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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just finished making my first walking stick. It's a branch of hawthorne I pruned about a year, year and a half ago. I had tossed it into my brushpile, and went out and found it a couple of weeks ago. I trimmed the branches off, and ended up with a 48" long stick with a slight crook at the top, and about a 3" deep bow from top to bottom.

I made a 5' soak tank out of 4" PVC, filled with 1.46 gallons of detergent, 1 gallon of denatured alcohol, and about a gallon of water, and soaked it for 2 days.

I debarked it with a pocket knife, then a half-round rasp. I used a heat gun to take most of the bow out of it. Rounded the top with a belt sander, then sanded the whole stick very coarsely.

I then put about 4 coats of Tung Oil on it, and gave it to the wife. By the time I finished it, it's now 47 1/4" tall, a pale blond wood with striations where the thorns and branches left the main shaft.

When she used her aluminum cane, at 31 1/2" tall, black, with a normal offset tee handle, people would treat her as invisible, give her no room, run her over with shopping carts, and just generally ignore her.

We went to Bismarck, ND yesterday for supplies. The wife used it the whole time,and was amazed at how people reacted to it. People were opening doors for her, giving her room to walk around shopping carts,and not at all upset about how slow she has to walk.

Quite a difference a custom walking stick makes!

She also said that the vertical grip at about her armpit level, really reduced the strain on her back. The short cane made her walk "lopsided", but with this stick, she could walk upright, and normal.

I'll get pics posted eventually, sorry I don't have any now!
 

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Great first step.

I really need to learn to un-bow sticks. What setting did you use w. the heat gun? Hot, or just warm? Did you do the straightening when the wood was still was wet from the soak?
 

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Would love to see the pics when you can get them posted.

I have used a homemade steamer..... a kettle over an open fire confined within a square of hadite blocks.... with a piece of sheet aluminum bent to somewhat of a shape for a covering. Then used an old blanket to drape over the aluminum sheet to hold more of the steam around the shaft I'm straightening. It's not high tech, lol, but it works okay. I'll let the stick steam for up to an hour, then take it from the steam and straighten on it.

I've also harvested sticks green.... with the sap still in the shaft, and placed it under something heavy on the floor of the shop.... mashing the bend to the floor. Again, it's not Hi-tech, but works with time. Since I try to let my sticks season for about a year per inch of diameter.... harvesting it green, and leaving it under a heavy weight for that amount of time seems to work fairly well. The stick seems to dry to the straightened shape.

\

Low Tech for a Low budget! LOL
 

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just a kettle will do the trick and it dosnt matter about the setting on the heat gun as long as you dont scorch the wood .I just usually use the heat gun its quick and conveniant.These no doubt that steaming is better.if you have a few to do just bunch them up so there heating up whilst you do one at a time. Theres no need to soak them at all

if you use the heat gun just bend it on your knee if you have decent jeans on its the way i usually do it sometimes i use my jig if its a bad bow

Great first step.

I really need to learn to un-bow sticks. What setting did you use w. the heat gun? Hot, or just warm? Did you do the straightening when the wood was still was wet from the soak?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Gdenby,

This Hawthorne stick was mostly cured, as it tapers from about 1" down to about 3/4", and had been in my brush pile for over a year. I soaked it anyway, but only for about 2 days. That made the bark easy to cut off, and the rasp work on the branches and thorns didn't tear the wood. Once that was done, then I tried the straightening using a Heat gun set on it's medium temperature. It wouldn't take a set. I cranked the heat gun to maximum and spent about 20 minutes heating a 12" to 15" stretch of the deepest part of the bow, rotating and moving up and down the whole time. Once I started to scorch the center of the bow, I bent it overstraight and held it that way for a long time. It finally took the set and rebounded to nearly straight, with only about a 1/2" curve in the original direction. Also, didn't break. The scorch marks sanded out just fine. It was thirsty, though, it drank a lot of Tung Oil when I started that process.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
MoroCreek,

I Home Brew, and I've been thinking about trying to steam a stick during the boil. Decided I'm usually too busy to mess with 2 hobbies at once, contamination of my beer, not being able to hold the stick straight enough, long enough while my beer is needing heat adjustments, is enough to not do that.

