Stick making

WolframWolfram Citizen
edited October 2020 in Hobbies

In the spirit of aspieness and having unorthodox hobbies, I've sporadically taken up the craft of making walking sticks. "Craft" here being used in the loosest possible sense for the one's I've done so far. But I have a few spots where there grows some quite gnarled bits of Blackthorn and where, on occasion, particularly well-shaped limbs will vanish mysteriously and I'll have a new project piece. I've yet to find a particularly good method to use, and my eagerness for the carving has resulted in me working on much too unseasoned wood resulting in bent and cracked sticks, but nevertheless it's quite meditative work. :)

the least failed of my failures:

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Comments

  • That's incredible! It looks almost like a USB cable on the end and a rose stem at the bottom! What a fascinating and practical hobby you've found! Please keep adding more!! It sounds like you've found quite a niche for yourself!!

  • AmityAmity Administrator, Citizen

    Nice looking Shillelagh you got there, I'm partial to some woodburning myself. Love the smell too.

    From what I recall from my childhood, finding the right piece can take time, unless you have access to plenty of blackthorn to choose from... when you do spy that perfect piece, resist the urge and let it season. The gnarled/knotted pieces, though beautiful, have inherent weaknesses so understanding where to cut on the individual branch can make or break the walking stick when it has seasoned. I remember watching these things unfold.

  • That looks very cool. I love timber and taking up woodworking is still on my "stuff I want to learn" list, despite barely having enough time for the hobbies I already have.

    My wife buys these amazing hair sticks on Etsy, but I'd need a lathe to learn doing that lol.

  • @Isabella said:
    That's incredible! It looks almost like a USB cable on the end and a rose stem at the bottom! What a fascinating and practical hobby you've found! Please keep adding more!! It sounds like you've found quite a niche for yourself!!

    You're too kind! :D

    A less successful attempt:

    image20201019_181207.jpg" alt="" title="" />

    @Amity said:
    Nice looking Shillelagh you got there, I'm partial to some woodburning myself. Love the smell too.

    From what I recall from my childhood, finding the right piece can take time, unless you have access to plenty of blackthorn to choose from... when you do spy that perfect piece, resist the urge and let it season. The gnarled/knotted pieces, though beautiful, have inherent weaknesses so understanding where to cut on the individual branch can make or break the walking stick when it has seasoned. I remember watching these things unfold.

    The really gnarly bits look cool, but I tend to try for fairly straight pieces, preferably with a thick bit of log attached to make a nice knob. The placement of the bushes I visit lends itself unusually well to grow long straight bits. It's really the whole process that's a bit...esoteric. Lot's of old wives tales about how to make the bestest cudgel. Slather it in lard or butter and stick it up the chimney for a year. Stick it in a dung pile, then paint it with the blood of a magpie. Make sure not to cut it during Samhain, or the nasty fairies will curse you.

    So far I've done the drying, the carving and two attempts at blackening with fire. Not a big fan of the shellac/varnish look, but I'll look into getting some tung oil for a little bit of shine.

  • Statest16Statest16 Citizen, Mentor

    Could be a useful beatdown stick as the gangbangers call them.The gangs like to carry canes or a crutch either as defense from a knife attack or to beat someone down with.

    The police can't stop the practice because they can't prove there not orthopedic equipment but the police know what is going on.It doesn't hurt to have good self defense these days especially when mace requires a permit but a walking stick or cane doesn't.

  • WolframWolfram Citizen
    edited October 2020

    Yeah. The shillelagh may or may not have heritage along similar lines.

  • Statest16Statest16 Citizen, Mentor

    @Wolfram said:
    Yeah. The shillelagh may or may not have heritage along similar lines.

    The picture of your stick looks like a type of shillelagh

  • That was the idea. Blackthorn is remarkably strong.

  • HylianHylian Citizen, Mentor

    That looks so cool! How long does it take you to make one of these?

  • Couple hours lazy carving, a few hours more for a trek out in the woods to use the firepit at a resting spot in the forest. This of course after a year or so waiting for the sticks to dry. Which is too short a time.

  • Do you know about divining for water? I'm not sure where that custom started.

  • I know you use rowanwood for that, but not much else. Lack of water was never really the typical problem up here.

