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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Anyone on the forum made a walking stick from either white or river birch?

The local garden shop has started putting out their Christmas crafting/decoration materials and they have a load of white and river birch "poles" 5'-6' in length and arrow straight. I hated to, but I bought one to give it a try. I cut a foot off the top and have started to whittle on it. The wood seems to carve clean but I can't see the bark staying intact so to make a stick I suppose it would have to be stripped off.

I figure to go back after Christmas and see if I can catch a deal on the left over pieces.

Mark
 

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Although I haven't made anything yet I managed to find a nice sapling very near to where I live and harvested it and it's now drying. Beautiful stuff and yes now is the time of year it seems to be showing up in these parts as well in the Christmas and craft sections of various stores.
Hope it carves nicely for you.

Sean
 

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I don't think white (paper) birch is native around here. It grows, but I've only seen it planted as an ornamental. I've found river birch in local woods. From what I can gather from the wood database, it seems like birch would make a good stick wood.

The river birch bark I've seen is very flakey, and I do suppose the top layers would peel away easily. The under layers might be tougher. I found this site which describes conditioning birch bark for knife handles. Might be a lot of work, but the article says the feel is nice and supple.
 

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Here in Alaska we have plenty of Birch.... Easy to work with and does in fact make a nice hiking stick and/or walking cane..... leaving the bark on does make for a nice finish.... I usually address it [Birch] by lightly sanding it with a higher grit sandpaper [220], on a drum sander to remove some of the "flaking" that is pretty common among Birch.... leaves a nice smooth finish without getting too deep into the bark and leaves a nice color laden pattern that dresses up rather well with Danish and/or Tung Oil. Also, complete bark removal leaves a really pretty, yet lighter colored wood that is rather easy and forgiving to work with..... either process [bark on or off] will dress up quite well.....
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the input gents.

I have been carving another Santa out of the piece I cut off. I believe the stick I purchased is river birch. I did in fact do a little light sanding with 220 grit to knock off the loose bark. I then put a coat of Minwax polycrylic on the piece to "tighten" up the remaining bark before I started to carve on it. I really like the results. When I finish the Santa I will post the pics in the thread what "Christmas projects are you doing?"

After the Christmas gift carving is done I am looking forward to making a hiking stick out of the birch. It will make for a very interesting piece.

Mark
 
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