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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Last week the Black Hills National Forest in South Dakota was hit by a snowstorm and thousands of trees and branches around the area are down. There is oak, elm, ash, cottonwood, poplar, apple, and the list goes on and on. Everyone is helping clean up in the parks and public areas. I have recently started making canes and walking sticks and was wondering if anyone had any tips and/or information about harvesting some of this beautiful wood that will soon head to the landfill. What should I look for? Which wood would be best? Any thoughts or comments are appreciated! Namaste
 

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Welcome to the site! A lot has to do with personal preference! I like the hardwoods the best, but I'm not much of a carver. I also like to find them straight as possible. Cut them long, so you have plenty material to work with!
 

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Good Morning and thank you! I am headed out today to see what I can get. I am thinking I want to get as much oak as possible. Would oak make a good cane or walking stick? I am assuming it would. I can post some pictures later. Love and light.
 

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Most of what I have is from storm damage. There are 2 things to watch for: hidden cracks from when the wood snapped and crashed, and bug or disease flaws that made the wood more likely to fail. Since you seem to have a lot to choose from, be picky. Its a real pain to be part way thru making a stick, and run into a flaw.

I've read various recommendations about when to strip the bark off of branches. I'm not practiced enough to say, but I cleaned the bark and off a number of pieces of green oak and hickory this summer. It was vastly easier than the dry ones I've worked w. I have the ends sealed, and am waiting to see if I get any longitudinal splits as they finish seasoning.

I would suppose most of the wood was still full of sap when the sudden storm took it down. Green sticks thick enough for canes, etc generally need at least a year of curing. I keep mine in an unheated garage. I've only had a few still too wet after letting them sit for a year. During that time, inspect them every now and then. If you find piles of wood dust around them, there is a bug infestation. If you want to save the infested wood, fumigate it in large plastic bags.

There's lots of info here on the forum about various seasoning methods. Likewise, a fair amount about the quality of various woods, and their suitability for different purposes.

I mostly carve hiking sticks, and long straight hardwoods are my preference for those. But I'm seeing a greater need for canes, and have been keeping an eye out for sticks that happen to have a natural bend in them, or that can be cut away leaving a portion of the larger branch on to be formed into a handle. Some softer and lighter pieces of wood have been rigid enough that I think they are suitable for lighter duty use.
 

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Good Morning and thank you! I am headed out today to see what I can get. I am thinking I want to get as much oak as possible. Would oak make a good cane or walking stick? I am assuming it would. I can post some pictures later. Love and light.
All oak is relatively hard, but there is a noticeable difference between the red/black oaks (the ones w. the pointy leaves) and the white oaks (the rounded leaves.) The red/black wood has open pores. It is slightly lighter by volume, and cuts a bit more easily. White oak has closed pores, which makes it more water resistant, but hard. Great stuff if tools are very sharp, and one is patient.

Around here, most of the oak branches are rather twisty. A thunderstorm brought down a half dozen big oaks near me a few months ago. I was happy to find 8 mostly straight branches that were between 36" & 54." Younger trees often have straighter branches, but the wood is not quite as stiff or dense.

Good searching.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you so much for such wonderful information! I have harvested about 20 branches/sticks. There was elm, ash, oak, maple, and cottonwood. I got a few of each one. Maple has such nice straight sticks...and yeh, oak was all twisty but did find a couple straight ones and also took a couple nice twisty pieces which I have no idea what I will do with lol. I will let them all dry in an unheated shed till next spring. I do think I will debark them first though. Having worked with diamond willow, I know it is much easier to get the bark off of green wood. I saw a tip about leaving the bark on around the ends to prevent splitting and this does seem to work with willow. I have a very large piece of diamond willow from last spring and it has been drying in the shed. I had put large rubber bands on both ends to prevent splitting. Well, the ends didnt split but the middle split wide open...so much for that idea!

Can I post pictures of what I got today? I am not seeing where I can do that.

Anyway, thanks guys, for your input and replies! Namaste
 

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I'm glad you are able to harvest these downed woods.

I have ridden the Black Hills on my Honda and Harley, in the summer, and have marveled at all the wood I've seen. I love riding through patches of evergreen trees (Pine, Fir, Juniper) the scent drives me crazy. I've also ridden through sections of hardwoods, mostly box elder, but that was where the buffalo were. Nothing like cruising past wild animals that big on a noisy machine!

I'm just glad you were able to harvest sticks from here. I just noticed that this is an old post.

About the same time, I had a great wind storm that took down a lot off trees here. Broke a lot of the old cottonwood, elm, pine, and fir trees. My apple tree got hit by one of my broken elm trees, and broke it, too. I carted that broken wood to my brush pile I keep for the small birds that need cover from the Hawks that prey on them. After looking through the properties of various woods i found on this site, I want to go back and tear through my brushpile to find good sticks to use. Elm. Apple, Hawthorne, Juniper are all in there. Rabbits and ground squirrels keep eating the bottom out of my pile, so i don't ever have to worry about it getting too big. I just hope they haven't gotten to the hawthorne, yet.
 

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Looks like you have a great find there, think you will find its better to let shanks season naturally with the bark on it will reduce the chances of splitting the wood more. But i never remove the bark from my shanks diffrent approach to amaericans but if it works for you do it .A lot of hard woods are to heavy for hiking poles but may make good walking stics as they do have the strengh in the wood .

The shanks i use are about 1 to 1.2.5`inches in diameter and are usuall y made to armpit height as used for hiking so this does affect the weight and a lot of ladies use them.I have never made a walking stick or cane as you call them .I have found more call for hiking poles and know a lot of ramblers and walkersit also gives me the chance to carve more..

Hazel and blackthornash and chestnut ,ash are most popular here but like most people you use what you have access to just enjoy doing it
 

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Cobalt,

Just having fun doing it, is my plan. Half the fun is tracking down these different woods that have been grown here. Most of the real native stuff are shrubs, under 12 feet tall, so I want to explore using these hardwood shrub woods, too.

In the introduced tree rows is where the bigger trees are, all imported to the state over the last 130 years by the Homesteaders and the State Agricultural Department. Close around the house/barnyard is where most if the fruit tree varietis will be found. Since the demise of the family farm in the 80's, there are quite a few abandoned farmyards, while the farmland is still used by big owner/corporate farms.
 
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