  • Save_FerrisSave_Ferris Citizen, Member

    @Wolfram NIce work dude.

    The only walking sticks I've had I've sold for profit ( never made any though ) .

  • Thanks man!

    Guess I never really got over the whole boy-in-forest-playing-with-sticks thing. XD

  • Save_FerrisSave_Ferris Citizen, Member

    @Wolfram said:
    Thanks man!

    Guess I never really got over the whole boy-in-forest-playing-with-sticks thing. XD

    Just read blackthorn can be used for war bows too 🏹

  • It can, but it's really keen on forming knots. I've seen a bowyer do it, but he also predicted accurately where it was going to break.

  • I own a blackthorn shillelagh that came from Ireland. It's one of my favorite possessions. I read that originally they were black in color from soot because they were cured in chimneys. Mine was painted though. Has a burled knob that had lead shots put into it to give it extra whacking power. This is an interesting video about them.

  • @Wolfram that's so cool that you have blackthorn bushes where you live. I would love to be able to access to them and make shillelaghs. I'm sure your craft will improve over time. They say that it took Miltion Shillelagh 189 tries before he got it right. Or maybe that was Milton Hershey and the chocolate bar.

  • I know of two blackthorn thickets out in the wild, but the best one is actually a five minute walk from my home. It's planted as a covering hedge between a low-traffic walkway and a well-trafficed railroad track. It's not intended to be decorative, it's pruned frequently with the cut pieces just thrown back into the thicket for extra cover. So I don't feel too bad that a few limbs go missing every once in a while.

    If I could find a nice long log of blackthorn, I'd like to make a knobkerrie style stick out of it. That promises to be a lot of work, though.

  • WolframWolfram Citizen
    edited October 2020

    On the advice of possibly the single most Irish person in existence, who's also a 12th generation stick maker or something like that, I decided to go out and make myself a few new project shanks. I was going to wait until after the first frost, but then I remembered that's just for the berries. Anywho, If he cuts his shanks now, at least they probably won't fail due to improper timing.

    Might have overdone it on the longer one; it's taller than I am. The shorter one is a good length, so long as I won't have to cut any significant length due to cracking. Now to dip their ends in wood glue, stick them in the attic and forget all about them for three years or so.

  • AmityAmity Administrator, Citizen

    They look really promising W.

    3 years, wow.. I knew they needed a good stretch to season, what are you going to carve in the interim?

  • Well, that is what would happen if I was a serious craftman or some such nonsense. As it stands, I might manage one year. But who knows? Maybe I'll actually forget about them.

    No real ongoing projects at the moment, and anything brought in from outside now would need a thorough drying out.

  • TemTem Citizen

    I have one as a keepsake from when my friend died several years ago. He had found it in the woods whilst out walking his dog and decided to make a Stick - he never finished it.

    I asked for it when he passed. My neighbour helped to finish it off and put my old Irish friend's initials on the handle.

  • IsabellaIsabella Citizen
    edited November 2020

    What a kind gesture from your friend's neighbour ^.

    I bet that's quite a treasure for you.

    I really like your tables too, Wolfram. Did you make those as well? You seem quite talented in design.

    PS Are you officially on kitty-countdown now?

  • Oh you flatterer you. No, those tables are well beyond my meager skills, and were inhertited from my sister, who bought them in one of those asian import shops. It is quite nice, though.

    The breeder and I agreed to let the kitties have a bit of extra time with their mother, just to make sure. Apparently there is a trend towards moving to 14 weeks as a minimum time with mom rather than the current 12. She'll be moving in sometime in December. :)

  • pigeonpigeon Member
    edited November 2020

    I knew a guy from Edinburgh here in California that used a blackthorn walking stick. I've kind of wanted one for a while, but I don't think it grows here, and I can't really justify buying one. Thought about cutting the right eucalyptus branch or digging up a sapling of some kind for a walking stick/staff.
    I'm also interested in ball headed war clubs.
    There's a story in the news about a guy outside Chicago chasing burglars(?) out of his house with a shillelagh within the last couple of days. Story was from Associated Press.

  • WolframWolfram Citizen
    edited November 2020

    If blackthorn is unavailable, look for rowan/mountain ash/witchwood.

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