripped! I have had some that turns almost black when the bark is left on. The problem I have found with Holly is that it is a very wet wood and needs a longer time to dry, in turn this does cause some splitting if not dried slowly and sealed well (even with the bark on). Although I like the 'yellowy' colour of Blackthorn, I think that I would be "strung up" in the UK if I removed bark from a Blackthorn shank :mad: ! I also like Ash with the bark removed too. This is all my personal opinion and may differ from others. N.
 

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I think you should do what ever you want with shanks , it would be a shame to remove the bark of blackthorn but if its what you want you shoulld do it.

Your the stickmaker in your process .if you like there colour with bark stripped yu shoud do it

Of coarse eveyone has different opinions but thats what they are there is no hard and fast rules unless you enter compertitions then there is a strict criteria to meet

I hate to see bent sticks to me its a sloppy apporoach abd cruicial in stickmaking but over the pond its considered to add character a straight stick is a stronger stick

but its all subjective
 

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You're 100% correct Cobalt. A straight stick is much stronger than a crooked one. Sometimes though, I do like the looks of some of the crooked ones.

I'm just not sure I would trust them as a serious walking aid but for light use they're fine.

I'm currently working on a crooked stick for a hiking staff so I don't get to say too many negative things about crooked sticks. Should be putting the finishing touches on it over the next couple days. I'll post it then.

Rodney
 
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