How to Select Wood for Making Walking Sticks

How to Select Wood for Making Walking Sticks
A walking stick is an intimate companion, and there is satisfaction in carving one of your own. Although it can be hard to tell from looking at a branch caked in mud and moss, their rich interiors offer a great diversity of colors and grain patterns. They also offer varying degrees of malleability. These factors affect the aesthetics of your walking stick as well as the creative process in making it.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Tree identification guide
  • Resource list of wood dealers
Step 1
Determine your level of comfort with carving. If you are just beginning to carve, consider basswood, aspen or butternut. These are among the softest and thus easiest to carve. If you have experience carving, consider harder woods such as walnut, mahogany or cherry. If you choose one of these harder woods, carve with gouges and a mallet.
Step 2
Consider the wood grain's character. If you are a beginner, beware that cherry's wavy grain pine's growth rings can be difficult to carve through. If you have experience carving, you can benefit from the strength of a harder wood with a strong interlocking grain, for example hornbeam and hickory. Alternatively, the tight grain of the soft, malleable basswood makes it good for finer decorative details.
Step 3
Decide whether to paint your walking stick or preserve its natural color. Because it is difficult to stain, basswood is good for painting. If you still want something soft but would like to preserve the natural color of the wood, try butternut. If you have experience carving, you can attain beautiful natural colors with mahogany, cherry or walnut. Mahogany will finish a dark reddish brown; the cherry a light warm brown; and walnut a dark brown.
Step 4
Get familiar with your resources. You can gather sticks in any forest, so knowing which trees are in your region---and learning to identify them---will help you select a wood that's best for you. You can also purchase them through wood dealers.
Step 5
Other good woods for carving include maple, alder, diamond willow, aspen, sassafras or even walking stick cabbage. 

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