How to Build Walking Sticks

How to Build Walking Sticks
Walking paths and trails are generally safe to navigate, but can be unstable in certain conditions or if you are carrying heavy backpacks. Walking sticks give you added stability during foot travel and can help prevent slipping, tripping and stumbling. With a few common woodworking supplies and a couple of hours of work, you can make a walking stick that will be suitable for use on trails and footpaths.


Difficulty: Moderate

Building Your Walking Stick

Things You’ll Need:
  • Seasoned stick
  • Saw
  • Knife
  • Gloves
  • Electric drill
  • Sandpaper
  • Stain
  • Polyurethane or Shellac
  • Leather cordage
Step 1
Acquire a seasoned (dry) stick that is approximately the height from the ground to your shoulder, 2 inches in diameter at the top and 1 ½ inches in diameter at the bottom. To test for dryness, cut a small piece off the end of the stick---it should cut easily with a saw and the sawdust should be dry. Use a hardwood such as oak or cherry for rough usage, and use softwoods such as fir and alder for mild usage.
Step 2
Strip the bark off the stick using a knife. You may choose to cut down the stick and peel the bark off, or run the knife down the stick perpendicular to it. Wear leather gloves to protect your hands when using sharp objects.
Step 3
Cut off any remaining protrusions where limbs used to be using a saw. Avoid cutting into the stick itself to keep its structure intanct. Also cut both ends of the stick so they are flat.
Step 4
Drill a hole through the stick 1 inch above where your hand-grip will be. Use a 3/16 inch drill bit and drill slowly to prevent chipping and damage to the area surrounding the hole.
Step 5
Sand the stick by hand using 100-grit sandpaper to remove the roughest patches and bumps. Follow this by re-sanding the stick with 200-grit sandpaper then finish with 400-grit sandpaper.
Step 6
Stain a small sample piece of the same type of wood your stick is made from to check for coloring and personal preference---repeat until the desired effect is reached. Hang the stick through the hole you drilled by putting it on a bent wire coat hanger. With the stick hanging vertically, stain it while working from top to bottom, then let it thoroughly dry.
Step 7
Apply polyurethane or shellac with the stick still on the coat hanger. Work from top to bottom, cleaning up any streaks or drips as you go. Once completely dry, remove the stick from the hanger.
Step 8
Take 16 inches of leather cordage and run it through the hole you drilled to use as a hand strap. Tie it off using a knot of your choice, making sure that it is securely fastened. You may choose to attach a crutch tip to the end for added traction, or leave it as is for a natural appearance.

Tips & Warnings

You may choose to sand the polyurethane coat with 400-grit sandpaper for an extra smooth and glossy appearance.
You can optionally attach a bell to your hand strap, paint your stick between stain and polyurethane coats, or carve it.
Do not carve the end of your walking stick into a point. This is hazardous and can result in personal injury.

Article Written By Justin Chen

Justin Chen is a freelance writer and photographer with 6 years of professional experience in outdoor activities, extreme sports, travel and marketing topics. His professional work experience includes publication with KOMO 4 News Seattle, Fisher Interactive Network, and Demand Studios. He is a current Pre-Med student at Walla Walla University.

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