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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all, newbie here looking for advice on my first walking stick. I have a really nice piece of basswood that suits me perfectly. A neighbor helped me to cut it to size and I'm figuring out what my next steps should be. I know basswood is a softer wood that usually used for carving, and that it isn't very rot resistant which is why I intend to stain and/or seal it as my final step. Right now I'm letting it dry out and I've noticed a significant decrease in it's weight and it has become more rigid so that's progress, but I have a few questions about the bark.

1) Will basswood bark naturally fall off when it's dry enough? I had found another stick i my neighbor's woodpile that appeared to be the same type of wood but it was pretty much completely dry and what little bark was left just came right off when I puled it with my hands. Not sure if the dryness is what did it or if there was some other factor so I was hoping some one who actually has experience would be able to tell me.

2) I'm making this stick as part of a costume for a renaissance fair I'm going to next month and I don't know if the stick will be dry enough before then. If the bark isn't going to lose its hold as it dries, or doesn't dry fast enough. what would be the easiest way to remove the bark myself?

3) I read on another forum that you should put wax or sealant on the ends of the stick to keep it from cracking during the drying process, should I be worried about that with basswood?

I'm not looking for perfection here, just something that will be usable and safe. Any help or advice you all can offer would be extremely appreciated!
 

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Your stick isn't going to be dry in a month. A safe rule of thumb is a a year per inch of thickness to dry them and it's best done with the bark on. I peel my sticks with a utility knife or pocket knife. Being green, the bark shouldn't be hard to remove. Expect some splitting as it dries (be happy if you get lucky and it doesn't). That may not matter much though depending on the stick. If you plan to carve it, you want it dry before you start so you don't put all that work in it just to have it split. If it's a simple stick you may get lucky. Peel it, let it dry a day or two, then finish it. The finish will slow the drying much like the bark would have. Sealing the ends does a lot to slow down drying. For finish, I prefer Minwax tung oil finish, but use what you like.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the advice Rodney. I don't intend to carve it aside from making sure there aren't any edges that are too rough so from what you said should I just peel the bark, sand the rough bits, finish, and seal it? Will it matter that the stick hasn't had a all that drying time, for instance will sealing it with its current moisture level have adverse affects on it in the long term?
 

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I can't say for sure. I think leaving it unfinished will be more likely to let it crack as it continues to dry. The finish will seal the wood to some extent at least and slow the drying process down.Most finishes are still somewhat permeable so the y won't eliminate the transfer of moisture, just limit it.
 
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