Monday, September 28, 2015

Walking Stick-Oak

  I have to walk.  It is about the only exercise that doesn't bother my back, and I do need to exercise because I continue to eat and drink. As a minor foot note, a bit of exercise also helps me sleep better and makes me less cranky generally, so I walk.

  I have found that if I walk with a long stick, not just a cane,  I stand up straighter and have less back pain.  I encourage anyone with lower back pain to give it a try, there are tonnes of places selling hiking staves, trekking poles etc.  because I am cheap, and have a work shop I decided to make my own.

  Years ago I bought a aluminium walking stick and have been using it but I decided as a wood worker I should get busy and make myself a stick.  The one I made a few weeks ago was just a bit too short to serve my purpose. 

   This project began with a six foot long piece of oak that had been used as trim in an old house.  My guess is that this piece of wood was used to fill a gap beside a book case or cupboard, it was slightly tapered over its length so it had been used to fill an uneven space.  This piece of wood also had a few nail holes in it, as a Wood Junkie  I had saved it because I knew it would be useful one day.  

  The first thing I did, you may be able to see if you look at the far end.  I tapered the end that was going to get the rubber foot.  Once I got that end sized properly then it was easy to taper the length of the stick using a long straight edge to mark it and my band saw to cut it.

   Once I had the  shape trimmed on the band saw  I used my planes and sanders to round over and shape the edges of the walking staff.  This stick doesn't have any carvings or curly Q's just smooth rounded edges.

  There is no question that this is not a high tech, or high skill project.  So the question is, "Why do walking sticks like this cost $50.00+ in stores?" I think that I will make a few more of these and have them available in the back of each of our cars so that I won' t get caught out.


  Initially I thought I would leave the stick with out a handle but then decided that the wood was a bit slippery.  What I ended up doing was putting bicycle inner tube onto the shaft and then wrapping the tubing with hemp twine and hurricane tape. The tape gives good coverage and helps keep the twine in place. The handle is slightly soft and comfortable to hold the black tape is mostly a design feature, it just looked like it needed something!

 As a follow up many months later. ( we don't even have the car that the stick is  leaving on any longer)

   I have walked with this stick long enough that I just replaced the original rubber foot. Also the handle has been replaced, the tape handle while soft, began to slip and roll.

  My final solution was to glue cheeks of bass wood onto the oak shaft and shape them to be more or less round. Now the handle is large and smooth enough for a comfortable grip.

  Making stuff in the shop makes me happy, making something that has an immediate use makes me even happier and when it turns out to still be useful a couple of years later, well that is just a bonus.

cheers, ianw


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