However, my brewpot filled with just water, and a covering to capture the steam, will probably allow me to steam several sticks at once, or progressively. Thanks for the idea!

Clamping green sticks sounds like it works well, I'll have to try that. I haven't harvested green wood, yet. Just got interested in this over Christmas holidays.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
cobalt,

After I successfully straightened my Hawthorne, I cut a standing deadwood Apple branch, didn't soak it, and tried to straighten it with just the heat gun. That one broke, and now is only cane length. It was a deeper curve, that might have had something to do with it.

I'm of the opinion that with out the water content (Natural, or introduced by the steam) the wood can't stretch on one side and shrink on the other to straighten, thus breakage.

However, as a novice, I might have been a wee bit impatient, after my one success. I will try again, as standing deadwood is much easier to get permission to harvest. Both methods will be used in the future.
 

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Fordj ,
I've been interested in home brewing myself. I've never tried it, but I have read up on it, even downloaded a home brewing book onto my tablet and watched several YouTube videos... And checked out a few home brewing supply places, checking out their kits. One day I'm going to give it a try. I don't drink a lot, but I do like the dark beers and ales.

I found six new cane blanks yesterday... Put a picture within one of the threads here yesterday, except when I was laying them out for the pic, I picked up one I've had for a while instead of the last newly harvested one. Didn't realize it until I looked at the posted picture a little later. One of these had too much curve to the shaft, and being green with new sap rising, I wedged it between two studs in my shop wall, and used a couple of wood blocks where needed to straighten the shaft. I just have to wait on it to cure now, and hope it holds the shape.

I hate to appear stupid, but when y'all talk about hot air guns..... You're not talking about blow dryers for hair, are you?

You mentioned standing dead wood that you harvest, I like to find these as well. They're just not as plentiful it seems, especially with enough strength to use for a cane or staff. I love finding one that is still strong, but the wood is becoming spalted... The different colors running into the grain of the wood.... Makes a beautiful stick.

Thanks to all for your sharing, love the forum here!
 

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this may be of some help i hope

think you didnt move the heat gun enough never keep it still so it scorchs the wood

I have been to the county stick makers workshop this after noon and took a few phototswhich may help

I you season wood for at least a year ,i mostly do mine for 2 , it seem very odd to soak it for a few days so you can straighten it ,i have never known this practise till i came on this site ,mayby the american way?its whatever suits i suppose but i have never known a english stickmaker do it and the memebers have a lot of experince it stickmaking

the guys at the club are very experianced makers and are said to amongst the best in the country and this is the method they use

Pic 1 its just a electric boiler ,they lay the shanks over it cover with canvas for about 20 mins then pop them in a jig and leave them to cool .they will always stay straightIthink this is the best way

Pic 2 is a home made jig with a guy heating up the stick with a hot air gun ,always keep th gun moving and keep turning the stick then pop it in the jig and leave to cool, never let it burn

The last few are a few pics of what i use to straighten sticks other than my knee it it just needs tweeking depends how much bend there is in the stick most things are home made or use whatever you can

I am not saying this is the only way but its been used for years so its tried and tested and works

Gas Road surface Bumper Asphalt Automotive exterior Sleeve Standing Gesture Waist Engineering Wood Automotive exterior Bumper Gas Bicycle part

Wood Gas Flooring Engineering City Wood Hardwood Gas Composite material Engineering Saw Wood Tool Machine tool Machine
 

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A few sticks 1st is hawthorn thumbstick with bark removed it is buffalo horn with rams horn inlay the next pic is the cut out before being mad along with the jig, horn is also pretty east to manipulate once heated , again best boiled (stinks bad) or you can use the heat gun you can bed it with your fingers when it flattenend whilst warm.stick 2 is a ligna vita thumb stick on a hazel shank 3rd water buffalo horn on hazel last pic is of a few thumb sticks made from branches not sure of the wood used.Hope there useful

Hand tool Wood Bicycle part Wrench Garden tool Hand tool Wood Metalworking hand tool Tool Font Wood Hand tool Tool Font Art
 

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Gorgeous stick work, cobalt..... Very nice!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
MoroCreek,

I started brewing when the wife saw a homebrew kit in an Ace hardware store made by Mr. Brew. It makes a 2 1/2 gallon batch of beer from pre-hopped malt syrup. Pretty simple, and not very time consuming, but it got me to brewing. I doubled up on the kits right away, to make 5 gallons (about 48-52 twelve ounce bottles).

