How to Finish a Walking Stick

Updated February 21, 2017

A walking stick is a staff used to aid balance while walking. Walking sticks come in an array of shapes and sizes and are often targeted by collectors. If left unfinished, wooden walking sticks will lose their natural colour and may warp. You can add beauty to your walking stick and prolong the life of the wood by applying a petroleum-based finish.

Sand the walking stick with 50-grit sandpaper. Push the sandpaper toward the grain of the wood or the staff may splinter.

Sand the walking stick twice more, first using 90-grit sandpaper, then using 140-grit.

Wipe down the entire staff, using a shop rag dampened with fresh, clean white spirit solvent. Place the walking stick on top of a canvas dust sheet, and wait 20 to 30 minutes for the solvent to evaporate.

Brush a thin coat of oil-based gel stain onto your walking stick. Don't spread the stain using a synthetic paintbrush; use one with natural bristles.

Wait three to five minutes. Wipe all of the stain from the walking stick, using clean shop rags. Let the staff dry for four hours.

Wash your brush at least three times, using clean white spirit solvent.

Apply two fine coats of solvent-based polyurethane to the walking stick, using the cleaned natural brush. For best results, brush in the direction of the staff's wood grain. Wait two hours between each coat of poly.


You also can finish your walking stick with a liquid oil-based stain. However, if the staff is made of hardwood, the finish may dry unevenly. Ensure an attractive, uniform finish by using a gel stain that will provide even colour to all types of wood.

Things You'll Need

  • 50-grit sandpaper
  • 90-grit sandpaper
  • 140-grit sandpaper
  • White spirit
  • Shop rags
  • Canvas dust sheet
  • Gel oil stain
  • 2-inch natural-bristled paintbrush
  • Solvent-based polyurethane
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About the Author

Ryan Lawrence is a freelance writer based in Boulder, Colorado. He has been writing professionally since 1999. He has 10 years of experience as a professional painting contractor. Lawrence writes for High Class Blogs and Yodle. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism and public relations with a minor in history from the University of Oklahoma.