Cherry is an American hardwood, reddish in colour, strong for its size, while remaining flexible enough for working. It's also widely available commercially as seasoned wood. These traits make it a common choice among those looking to make a walking stick. Available in a wide range of lengths and diameters, you can find the exact stick for your needs easily, whether you're looking in the wild, or searching through a lumberyard. Once finished, the cherry walking stick can last for years through use in the toughest terrain, providing you with a reliable walking stick that won't snap easily.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Cherry wood stick
- Work gloves
- Safety goggles
- Hand saw
- Utility knife
- Face mask
- Sanding block
Choose a stick that's the right height for you, one that extends to about shoulder height. Choose a stick that's at least an inch in diameter for an average weight adult. Pick a larger stick the heavier you are.
Test the stick for rot. Place an end against a tree then push against the stick holding the other end. A healthy stick will only bend slightly, whereas a rotted stick will bend in a large arc or break, making it unsuitable for use.
Put on a pair of work gloves and safety goggles.
Remove any branches or twigs from your stick using a hand saw. Make the cuts as close to the body of the stick as possible.
Use a utility knife to strip the stick of bark. Cut into the bark at a slight angle to begin a strip, then peel the bark away in as large a strip as possible until you reach bare wood.
Put on a face mask to avoid inhaling sanding particles. Sand the stick with a sanding block containing a sheet of 100-grit sandpaper. Sand any knots contained on the stick level with the stick surface, and then sand the rest of the stick surface, moving with the wood grain, until smooth. The grain on cherry is straight, running the length of the wood. Encircle the stick with the sandpaper and run it up and down the stick's length while slowly rotating the stick to remain with the grain. Sand the base of the stick where it meets the ground across the grain.
Switch to a 200-grit sandpaper and repeat the sanding process, smoothing the entire stick further. Go over the stick a final time with 400-grit sandpaper. Feel the stick for any protrusions or areas of roughness and go over them again with the sandpaper to smooth them out. Wipe the stick with a tack cloth to remove any sanding residue.
Put on a pair of rubber gloves. Saturate a lint-free cloth in tung oil and then rub the entire surface with the cloth to apply the oil in a single heavy coat, moving from the top of the stick downwards to avoid leaving drip marks. You need to go heavy with the first layer, as the cherry will not take in the tung oil easily, needing it worked into the surface over time. Keep rubbing the oil into the stick until it begins to set in place. Wait two hours for the oil to dry.
Lightly sand the oil to remove any imperfections in the finish with the 400-grit sandpaper. Wipe with the tack cloth and then repeat the oiling process, applying a light layer instead of the first heavy layer. Wait an additional two hours for the oil to dry.
Repeat the sanding and oiling process a third time and allow the oil to dry overnight.
Apply paste wax along the length of the stick using a cotton cloth. Wait for the wax to dry to a dull haze then use the cloth to buff the stick with small circular movements until the wax begins to shine.
Cover the base of the staff with a rubber crutch tip. Apply a layer of wood glue to the base and upwards about an inch over the bottom of the staff before pushing the tip in place. Tap the staff firmly on the ground several times to seat the tip, then allow it to dry overnight before using.
Tie a strip of leather around the stick at grip level to serve as a grip for holding the stick as you walk. Use leather strapping wrapped several times around the base and top of the strip of leather to hold it in place.
Tips and warnings
- Top the stick with an ornamental head for decoration.
- Dry freshly cut green wood for a year before making a walking stick from the material.
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