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I'm a "newbie" to making walking sticks, and after hours of research I am still confused about which products I should use and the steps in which to use them. It seems like most people have a specifc process or combination of oils, stains or finishers that work best for them. I have access to a bunch of tobacco sticks that are 70+ years old. I was hoping to make a few walking sticks out of them for family since the farm has been in the family for over 100 years.

I guess my question would be, what process and products would you recommend for turning a tobacco stick into a walking stick? I spent hours cleaning them to ensure the surface is clean. I'm unsure if I need to sand them at all and if products such as tung oil or linseed oil would work well on a tobacco stick.

Thanks for reading,

Jennifer
 

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Hi Jennifer! I'm glad you are here.

First off, A walking stick is pretty low tech. The methods and products we use are for the most part subjective, chosen by each individual to achieve a personal idea of perfection. Experimentation is part of the fun of building.

Finishes come in 3, maybe 4 groups. First is penetrating oils. Boiled linseed oil, Tung oil, there are other proprietary brands; they all are used the same and all function more or less the same. They penetrate into the wood and give a wonderful color to the wood grain. They give very little protection to the wood from moisture and physical attack. However, it is easy to apply more oil when needed

Next is Hard surface finishes. These include various kinds of varnish, spar varnish, lacquer, water based products, etc. These are all products that are applied to the surface of the wood. Their plus is they protect much better from moisture and abrasion; however when damaged they are more difficult to repair. (sand down and recoat) Some of these products and brands are more useful than others. Varnished generally provide a more durable surface than lacquer.

A third category of product is a combination of the previous two; an oil mixed with a varnish. An example of this would be Danish Oil. Some folks make a homemade version of this.

A fourth category would be no finish at all. It is possible to give your stick a coat of beeswax and call it good.

I want to assure you that everyone on this board prefers their favorite finish, and no one is wrong. Clear as mud, right?
 

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Welcome!

Pretty much what LilysDad said. It comes down to personal preference. I haven't seen a tobacco stick in person so I may not be of much help.

I'm thinking in your case you probably want to preserve the character of the sticks. To me that means just enough sanding to remove any loose material and splinters while retaining the saw marks. Lightly sanding with 220 grit is probably sufficient. You don't want to be too aggressive.

I prefer oil finishes like tung oil or boiled linseed oil. Both are easy to apply, just wipe on with a rag and let it dry overnight. Apply coats until you're satisfied with how it looks. You can get a nice shine with oil finishes after several coats.

I usually follow up by buffing out the finish with steel wool and paste wax.

Rodney
 

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Welcome aboard, Jennifer!

My experience with tobacco begins and ends with smoking cigars so I'm not sure how much help this will be, but if you have access to a large supply of the sticks, you could experiment with each of the finishes and see which one works the best. Personally, I'm a fan of polyurethane; I like the shine and protection it gives, but that's just me. Downside, it can yellow a bit over the years.

I had to Google tobacco stick to see what they looked like. (I was thinking they were the central stalk the tobacco leaves grew on, and wrote a response based on this which I then deleted. LOL)

Whatever you choose for a finish, be sure to post some pics. We'd all love to see the results.

Dana
 

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Google, " carving tobacco sticks " you will find a number of examples and ides for using tobacco stick for walking sticks. I would also recomend using a oil finish. Tung oil .teak oil or BLO.
 
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