Crafting walking sticks is an old art. Many artisans choose sticks with natural curves that are not intended for actual use beyond decoration. These walking sticks are pleasing to look at, but when you want to make a straight stick is from a bent tree limb or sapling, you need to straighten the wood. Two methods give good results to beginners and experts.
Choose a source to heat the water. If working in a home, use a regular kitchen range. If you are working in a garage or woodworking shop, you willwill need a portable source. One- or-two burner electric hotplates are recommended by AllWoodWork.com due to their safety in woodworking areas as compared to camp stoves.
Fill a medium to large stockpot half full with plain water. Heat to the boiling point. Place the walking stick across the top of the pot. Allow the steam to fully penetrate the wood for five or more minutes. Put on thick gloves to protect against steam burns. Remove the stick. Wrap the area to be straightened with the towel.
Place the walking stick across your knee. Begin bending the stick in the opposite direction of the unwanted bend by pushing the bend or curve against your knee. When the wood begins to cool, unwrap it and return it to the steam. Continue these steps until the stick is as straight as you desire.
Place the stick in a warm, dry place after straightening. Lay flat, without stacking on other sticks, to avoid warping. Allow to dry for up to a week, then check the shape. Repeat the steaming process if the stick has warped during drying.
- Some woodworkers leave the towel on the stick when it is returned to the steam bath. This will retain heat and moisture longer.
- A hand-held steam jet used for cleaning will work well to heat the wood.
- To avoid using steam, tie a brick or cement block to the end of the stick when it is still green, and hang to dry. The weight will straighten the stick.
- Steam can cause serious burns. Use caution when removing the stick. Never place exposed skin in steam.
- Do not use a stock pot larger than recommended by the hotplate or camp stove manufacturer.