How to Make a Shillelagh Stick

Written by megan shoop
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How to Make a Shillelagh Stick
Shillelaghs come from thorny hawthorn trees. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Shillelaghs, from the Gaelic meaning "oak club," traditionally come from England, according to the website Irish Culture and Customs. These hardwood battle clubs-cum-walking sticks made their way over to Ireland when England invaded. According to Mother Earth News, England banned weapons from Ireland. In revolt, the Irish adopted the shillelagh as a walking stick and secret resistance weapon. Create your own shillelagh to show your Irish pride or simply as a handy hiking stick.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Hawthorn tree
  • Stepladder
  • Gloves
  • Branch saw
  • Sharp knife
  • Sandpaper
  • Stain
  • Paintbrushes
  • Varnish

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  1. 1

    Find a hawthorn tree with many thick branches. Examine the tree until you see a branch that looks heavy and dense with the traditional gnarled straightness of a shillelagh. The branch should be tapered but strong-looking. If you can't find a hawthorn tree, look for oak, ash or holly. All of these woods are traditional.

  2. 2

    Put up a stepladder and put on some gloves. You must handle hawthorn trees with care. All American species have thorns on them, as do many European species. Find a space between the thorns and grip it firmly.

  3. 3

    Saw through the branch with a branch saw, cutting at a particularly knobby section. Shillelaghs traditionally have a very bumpy, clubbed look.

  4. 4

    Saw away all of the thorns on your shillelagh branch. If necessary, saw it to length, as well. Your shillelagh should come up to your bellybutton.

  5. 5

    Hold your shillelagh down on a sturdy surface and slice through the bark with a sharp knife. Put the tip of the blade into the slice and peel away the bark.

  6. 6

    Set your shillelagh in a cool, dry place to dry for about three weeks. This strengthens the shillelagh by letting it become dry and very dense.

  7. 7

    Sand the shillelagh so the stumps from the thorns and the places you cut are rounded and smooth.

  8. 8

    Stain your shillelagh if desired. Dark cherry, black hawthorn and walnut are all appropriate choices. Let the stain dry overnight.

  9. 9

    Varnish your shillelagh with water-based weather sealer. Add about two coats with 2 hours of drying time between them.

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