Walking staffs act as an aid when hiking, allowing you to keep your balance when traversing rough terrain. According to Charles R. Self, author of "Make Your Own Walking Sticks," a sturdy walking stick is one of the most important tools for anyone who goes hiking or camping regularly. While you can purchase a staff in many outdoor supply stores, a commercial walking staff is often quite expensive. You can create your own walking stick from home with a few simple supplies and 30 minutes of spare time to save money and make a more personal hiking aid.
Select the right piece of wood for your walking staff. Base the height of your staff off personal preference. Some prefer staffs to extend higher than they are tall, while others prefer them shoulder height or below so they can easily rest their hand atop the staff. The wood you choose should be a straight length of hardwood such as maple, chestnut or oak. Use a handsaw to cut the length of wood from a living tree or find an intact piece of fallen wood suitable for your staff. Ideally, the wood should be 1 to 2 inches wide.
Allow the wood to sit in a cool, dry place for two months. This allows the moisture to escape from wood naturally, reducing the risk of your staff cracking after you have carved it.
Use a sharp knife to strip away the bark of the wood. Run the knife down the length of the wood in even motions, always cutting away from you. Remove any knots or imperfections in the staff, leaving it as smooth as possible.
Use 100-grit sandpaper to smooth away any remaining splinters or imperfections on your walking stick. Wrap a sheet of sandpaper around the staff and slide it up and down to produce a smooth, slick surface.
Paint on a layer of wood finish over your walking staff if you would like to protect it from moisture. Allow it to dry for 48 hours before use. Some hikers prefer to leave their staff unfinished, so this step is up to you. Note, however, that if you do not finish your walking stick, it will be more susceptible to cracking over time.
According to David Dawson, author of "Making Walking Sticks for a Hobby," you should never use aspen to construct your walking stick, because the wood is weak and might break during use. Some enjoy decorating their walking staffs. If you would like to decorate your walking stick, consider whittling a design into the wood after stripping away the bark.