How to learn to carve a cane & a walking stick

Written by jonah morrissey
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How to learn to carve a cane & a walking stick
Carving walking sticks sparks creativity. (Carved Walking Sticks image by Rob Hill from

Canes and walking sticks are common woodcarving projects. The same techniques are used in carving both a cane and a walking stick. A cane is shorter than a walking stick, and the weight is placed on top of a cane. A walking stick is gripped for support while walking on rugged terrain such as a hiking trail. Climbing a trail is often easier with a walking stick in hand. A cane can be more refined. A walking stick is best left natural with some bark still remaining. The style of either the cane or walking stick is a matter of taste. A knowledge of the basic skills required to make them will have you creating your own take on a cane and walking stick in no time.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • 32-inch straight section of maple branch wood
  • 60-inch straight section of maple branch wood
  • Draw knife
  • Carving knife
  • Fine-grit sandpaper
  • Wood finish of your choice

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  1. 1

    Shave the sections of branch wood with a draw knife. Long flowing strokes with a draw knife will quickly create a clean straight line. Round the shaft of the sections of branch wood. Both a cane and walking stick typically taper towards the bottom. Create a taper that has a pleasing appearance in proportion to the cane and walking stick. The 32-inch section of branch wood is the cane blank. The 60-inch section of branch wood is the walking stick blank.

  2. 2

    Carve a rounded ball at the top of the cane blank. This will be the handle of the cane. Smooth the handle using small light cuts with the carving knife. You may choose to create other details on the lower portion of the cane. This is solely at your discretion. Approximately 48-inches up from the bottom of the walking stick blank, cut a six inch section to define the handle. A groove, or cross-hatch pattern is a popular method of defining the handle of a walking stick. Create a pattern that is comfortable to hold.

  3. 3

    Sand the surface of both the cane and walking stick with fine-grit sandpaper. Apply a wood finish of your choice to the cane. You may also choose to apply a wood finish of your choice to the walking stick. It is a matter of personal preference. A rustic walking stick never goes out of style. However a clear coat can bring out the beauty of the grain in a walking stick. It is your preference. Allow the finish to dry before use.

Tips and warnings

  • Carve multiple walking sticks for the whole family. A good walking stick can reduce fatigue on the trail. Cut a notch in the stick for every new adventure.
  • Wear eye protection while woodcarving.

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