If you do have brew supply stores around, most have a local homebrew club close by. Just enquire about a local club, and go visit a meeting. You'll have a lot of fun. Just be carefull driving back home!

The hot air gun looks like a hair drier, only on steroids. In Hardware stores they are sold to strip paint, thaw fozen pipes, bend and soften plastic tiles, etc. Mine is a Wagner HT3500 Heat Tool. It will make 1350 degrees F. , enough to start a lot of things on fire.

Standing deadwood. I have an Apple tree that was planted in 1966 when my house was built. It has suffered damage due to weather several times, and limbs have died, yet the tree goes on growing in a new direction. The limbs don't fall off, they just stay on the tree. Naturally cure with no contact with the ground. Some spalt, some don't. This Apple tree has never been pruned properly, as it mostly feeds wildlife. A beautiful crop of young apples will be knocked off this tree by storms every year while still green, leaving only 2 dozen or less to ripen. Can't even make Cider out of what is left at harvest time.
 

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Thanks Fordj for the info. I've seen the Mr. Brew kits on the Internet. And I think the 2 1/2 gal kit would be plenty for me. I don't do much drinking anymore. But the darks are quite tasty, and I've wondered about brewing my own. I enjoy a Guinness, Grolsch, or St. Pauli Girl on occasion.... Or a Kentucky Sour Mash... Lol.

I'm going to check on the hot air gun. Sounds like it may work better than my wedging green wood into shape and allowing to dry for a year or so. On another forum, many let their sticks age for at least a year per inch of diameter..... To avoid the wood checking and splitting on a finished stick.

The standing deadwood I harvest is in the woods we have.... A young sapling, that for whatever the reason, died before growing a lot. I'll give it my "whack" test after cutting it, and if it withstand a few whacks against another tree... IIt's a keeper!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Cobalt,

I like the straightening jigs you've pictured. I do have one of the clamp tables out in my garage. The curved soft jaws in the vise is a very good idea. I have made aluminum soft jaws for use metal working, never thought of "shaped soft jaws". I will definitely be making a few sets of those!

The electric boiler made me think that I do have a veggie/rice steamer that puts out a good amount of very hot steam, and no flame to set blankets on fire. Again, thanks for the help thinking outside the box.

I immediately recognized the sanded thorn of the Hawthorne shaft. That Hazel is a pretty wood. I'm not familiar with thumb sticks, but they do look wicked. To use one, thumb through the "Y" with fingers wrapped below? These sticks must be about 40" to 48" tall, then?

I don't know where to get horn, but I'll research that in the future. In the pic of the wood forks, looks like there is on of Deer Antler. That I can find, though it's very spendy.

Off-Topic here: this "reply to" box is very frustrating! I must have composed this reply 6 times, go to reference a photo, come back and the box is wiped empty. I finally figured out to open a page in office writer to compose, then copy/paste that into the "reply to" box.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
MoroCreek,

I have Volunteer Elm Saplings (trees from wild seed growing in the wrong place) that I will remove this spring when the ground thaws, because I want to get the root burl to use as a handle. Cutting them flush with the ground doesn't work, the roots just send up suckers and it's there again.

Those I'll try to straighten and dry naturally, unless I make a bigger diameter soak tank.
 

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When shanks dry naturally they tend to bend anyway its just natural.But the best way to dry them is to hang them in a cool dry place garage would do...but you dont need a soak tank to straighten them ,Dont you think it defeates the object of drying them for a year in the 1st place?

The root s are great when you can get them but what hard work

MoroCreek,

I have Volunteer Elm Saplings (trees from wild seed growing in the wrong place) that I will remove this spring when the ground thaws, because I want to get the root burl to use as a handle. Cutting them flush with the ground doesn't work, the roots just send up suckers and it's there again.

Those I'll try to straighten and dry naturally, unless I make a bigger diameter soak tank.
 

