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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have cut three green, soaked in Pentacryl, but still they are six months or more away from finishing.

I have my custom USMC stick that I purchased more than a year ago. The weather is warming and my wife and I have planned lots of walks on trails this year. I want to surprise her with a much nicer stick than I could craft. I'd prefer to support someone here than to buy from an online website.

Meanwhile, I will search for lapel pins and tie tacks that might be used to personalize it a bit.

I'm pretty sure that soon we will have some accomplished vendors on board. Already we have some outstanding craftsmen.

If you make sticks for sale and can personalize them, please show me some examples.

Thanks,

Vance
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Lewey, I have my wife's project committed to Shawn now. BUT, let's discuss another project.

I am working on a sorry attempt at an Irish Shillelagh, in memory of my Granddad. I would be interested in help with a real one.

My Granddad was a WWI veteran, he served in France. I visited him right after Marine Corps boot camp. I had been a high school jock and by then I thought I was really a tough guy. We were sitting out on the porch and I was probably bragging about something, as young men can do, and he chuckled. He told me "I'd put my money on an old man with a good shillelagh any day, over some young toughs." I thought that was pretty good, and I have been giving some thought to an authentic Irish blackthorn shillelagh, cane length, stained black to emulate the blackening process of old, with a rough shaft and a polished handle. This would remind me of one of my all-time heroes, my grandfather.

Have you ever done anything like that? I'd bet it would be expensive to acquire the blackthorn.
 

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I have a honey locust soaking in Pentacryl, to experiment with. There is no root attached, as woth a proper shillelagh. It isn't as straight as it should be, and it is too thick. Still, if I messed up a good find while learning, that would be bad.

I ordered broke down and ordered a shillelagh made from Irish Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) for a "go by." It arrived within a week from http://www.fashionablecanes.com/5095.html. I expected to be a bit disappointed, and I am. The tip is a really cheap looking rubber tip. The finish is nothing special. It lacked the strap shown on the advertisement. I used an option on the order form to request a few extra inches in length. After the order, I received a phone call and was advised that only 36" shillelaghs were available. Still, this gives me a good look at the objective. I know I can do much better, if I can grow or purchase Blackthorn that is straight enough.

Once again, I was disappointed in this product offered by http://www.fashionablecanes.com/5095.html, and their handling of my order.

Correction: http://www.fashionablecanes.com/hiking_staffs_walking_sticks.html
Maybe this one will work.
 

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Shillelagh can be oak (it actually means 'oak club' in Gaelic). While traditionally blackthorn, you don't really gain anything by just using it. I nice oak club will suffice :) (or any hardwood for that matter).

You can find a nice sappling oak about 1.5'' to 2'' in diameter and chase it to its root and dig a little you can see it's shape. If it spreads out a few more inches, dig it up. Also if you walk fence lines where the city/county bush hog, you can find stumps with decent suckers coming out. If the suckers are fairly straight (nobody said a shillelagh had to be straight) and 1.5'' to 2'' you can cut the stump about 4'' or 5'' down flip it over and trim it up. Really all you are doing is shaping the topside to a round shape. You can use a shaver, bandsaw, angle grinder, knives and/or sandpaper to smooth it up then poly it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Shillelagh can be oak (it actually means 'oak club' in Gaelic).
Yes, I too discovered that while reading. I think that they switched to blackthorn when the oak forests had been largely cut. I have soaked one oak candidate in Pentacryl for this purpose. It has some crooks, but I'll consider those as character. There is no root, but there was a sharp bend of nearly 90 degrees that probably resulted from a very old loss of the main branch, and it then healed over. I've left the bark on at the top until I decide what to do there, and shaved it down to about 1 1/2" diameter below. Now it's just drying because I cut it green.

Great idea to look for suckers! I hadn't thought of that, and now I will be on the lookout.

So far, I'm just using my KA-BAR, pocket knives, wood carving hand tools, rasps, and sandpaper, and once in a while a drill or drill press. As with my limited stone sculpture, I've decided to do it as the Romans, or in this case the Gauls, did it. It can be done, it just takes a lot more time and patience.

After months of drying I plan to round off the handle part and see how it looks. I bought some dyes at Woodcraft that are supposed to mix well with WATCO Danish Oil. I bought a dark brown and a cherry (?) or red (?) that I plan to mix in equal proportions, and then add 10% by volume to the Danish Oil. The easy way would be just to measure about 3 fl oz of the dye with a quart of Danish Oil, and use this quart just for this purpose. I'm hoping that the result is a very dark red-brown stain like some of the shillelaghs I've seen, and the one I just bought. I think that I can do a lot better than the "go-by" that I bought, and I will have complete control over the length.

Also, I've ordered blackthorn seeds and hope to start them in peat pots before Spring arrives. I have retainer walls on two sides of my garden, and I can probably transplant them along those walls if I don't get too much flak from my wife and daughter (because of the grandkids).

Thanks JJireh, for the ideas. Those should add lots of possibilities for me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Saturday, I stumbled on a skinney but fairly straight young cedar, an invasive species here and deer had recently stripped about two feet of bark, so it would die, thus I figured same as deadwood in this park area. It's soaking in pentacryl. I dug out a bit or root too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Lewey sent me a very nice shillelagh a couple of years ago, for my wife's travel stick. It's the length of my shortest hiking stick. Together the two can be packed at less then the l+w+h max of 62" to avoid the extra baggage charge at the airport.

I'm tempted to purchase a nice bag from L.L. Bean to better protect these sticks when checked as baggage.
 

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True a shillelagh can be any wood. They say Hawthorne makes a good substitute for blackthorn. I like ash suckers, they grow fairly straight and always have a nice root knob. By the way, a traditional stain was black shoe polish rubbed in with steel wool, gives a nice color and most polishes contain beeswax.
 
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