I have started a couple silver maple walking sticks that were from a storm damaged tree and found on ground at the county park last fall.
The park suffered a fair amount of storm damage summer 2013. Bad for the trees, good for the stick maker.
I have worked with silver maple on several sticks it is a "soft" wood relatively speaking, but makes a nice stick and is fairly easy to carve. If you debark it, it has a tendency to give blotchy results when stained. A conditioner minimizes this problem.
I have started to leave the bark intact, sand, apply linseed oil and use polyurethane for finish. Makes for interesting color contrasts.
The pic on the lefty is a "raw" piece of silver maple. The pic on the right the stick has bark left on, sanded to 150 grit and a couple coats of linseed oil applied.
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