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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am from North Dakota, where there are not a lot of trees, yet a large variety of trees and shrubs good for making walking sticks. I'm a good portion Irish, so shillelaughs are my goal.

Research on prunus spinosa (blackthorn) indicated that it grows here. That led me to wanting to find some, and make my own walking stick, staff, and fighting stick. I've hovered about this site for a day or so, and learned more about sticks than I ever thought possible.
 

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Welcome to the site

I am a comparative newcomer here and you will find the people friendly although they speak there minds and do have diffrent views which is good thing as it devlops different ideas and approaches to many things.

I think that th blackthorn makes one of the best shanks you will get although i also like chestnut and hazel.

If you know where there are shanks to cut , do it soon before the sap rises and season them well . I season mine for 2 years slthough they say a year per 1". Mine are steam straightened after seasoning..If your try to straighten them before seasoning them the chances are they will bend again.

I have my shanks straight although many here think it gives the stick more character to leave some kinks in,its just a different viewpiont, but i think that it cant take the same wieght load if bent.A hiking pole should last a lifetime

There are diffrent styles of stickmaking here and no doubt you will find your own.Mine is very english in my approach and like leg cleeks and market sticks made from diffrent horn ,but my main type is carving hiking poles

but good luck
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Cobalt,

I just started researching making my own sticks after I bought a synthetic shilleaugh from Cold Steel. It looked good on the Web, but is dissapointing in real life. I pruned my Hawthorn trees two springs ago, and those prunings are still in my brushpile. Once the weather gets above freezing again, I'll go dig them out to see if they are worth making into a stick. From what I remember, those prunings were up to 1 1/4" thick. They were also very tough to cut, and very light once cut. The thorns are very sharp, too!

Chestnut and hazel will be very hard to find here, but there are other varieties of strong, dense wood that I want to try.

The conditioning, drying, and straightening processes I am still learning about. I've spent most of two days reading this site, and following the mentioned links, so right now my brain is still digesting a lot of info. I do like the looks of a stick with a little crook in it.

Smalltowngirl13,

Thanks for the welcome!
 

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Welcome to the site! I would also love to have some blackthorn -- but it is important to note that the first Irish Shellelagh were made from Oak, although there were a few other woods used, Oak was the preferred until the Britsh wiped out the Oak Forests in Ireland. So if you have any young oaks you can dig up -- you are in business! :) I made my first one out of Crab Tree.
 

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Hi Fordj. Welcome to the WS Forum!

Good to know about the 'synthetic' CS shillelagh. I saw it in a catalogue once and had wondered about the material. You're right; looks good in the photos tho.

I'm new too, and very much in crazy
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learning mode, so not helpful to anyone at the moment.

Good luck with your blackthorn and hawthorn projects!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Rad,

Oak is one of my favorite woods, Gambel and Bur Oak grow here, though most other varieties won't due to drought intolerance. The Blackthorne has a similar problem, unless it is grown close to a year round water source. Where I can find Blackthorne, I might find Oak, I'll keep my eyes open.

Crab-apple, Apple, Apricot, Pecan, various Cherry are fruitwoods that grow here. Lots of varieties of Ash, Elm, and Cottonwood are the mainstay hardwoods here. Russian Olive is a tall shrub/tree that is extremely tough that's quite common for tree rows that I think would make a good stick. Lots of Evergreens have also been planted here. Spruce more than Pine or Juniper.

A native Juniper exists here, though it only grows about 9" tall, as a low growing ground cover on the peaks of low hills. Not stick material. Interesting shrub, though, as most are several hundred years old, I'm told. All the Rancher/Farmers hold them in high regard, and won't till them under. They are proud to have them as evidence of native prairie.

Thistle,

Love your picture of the tree as your avatar!

I bought this house 8 years ago, and didn't realise the wealth of stick material I had until over these holidays, due to the Cold Steel Shellilaugh. Didn't even know the "thorn trees" were Hawthorne until I decided to look into real shillilaughs. I was quite exited to find out that I have such a wood growing in my fenceline! My house is surrounded by trees, and the Hawthornes are quite light starved, so I probably won't do very much cutting on them. They have a tough enough life without me hacking on them! I know wild hawthorne along the creek here that aren't in such a bad location that I can harvest from.
 

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Hello to you in No. Dakota. Was in the middle of making a welcome post yesterday, but an emergency cropped up.

At any rate, I've been somewhat surprised by the variety of woods you have in your area. While I've not travelled thru No. Dakota, I did pass thru So. Dakota. My recollection was of endless grassy horizons, with outcrops in the distance having some pine on them. Trees every now and then, mostly around dwellings.

