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Last summer I got curious about stick fighting traditions and read a little bit about shillelaghs. I thought it would be nice to make one, but I'm not aware of any blackthorn growing in these parts. Some research into comparative hardness of woods led me to the Wood Database and its sorting of North American woods by Janka scale. And to my surprise, mountain mahogany ranked third. I thought: mountain mahogany grows around here. In fact, I drive by a little stand of them sometimes. So, one day I took my saw there and looked for some branches that might be dead. And I found some! I brought home a few nice pieces, including a thin branch that I made into a conducting baton. And then there was this heavy straight branch with another growing from a crotch. I looked at it, sawed off here and there, and it was a perfect cane length. "Then 'here,' said I, with a sudden cry, is my" . . . shillelagh!

The thin end of the branch has been gnawed by bugs that made a filigree pattern of those little trails, but I determined this wasn't a serious detriment to the sturdiness of the stick. I put it in the shed for a few months to make sure it was good and dry, and it never developed any more cracks than the small ones it had. So - very gradually - I started peeling it. Mountain mahogany is really tough to peel. I scraped and shaved and put putty in cracks, and then finally started sanding.

I should have taken pictures along the way, but all I have so far are these screenshots from a short video I took. These kind of show what it looked like when I had taken off the outer bark and was still scraping away at the inner, with my knife digging through in little spots.

Brown Terrestrial animal Baked goods Dish Underwater


Wood Twig Soil Fish Metal


I've since sanded it to the point I wanted and am applying a fourth coat of walnut oil/beeswax blend. I'll take some pictures of it soon.

Meanwhile I was poking around some more online about shillelaghs and found out that the Scottish version is called a kebbie stick - and there was a thread about that here:

https://walkingstickforum.com/topic/3577-kebbie/

And I figured that since the Scots in my ancestry came over a lot more recently than my Irish, I would call this my kebbie stick. I still watch Irish fighting videos for ideas on how to train with it.

On a side note, my mountain mahogany expedition also yielded a much longer branch that I'll also be working on later. It's a lovely wood, even smells kind of nice when sanded.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'm debating that. I like the look of the polished face and am reluctant to drill, also not sure if I'll have the gumption to go get the metal etc. It's pretty heavy on its own already. But I'm not ruling out the possibility. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Ok, I've put four coats of oil-wax blend, rubbed it down with a stone and let it sit about five days to give the walnut oil time to dry; here are some pictures. I followed a practice I often do of sanding the upper parts smoother, letting the lower stay kind of rough (didn't rub the lower part with the stone either). There are places I used putty or glue to fill cracks, and the color of the putty sticks out, I think I'm ok with it. This was much harder to sand than the fruit wood I'm used to. I didn't use any stain at all: the oil-wax sort of enhances it, but the color it shows is the natural wood.

A little over halfway down I smoothed an area to serve as a grip for striking techniques. I took it on a walk and practiced what little I know, it felt good.

Pictures:

Wood Plant Hardwood Tints and shades Flooring


Ingredient Wood Food Natural foods Drink


Tableware Hat Wood Food Ingredient


Human body Wood Artifact Nail Human leg


Wood Floor Flooring Amber Plank
 

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Late replying to this post, but I just arrived. No Blackthrone, but it's twin sister Hawthrone is common in Utah. It has red bark, thrones and small crabapple like fruit, "Haws". It grows along streams and irrigation ditches and canals. Google it and Blackthrone and compare. I made one stick out of it and will do another when the leaves fall. In the photo the Hawthrone stick is at 6 o'clock.
 

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Nice stick! Even though blackthorn is used now for shillelagh's, originally they were made from Oak and Crabapple. After the British conquest of Ireland, they striped the island of it's oak forest's and that left the Irish with the scrubby blackthorn to work with.
 
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