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I keep meaning to try out a domestic steam cleaner .not sure what you call them over there ,but women have then to clean grease etc its just a hand held perssure typ thing with a jetof steam that removes dirt etc of grout in bathrooms .ovens etc ,perhaps not explaining it very well .we just call them hand held steam cleaners,dont know if it would work?

You shouldnt have a problem getting horn ,but it is quite a skill to manipulate it and think you would need some advice on it from someone locally to you.You can get books and there is a video tape on it by someone called flintoft i belive ,i am going to try and find it myself .Mainly i just ask the local guys i know who make market sticks etc,

Rams horn is near enough hollow there is just i call it a typoe of waxy substance in it Water buffalo horn is generall black and is solid ,its not that expensive, but you can work any horn if done correctly

As to thumb stick generally the height of them is between the shoulder and the elbow ,just depends on preferance,but normally no lower than the elbow jiont you can make thumb sticks from anything any wood etc just fasten them to a shank with a threaded bar with epoxy resin

Cobalt,

I like the straightening jigs you've pictured. I do have one of the clamp tables out in my garage. The curved soft jaws in the vise is a very good idea. I have made aluminum soft jaws for use metal working, never thought of "shaped soft jaws". I will definitely be making a few sets of those!

The electric boiler made me think that I do have a veggie/rice steamer that puts out a good amount of very hot steam, and no flame to set blankets on fire. Again, thanks for the help thinking outside the box.

I immediately recognized the sanded thorn of the Hawthorne shaft. That Hazel is a pretty wood. I'm not familiar with thumb sticks, but they do look wicked. To use one, thumb through the "Y" with fingers wrapped below? These sticks must be about 40" to 48" tall, then?

I don't know where to get horn, but I'll research that in the future. In the pic of the wood forks, looks like there is on of Deer Antler. That I can find, though it's very spendy.

Off-Topic here: this "reply to" box is very frustrating! I must have composed this reply 6 times, go to reference a photo, come back and the box is wiped empty. I finally figured out to open a page in office writer to compose, then copy/paste that into the "reply to" box.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
cobalt,

I'm just being impatient when I want to soak a stick, as I have no sticks yet, other than standing deadwood or dead fall. Even those are surprisingly dry and brittle. With extended winter days below 0 F (-16 C), moisture just wicks out of the deadwood.

The Red Maple I cut this September is still wet, so I soaked my first walking stick length of it over this last weekend, just to stabilize it. I worked it today, and have it now clamped to straighten it, will let it dry for at least a week before I check it again. Only time will tell if the soak works, but that day is still 2 years in the future. Meanwhile, I'm having fun making a few sticks.

I was right, then, guessing about the thumb sticks. I can see making a few of those in the future. Working with horn will have to wait until I can find a source, first. The Water Buffalo Horn topper is beautiful. I like that one a lot.

Steam Cleaners are hard to find now. Too many people got burned, and are highly discouraged by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Just pressure washers are used, unless you want to spend several thousand dollars on a commercial unit, then it is just heated water through a pressure washer, not steam. 10 t0 15 PSI of real steam has been replaced by up to 4200 PSI of pumped 160 degree F water. That's safer? It will cut paint off of a car! I know, I've done it.
 

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I understand the impatient part .havnt you any local source?

You can make thumb sticks from anything branches wood blocks and metal .

Some thumbsticks just have a centre hole in them to slide the thumb through and decoration on the top .There okay but watch it if you fall over could break the thumb.

steam cleaners not some thing i have used yet ,they dont look very safe but a wallpaper stripper sounds alright .One of the members here has sugessted attaching it to some plastic drain pipe putting some sort of center peice in to hold the shank out of the water and pushing steam through it, ?i suppose a kettle would do the same thingas long as you have a hole at the other end of the pipe ,could have possibilitys?

when i made a couple of policemens helmets for my granchidrens puppets (where for the punch and judy show i did for them) i noticed how strong the helmet is made from paper mache .this has the possibilty of making light weight toppers .the policemas helemet only took and hour to make about 3 days to dry depends on the weather .the helmet is hollow ,but it does offer a alternative to carving its cheap and once seled stromg its easily painte and could easily be replaced if damaged
 
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