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Friday, February 29, 2008

Make a walking stick......

Need or want a walking stick?
The next time you go out to your woodlot; don't cut one out of your favorite park or off private property. Look around for a small sapling that has been damaged from snow press, you will notice that at the base of the sapling snow has caused the trunk of the sapling to bend. This creates a natural handle for a walking stick. If you look at the photo to the left you can see the natural handle, each stick is unique, no two sticks the same. The preferred time to harvest your potential stick is in March or early spring when the sap is flowing in the trees. This makes peeling simple and if you find a Black Cherry sapling it can be done with your fingers. Otherwise a draw knife available from Home Hardware or a jackknife will also get the job done. Once you have it peeled, let it dry for a couple of weeks;but not in direct sunlight as this can cause it to crack. Then sand either by hand or with an orbitable sander, first with 80 grit, then 120. Some people prefer the natural color of the wood or you can use a stain to get the color you prefer. Let the stain dry and then apply 3 or 4 coats of clear (outside) varethane; letting each coat dry for at least 24 hours. After each coat drys, sand lightly prior to applying the next coat. Be sure to wipe the walking stick with a cloth to remove dust prior to applying the varethane. You can then either put a brass end on the cane available from Lee Valley or dip it in a rubber compound available from Canadian Tire. This puts a kind of none slip end on the stick and protects it from water/snow/gravel. As you can see from the photo, the shapes and character from each stick is unique. So on your next walk get your son or daughter involved and make it a project you complete with them from beginning to end. Its something they will remember, and will probably use for years to come.

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