How to Carve Hiking Sticks

How to Carve Hiking SticksCreating your own walking stick is an effective and no-cost way to aid experienced and novice hikers alike. It's also a creative way to express yourself on the trails. You just need a solid stick and a few simple tools to get started.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy


Things You’ll Need:
  • Solid stick
  • Pocket knife
  • Sandpaper or rock
  • Optional stain finish and strap
Step 1
Look for a stray piece of wood from your yard or local park. Poplars are an ideal choice for lightweight and easy to carve sticks.
Step 2
Locate a solid stick that is approximately shoulder height or taller. Measure the stick to make sure it's at least 4 or 5 inches in diameter.
Step 3
Use your pocket knife to cut your stick to the desired height and leave extra room for error. Evaluate the length by walking around your yard and cut more off if needed.
Step 4
Use a pocket knife to cut away twigs, knots and rough patches. Determine if you can comfortably hold the stick without something poking your grip.
Step 5
Use a knife to pull away all the bark from the stick. You should be able to see the wood underneath when you are finished.
Step 6
Use a piece of sandpaper or rock to smooth down any remaining edges. Do not over-sand or damage the wood. You can finish the rest of the stick with a piece of fine grain sandpaper or leave it rough.
Step 7
If desired, personalize your stick by adding ornate designs and flourishes with your knife.
Step 8
Use a poly acrylic finish or stain to complete your stick. Apply one coat with a paint brush according to the instructions of the product. Let it dry for at least 24 hours. If you want a darker stain, apply two coats. You can also just leave your hiking stick natural.
Step 9
Use a pocket knife and slowly wind the blade near the top of the stick to carve a dime-sized hole. Do not let the wood splinter. Make sure it's large enough for a wide piece of fabric to pass through.
Step 10
Take a thin piece of fabric or leather and wrap it loosely around your wrist. When you determine the desired length for a loop, use your pocket knife to cut it to size. Ideally, the material should be approximately 1 inch in width. Fold the fabric or leather in half in order to slide it into the hole and tie it off in a knot. Use the loop to hang your stick when it's not in use, or slide your wrist into it while hiking.

Tips & Warnings

Green or moist pieces of wood are easier to carve but may need to dry for several weeks. They also might not be solid enough to use as a walking stick.
Your stick only needs to be cut to your desired height. All finishing and additional carving are optional.
Do not take sticks from parks with no-impact policies or rules about removing natural elements.
Use your pocket knife sparingly and do not force it into the wood. This will help prevent accidental cuts and injury.

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