I see that you have box elder. That's quite common where I live. Very quick growing, and hard to kill. There's one down the block from me that has been ripped apart by storms at least once a decade, and comes back from the stump. Not long ago I came across a site selling various wood trunk cross sections for table tops. They had a number of box elder sections. They had erratic shapes, evidently from repeated storm damage. There was some good looking red colored grain mixed in w. the overall white hued wood.

My only encounter w. box elder was cutting one up that fell in my back yard. I just used a bow saw, and was easily able to reduce the tree to small sections. My recollection was that the green wood was rather mushy. Yesterday I looked up the wood hardness rating, and found that while it is a maple, it is a good bit softer than other maples. I see that it is a bit harder than sassafras, which I have used. Sassafras has a rather coarse grain, but it surprisingly rigid for its weight. My recollection of box elder grain is that it was finer. I suspect it would be good for carving, but am unsure if it would be suitable for a sturdy stick.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
gdenby,

When North Dakota was populated starting in the 1870's by use of the Homestead Act, there were very few trees. Early on, the Agricultural Department started testing various trees to use as windbreaks, trying to find trees that would survive the harsh conditions here. It is still an ongoing program. In rural areas, if you order tree seedlings in the fall, Ag will plant them in springtime for you for $1.00 per seedling.

There is a testing arboretum about 25 miles from my house that still has living Blackthorne (they call it Sloe after its berrys as its common name) planted in 1976.

At Dickinson, in the town where I work, there is another Arboretum attached to the University that planted Blackthorne in 1978, but that one has since died.
 

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Thank you, Fordj!

The prickly hawthorne belongs to the rose family. Lots of wonderful uses for it -- culinary, medicinal, and of course landscaping. Very very useful to have around you and for attracting wildlife.

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I love trees too! I always advise hobbyists to consult with a certified arborist or someone knowledgeable. Trees and shrubs benefit from seasonal pruning, but needs to be implemented properly to prevent disease and damage. Also to ease your mind about "hacking" on them. You should be able to prune in early spring before blossoms appear.

I love hearing that you care about the trees.
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Enjoy your hawthorne!!

Thistle,

Love your picture of the tree as your avatar!

I bought this house 8 years ago, and didn't realise the wealth of stick material I had until over these holidays, due to the Cold Steel Shellilaugh. Didn't even know the "thorn trees" were Hawthorne until I decided to look into real shillilaughs. I was quite exited to find out that I have such a wood growing in my fenceline! My house is surrounded by trees, and the Hawthornes are quite light starved, so I probably won't do very much cutting on them. They have a tough enough life without me hacking on them! I know wild hawthorne along the creek here that aren't in such a bad location that I can harvest from.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks, Thistle.

I didn't know about the culinary and medicinal uses. I'll have to research those. I did read that Hawthorne is related to the Rose, that helped explain the extreme thorns it has.

I will prune in the spring, early.
 

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Howdy Neighbor,

I'm Rustic Dave, a new guy to this site, and very happy to be here with all these stick makers

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You'll find my intro at the top of this section, with a picture of some of my sticks. In recent months I've been interested in making rustic shillelagh style walking sticks, so I've done some research. Shillelagh is village in Ireland, at the center of once a vast oak forest....until the English commandeered most of it for their own use. So the blackthorn began to be used as a suitable replacement in Ireland, but it was oak walking sticks in England that became "Shillelaghs", in the beginning.

If you really want a fighting stick, a real fighting stick with lots of thump, hickory, "impact grade" hickory, is one of the very best. Oak is fine, but hickory is better. Go to your local hardware store and check out the impact tools replacement handles...hickory, and well under 20 bucks. Take a look at my picture, the third from the right stick...it's a sledgehammer handle. The second from the right is a Douglas-fir stick of the rustic Shillelagh style. A little more character, but not as strong or tough as the hard woods.

Best Regards
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Hi, Rustic Dave, Welcome to this site!

Hickory doesn't grow here, but another favorite "tool handle" wood does. There are lots of Ash trees, both Green Ash and Black Ash, that are easy to find. I have one nearly finished Green Ash walking stick, and I will be making a shillelagh of Black Ash soon. Shillelaghs are just shorter than I tend to like to make sticks, so I really haven't tried that style yet. I've only been making sticks since New Years, so I'm real young at this!

I just found out that a farmer friend of mine does have some indigenous Bur Oak on his land, and I got permission to harvest a few sticks, So I will be going out to his land and getting a few shillelagh blanks.

Now, I'll go and read your intoduction post.

Again, Welcome to the Walking Stick Forum!
 
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