How to Do Your Own Hand-Carved Walking Sticks

Written by gerald fuller
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How to Do Your Own Hand-Carved Walking Sticks
Transform an everyday stick into a custom walking stick. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Hiking through the woods or walking anywhere is an experience made better with a good walking stick. Many times folks hike or walk and pick up long sticks that they then use to supplement their leg power while walking. At the end of the walk, these sticks are usually tossed back into the woods. Pre-made walking sticks are available for purchase online and in stores. These sticks can be expensive and may fail to capture the spirit of a walking stick made with a person's own hands. Any stick can be made into a beautiful walking stick fairly simply and for a fraction of the cost of a store-bought one.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • 4-foot to 6-foot long stick
  • Saw
  • Sandpaper (fine and coarse grit)
  • Gloves
  • Gouges
  • V-tools
  • Wet-dry vacuum
  • Wood stain
  • Cardboard
  • Paintbrush
  • Rubber tip
  • Grip (optional)

Show MoreHide


    Find and Prepare your Stick

  1. 1

    Find or purchase a suitable walking stick. Good woods for walking sticks include maple, cherry, alder and aspen.

  2. 2

    Cut the stick to your desired length using a saw. Use a large knife to cut away any bark on the stick.

  3. 3

    Sand any bumps or other imperfections on the stick down with coarse grit sandpaper. Use fine grit sandpaper and sand the whole stick to even out any imperfections so that the stick has a smooth appearance and texture.

    Carve your Stick

  1. 1

    Carve designs into your walking stick using v-tools and gouges. These are the simplest of carving tools and with the proper application of pressure, cutting patterns like spirals into your walking stick is easy.

  2. 2

    Carve the top of your walking stick into something that you like to look at. A handle is also a popular utilitarian design for the top of your walking stick. The handle of your walking stick can be reserved for larger carvings like faces or the heads of animals. Circular handles in the shape of an orb are also popular, and symbols like yin-yangs, crosses and geometric shapes fit well into the orb design.

  3. 3

    Carve any designs or patterns into the walking stick that you desire. Sand any rough gashes or splinters leftover from your carving down so that the surfaces are smooth.

  4. 4

    Clean away any dust with a cloth or wet-dry vacuum set in reverse to clear away any dust remaining from sanding.

    Stain and Finish

  1. 1

    Lay your walking stick down a piece of cardboard. Follow the directions on the side of the can of wood stain to make sure that you properly stain your stick. Use a paintbrush to coat the stick with a thin layer of your desired shade of wood stain. For wood stains allow three hours for drying.

  2. 2

    Sand your walking stick lightly with fine grit sandpaper to remove any irregularities or bubbles left by the wood stain. Clear away any dust and re-stain your walking stick for a glossier finish. Allow three hours for drying.

  3. 3

    Add a tip to your walking stick to protect the wood from the ground. Rubber cane tips are available for purchase at pharmacies and medical supply stores. Rubber stoppers are less expensive and can be purchased at most hardware stores. Buy and attach a brass ferulle to the end of your cane for a more elegant tip.

Tips and warnings

  • If the wood for your walking stick is still wet or "green," lay it on its side -- so that it remains straight -- and let it dry out over a period of 6 months or longer. Wood should be dried in non-air conditioned shelter, such as a garage.
  • Wrap up part of your stick with a leather strap or material of your choice if you desire a grip on the stick. Sports grips for tennis rackets and baseball bats work well.

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