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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I received so much good information from my first post that I am back in search of more answers. I have been tramping the woods looking for fallen branches suitable for walking stick stock. Attached are photos of two such branches, each black walnut I think. In each, virtually all of the sapwood has rotted away, as you can see in the photos where I carved down to bare wood with a drawknife. On the other example, I have peeled all of the sapwood and weathered wood down to solid wood.

My questions, is there any problem I should anticipate using these for walking sticks? Also, observations on the color variation between these two samples? Also picked up some Oak, Osage Orange and Hickory but they were not nearly as deteriorated. Am I OK on these as long as I work them down to solid wood?

Wood Grass Trunk Terrestrial plant Natural material
Plant Wood Table Natural material Terrestrial plant
Plant Leaf Natural material Wood Terrestrial plant
 

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When i see fallen wood around here I'm suspect of it especially if it lies beneath the tree and not put aside away from the tree in a pile. It doesnt mean it isnt good wood as storms move in and take good wood down.
I look at the end of the branch where it got severed. If the end looks like it would if you took a piece of wet sapling and snapped it in half chances are its good wood. Sometimes wood found will have been sawed and that usually is an indicator of perhaps pruning was done on a tree and the wood should be good.
Bad wood where it came off the tree usually has a look about it, the end looks soft and rotten. Ive sawn the ends of rotten wood branches off flat and you can see sawdust within.
Anyhow, what i usually end up doing to test a piece is give it a flex test if rotten it wont take much to snap it. Hope this helps you a bit.
That wood you have pictured from what i can tell looks pretty good.
 

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If you know who owns the land have a word with the guy he may give you permission to harvest some shanks. If he does make the guy a walking stick/hiking pole it will ensure future harvesting.

I harvest all my own shanks locally when the weather permits . its more fruitful to do this cutting 50-60 shanks takes very little time and I have already earmarked where I shall do this.

In the past I have cut 50-60 in a afternoon and it will help the bush/tree it came from .Hazel grows pretty fast and is a popular source for shanks here so to keep the trees healthy it needs cutting regularly.

I would love to get my hands on some of the species you have over the pond , but I am happy with hazel its a good sound wood and the colour variation on the barks is pretty amazing depending on where its grown.
 

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Not knowing what the circumstances of a downfall can be an issue. I put my through the rigourous test of swinging it against a tree a few times. You can usualy 'feel' the solidity of it. If it breaks....:) If it rattles, it could have splits and checks that cause a problem. the last pic there has a pretty severe crack looks like.
 

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I agree with all the answers above, I tend to use the theory that if I can bend, snap or weaken it (being 290-300lbs) then it must be suitable to use. I know that a lot of you fellas like to strip the bark on your shafts so it won't matter to you if there is any damage to the outside. N.
 

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The woods at my brother's place in east Texas have so many termites that if wood lies on the ground very long, it's ruined. Here in northeastern Oklahoma, it's not so bad. Often wood remains hard and unaffected by termites and other boring insects for months. When others complain about our occasional winter ice storms, I see them as opportunities to easily harvest broken branches that die but sometimes don't reach the soil. Sometimes they've dried a bit without the effects of insects, lessening the curing time in the garage.

I too look for cracking, soft and spongy wood, and sometimes perform the "whack" test against a tree. If the wood remains strong, that "spalting" below the bark can provide interesting detail.
 

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Early on, most of what I gathered had fallen away. Too many ended up having rotten portions within. I started only gathering stuff that was not lying on the ground, and looked to have fallen within a year or so.

I still collect most of my sticks from fallen trees, but I've learned to inspect them very carefully. The stress from snapping in a storm can cause long stress cracks. And, if it fell, there was a good chance there was already insect infestation and/or fungus rot.

Eventually, I started cutting some green wood. There is enough real estate development going on near me that during the past few years I've seen hundreds of acres bulldozed clean. I try to keep an eye out for areas on the verge of development, and harvest a few pieces before the trees are torn up, or get in during the demolition.

Also, around me there are a few trees that grow like weeds, mulberry most prominently, that are not damaged by cutting limbs or sapling away.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks everyone for responding. A lot of good information. I have put or will put all to good use. Just retired and bought a 30 acre place (west/central Missouri) that is more than half woods, untouched for years - it was a park/preserve until the late '70s. Lots of black walnut, hickory, osage orange and locust, some up to 30 inches in diameter. Lots of opportunity. Lots of fun.

Thanks again,

Bill
 

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gdenby said:

There is enough real estate development going on near me that during the past few years I've seen hundreds of acres bulldozed clean. I try to keep an eye out for areas on the verge of development, and harvest a few pieces before the trees are torn up, or get in during the demolition.
Great point! Some of my favorite hiking trails cross clearings under large power lines. If you determine that those contractors who clear shrubs and prune back the trees along those right-of-ways have worked there recently, it sometimes pays to walk along the margins of the clearings. I've found a few "keepers" in brush piles along those clearings.
 

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Thanks everyone for responding. A lot of good information. I have put or will put all to good use. Just retired and bought a 30 acre place (west/central Missouri) that is more than half woods, untouched for years - it was a park/preserve until the late '70s. Lots of black walnut, hickory, osage orange and locust, some up to 30 inches in diameter. Lots of opportunity. Lots of fun.

Thanks again,

Bill
If you're near some of those vineyards, don't have too much fun! ;-)
 

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You show a long radial split in your third picture. It may or may not be a problem structurally. If the stick seems weak toss it or use it for something else.

If you decide to keep the stick you can fill the crack. There are a lot of options for filling it. Epoxy and sawdust works. It's strong and waterproof. You can use pretty much anything solid in the epoxy. I use dried coffee grounds. It dries nearly black. I see a lot of stuff filled with epoxy and crushed stones like turquoise.

You can also use different coloring agents and casting resin for some interesting effects as well.

I've only picked up a few dead sticks. Some were pretty bug eaten under the bark. There are a lot of sticks out there. If you suspect any of being weak, don't bother using them. There's plenty of good ones out there.

I like using fresh picked sticks. I know they're good when I get them.

You're fortunate to have 30 acres of trees to choose from.

Rodney
 
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