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Good evening. I'm new to making walking sticks and I'm sorry if this question has been asked before. I have done a fair amount of reading/watching posts/videos but only recently came across some photos of walking sticks that still had all the bark on the stick. Is leaving all the bark on the stick popular? If you leave the bark on, do you still apply some sort of finish / sealer?

Thanks!
 

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It really depends on the bark and the maker. Many makers, especially those in the UK, use sticks of hazel because it has particularly attractive bark when finished. I do the same with the sticks I make with yellow birch (I don't have access to hazel.) A lot of other trees will have nice looking bark when finished.

I find maple to be rather dull and grey so I tend to sand back the outer bark to reveal the red under bark which looks nice when finished. Same with ash sometimes.

The handle area is the place where, more often than not, makers will remove the bark because a perfect natural handle is tricky to find.

And, yes, they still need a finish of some sort to help the withstand years of use in all sorts of weather.
 

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Welcome BillD. Leaving the bark on is more popular in the UK I think.

I like the look and make most of my sticks that way.

If I pick live sticks I look for smooth barked sticks and leave the bark on. I pick a lot of alder. When they're green the bark is a light grey-green color. They dry to anywhere from orange brown to dark brown.

Dead sticks generally get the bark removed. It's usually loose and comes right off.

It comes down to personal preference on whether you leave the bark on or not.

Smooth bark is finished just like raw wood. I wipe my finishes on with a rag. Rough bark would be trickier.
 

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You can daub it on with a brush or cloth so it gets into any cracks. I usually use a foam brush. Works pretty well. If the bark is naturally smooth a rag will work as well.

Sprays work fine too.

A couple of pics

The first a maple cane I just finished. Bark was sanded back then stained before a coat of poly. Second a yellow birch shank with a walnut handle. Poly then sanded then more poly then one last sanding and final coat of poly.
 

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Very nicely, I've found. Cuts and drills easier than bone. Sands nice, just work through the grits and polishes up sweet. The only tricky bit is the pith in the center. It can soak up a lot of epoxy during glue up, so best to remove most of it.
 
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