Hiking sticks can be constructed of several types of wood, including birch, willow and fir. What type you choose depends on what you need the stick for. Rough mountaineering will require a harder wood than meandering walks. Choose oak, beech or ash when using a stick heavily; alder, pine and fir can be used for lighter hiking. After you pick a type of wood, you can choose what kind of finish--stains, shellacs or polyurethanes--to add to your hiking stick. You also can carve elaborate designs in it, or leave it simple.
Once you select a type of wood, find either a dry piece of wood or a standing sapling that is 2 inches in diameter at what will be the handle part of the hiking stick and 1 1/2 inches in diameter at the end. You can find these in your backyard or at a tree trimming company if you ask them to save a branch from the type of tree you want. Some people take the bark off the wood, while others leave the bark on for strictly aesthetic purposes. Let a green piece of wood season (air dry); ideally, green wood should be seasoned in a dry and covered place for thee months. Once the wood is ready, cut a hole for your strap, which can be leather or a synthetic material. Then sand the wood smooth with 400-grit sand paper. Carve it, stain it, and finish it with a polyurethane coat.
A handmade hiking stick often has more strength and durability than a store-bought hiking stick because you can control the thickness, coatings and quality of the stick. Many store-bought hiking sticks have small cracks in them from drying; by making a homemade hiking stick, you can see each crack that could compromise its strength as you work on it. You can use a homemade hiking stick during hikes, long walks and even for protection from dogs while out on foot. A hiking stick provides you with support, safety and comfort when hiking, too. A homemade hiking stick often feels better in your hand because it can be tailored to fit your needs.
The wood you use for your homemade walking stick should be readily available so you have enough to make two or more hiking sticks. Also remember that the harder the wood, the harder it will be to finish. Take a knife with you when you look for wood, and see how easily you can make a small scratch in it.
Never sharpen the tip of a hiking stick into a point. The tip of a stick can get stuck in mud, causing you to lose grip on it. It can also break off, which causes loss in traction and stability. Instead of a point, make the end flat or purchase a rubber skid for better control and traction.