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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I realise I may be speaking heresy by asking this, but usually when I make thumbsticks out of hazel or ash, I let the sticks dry for at least 12 months before I finish them off. Blackthorn needs 2 years apparently, so my questions are what happens if you work them immediately and by that I mean steam and straighten them and add the brass ferrule. Is it possible to kiln dry them or is that a bad idea? If kiln drying is ok, how does one build and heat something like that? It only needs to hold about a half a dozen sticks at a time. I've just found this lovely blackthorn thumbstick and I have to wait 2 years? Torment.
 

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Drying time can vary with climate. In a dry environment with good air circulation some woods are good to use in about 9 months. A general rule is achieving 12% to 15% moisture content for most hard woods. Some use wood at 20% . Kiln drying requires the ability to control the percentage of moisture loss per day. The amount of maximum loss per day is different with many species woods. You will need to look up the woods you want to dry. Drying to fast will crack the wood. Green wood will often not hold the straighten shape as it dries.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you Mr CV3. I'm in Britain so winters can be wet, like at the moment. I think rather than ruin what green sticks I have, I will be patient and wait. Thank you for your reply.
 

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It's a good question. I know for me waiting for sticks to dry is one of the hardest aspects of stick making. Harder, denser woods take more time to dry. For a really good stick I wouldn't want to chance rushing it. If you have room, pick more sticks than you'll likely need in a year. After a while you'll have a good supply to work with all the time.

Rodney
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
It's a good question. I know for me waiting for sticks to dry is one of the hardest aspects of stick making. Harder, denser woods take more time to dry. For a really good stick I wouldn't want to chance rushing it. If you have room, pick more sticks than you'll likely need in a year. After a while you'll have a good supply to work with all the time.

Rodney
Thanks Rodney. You are right of course. Patience is a virtue they tell me.
 

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One of the things you have in the UK we do not have over here are numerous places to buy sticks that have been cure and are ready to go. There are only 4 I know of in the US, And I have not always been Happy with what I have been sent. If you use face book you may want to try this group "Stickmakers and Suppliers (SAS)"
 

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"Patience is a virtue they tell me."

It must be. It's hard to obtain.

There are ways to speed up drying. I'm not sure if you would be able to straighten the stick afterward though. Unseasoned green wood can be steam bent (or straightened) but will return to it's former shape after a while. We have another member here that has been fighting that issue.

Boiling small pieces seems to help with drying, Boiling can also help with checking. Soaking in alcohol also helps. The alcohol displaces the water then evaporates faster than the water would.

I'm not sure about how either method would affect straightening the stick.

I have seen small kilns built out of not much more than a cardboard box and a light bulb. I'm not sure how effective the method is. Kiln dried wood has a reputation for not steam bending easily, if at all, but it can be done. I've done it with oak before for rocking chair runners. I steamed them and clamped them in a jig for several days to let them dry. There was some spring back when I removed them.

I've decided that for me at least "Hurry up and wait" is the best method.

Sometimes, depending on the stick and your drying conditions, you can get away with less drying time but a year per inch of thickness is a safe rule of thumb for drying times.

The best advice I can give is pick at least twice as many sticks as you think you'll need for a year. I thought I picked enough last year and am low on cured sticks again this winter. I had a far better year selling sticks than I expected and have run short. This winter I've picked around 70 and want to get t least 30 more so I'm not in this position again next year.

Rodney
 

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Somewhere on the site is a thread from a maker who wants to try something his father (or was it grandfather?) did which was to put the stock to be dried in a metal locker and put a heat lamp in with it. Said it worked great for walnut gunstock blanks. Sped up the drying time significantly.

I've had some success drying small pieces for handles using a microwave. Obviously it wouldn't work for full size sticks, but if you had a dry shank and needed a dry bit of wood for a handle, it might do.

http://walkingstickforum.com/topic/5753-wood-kiln/
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
One of the things you have in the UK we do not have over here are numerous places to buy sticks that have been cure and are ready to go. There are only 4 I know of in the US, And I have not always been Happy with what I have been sent. If you use face book you may want to try this group "Stickmakers and Suppliers (SAS)"
That is interesting about the availability of seasoned sticks Mr. CV3. Normally for us in the UK we can only watch in envy at the availability (and prices) of supplies in the US of most things generally. Certainly things like brass or steel ferrules can be expensive unless you shop around. I have found one of the best suppliers is in Scotland, whereas eBay and Amazon can be very expensive. For example steel ferrules can be bought for about $6 for 5 pieces, which I think is quite good. Again sir, thank you for your post.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Somewhere on the site is a thread from a maker who wants to try something his father (or was it grandfather?) did which was to put the stock to be dried in a metal locker and put a heat lamp in with it. Said it worked great for walnut gunstock blanks. Sped up the drying time significantly.

I've had some success drying small pieces for handles using a microwave. Obviously it wouldn't work for full size sticks, but if you had a dry shank and needed a dry bit of wood for a handle, it might do.
Yes, thank you, I found that and have digested it all. But I wonder if quantities of silica gel might work for instance given time to do its work?
 

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There are loads of stickmaking groups all over the country . you should be able to contact them through the stickmakers guild

As CV3 suggested try the stickmakers and suppliers facebook site .You see some exceptional stickmakers on there .

I live on the east coast in Boston and the Lincolnshire group had around 50 members and there are groups in Derbyshire so there should be a group local to you.

Hazel is plentiful around here no one seems to harvest I just give a small donation to the woodland group ,but still have around fifty shanks around 2 years old.so Always cut more then you need ,You will ask yourself why the devil did I cut some of them as you can be to keen to get some cut .. I could easily cut fifty in a day and still be particular with size and quality. But still have difficulty in finding top quality ones, but most are good sound working shanks

So don't cut ones with dogs legs in them you cant straighten them, wouldn't cut any that's been rubbing along a branch and cut then slightly longer than you need that way you can cut the top of the shank around the inch in diameter(25mm).And look for thumb sticks there always popular

welcome to the site
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thank you Cobalt. I do prefer just making thumbsticks. At the moment I'm not interested in going to next level attaching antler or buffalo horn. These are working sticks for beating only. I always try to avoid facebook if I can, so I'll use my daughter's account. Thanks for your advice.
 

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Using a moisture meter helps, surprising how quickly some shanks dry, use when round 15% wet, got my meter from Maplin, not too expensive but they do take the guess work out.
 
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