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Snettymakes

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After stumbling across Shawn Gillis on instagram and spending hours browsing through his amazing walking sticks, and having hit the ripe old age of 40 recently, I felt inspired to try my hand at making one.

As this is my first attempt I wanted to avoid making any design decisions and focus on how to technically make a walking stick that is straight and won't break. I found and printed a template for the handle, selected some stock and set about cutting it out on the bandsaw. A quick cleanup and heavy round over was all it took to rather well resemble a walking stick handle.

I forget whether I had seen it on @walkingwithwood's posts, or just assumed from seeing similar builds, but either way, I drilled mortices in the handle and the cane stock to accept a brass pin. I also cut a piece of brass sheet for a transition. Epoxying these onto the handle was straight forward.

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Unfortunately my efforts to get the mortice in the can straight were less successful. I had some latitude in the oversized stock, which allowed me to straighten it somewhat when cutting away the excess. In hindsight this has resulted in a different grain pattern than you might expect, and thinking about now that could increase the probability of some warping? We'll see, but food for thought. Anyway, I eventually got the cane fulled glued (epoxied) up.

tempImageqWrJGL.png

I've not used a spoke shave much before this, so I was quite apprehensive about shaping the cane by hand. I shouldn't have worried and in just 30 minutes I had it well shaped and ready for clean up and refining.

tempImage0S2spz.png
 

Snettymakes

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I've since cleaned up the walking stick, sanding up through the grits and I'm experimenting with finishes. Whilst the wood is very pale, I like how it looks and want to just accentuate that. Unfortunately experimenting with Shellac and Hard Wax Oil both change the colour far too much for my liking. Its not horrible, but it results in a very orange colouring. I have some Cotton White Rubio that I might have a quick play with.

A question remains around the wood itself for me. I bought if from the scraps bin of my local hardwood timber merchant and they weren't very forthcoming on what it was. If anybody could hazard a guess, I'd appreciate knowing what I'm playing with.

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Beanwood

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Looks good. When I did my stick making course, we drilled the mortise in the handle, but whittled the cane to fit the hole, (Which we then epoxied together) rather than introducing a brass rod. Made for a very strong joint.
 

Snettymakes

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Looks good. When I did my stick making course, we drilled the mortise in the handle, but whittled the cane to fit the hole, (Which we then epoxied together) rather than introducing a brass rod. Made for a very strong joint.
Interesting, that makes perfect sense.
 

Snettymakes

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Thanks guys, I think that settles it, it's Ash.

I'm struggling with the finish now. I've tried Shellac, Hard Wax Oil and Cotton White Rubio Monocoat. Both of the first two darken the wood too much for my liking, resulting in more orange in the colour than I'm happy with. The Cotton White Rubio was just awful looking, which makes sense as I'm looking for a gloss finish, and Rubio definitely isn't that. I really want to change the colour of the raw ash as little as possible, but I want the high end look of a glossy finish.

Saying that, and going completely the other way, I'm wondering about ebonising the Ash. In pictures iv'e found, the grain looks cool in a really dark finish, and then several coats of Shellac to give the shine that I'm after. I guess brass on black will stand out nicely.

I'll experiment with ebonising over the next few days, but I'd like to hear any other suggestions.
 

Rorschach

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Looking really good.

I know it's your choice but I see an awful lot of black/very dark walking sticks, seems rather dull to me, a lighter finish would be much more eye catching and unusual.
 

Setch

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Go wild - grain fill with black, then sand back so it's only present in the grain, and strain with red. Black, red & brass should look great.
 

Snettymakes

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Go wild - grain fill with black, then sand back so it's only present in the grain, and strain with red. Black, red & brass should look great.
wow, hadn't considered something like that.. wild!
 

Snettymakes

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Looking really good.

I know it's your choice but I see an awful lot of black/very dark walking sticks, seems rather dull to me, a lighter finish would be much more eye catching and unusual.
Any suggestions on how to get the lightest finish possible, whilst it also being glossy/shiny?
 

Sachakins

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If you like shellac, look for clear or blonde shellac.
Personal I would final sand/polish with Yorkshire Grit, then Hampshire Sheen high gloss finish paste wax, then buffing mop.
Or you could go for a lacquer spray can.
 

Snettymakes

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I have a shelf full of water based poly, but for some reason I shy away from it. Not that I'm experienced enough to really have "go to" finishes 🤷🏻‍♂️.

Sounds like I'm going to be doing more test pieces tonight. My water based poly is quick drying though, so at least I should be able to make a decision tonight.
 

Snettymakes

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Ooops, I've been so busy making more walking sticks that I forgot to provide the update for this stick.

The water based poly was perfect, exactly the look I was after. Here's the final product.
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I've now got another 4 canes on the go, hoping to set up a little Etsy shop to try my hand at actually selling a product.
 

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