Jump to content
I Forge Iron

Making a walking stick. Question about drying it


Recommended Posts

So I finally got around to cutting up that black locust I fell last October. I got a really nice branch from it I want to make a walking stick with for my brother. He's got one made of some super heavy bamboo type thing, so I figured he'd appreciate it.

I used my draw knife to take off the bark(green wood and draw knife is like therapy).

Anyway, I was wondering about drying it, I sealed the ends but I was wondering if I could just put a clear coat seal over the whole thing like to seal stain, if that would just make it rot or what. I was thinking it might help keep it flexible by keeping the moisture in it. Should I just leave the ends sealed and let it dry a bit before I do anything with it?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mr.  P.  Sure,

What is the greatest diameter of the stick? 

That detail is essential to make a useful comment.

Also,  when did you remove the bark? Just recently or when  you cut the tree down?


Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's about 1.5-2 inches up the whole length and I just removed the bark 10 minutes before posting. So an hour ago. I cut the branch off from the tree two days ago. All the wood was still green on the tree except on the spot I cut it down at. 

Also it's about 3 foot long. Give or take. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It will dry eventually, regardless of what you do, ending up at an equilibrium with the surrounding atmosphere. The only question is how long that takes.  Since moisture leaves wood most easily through the end grain, sealing the ends is a good idea: it slows down the moisture transfer and helps prevent cracking.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Black locust is a very strong and flexible wood... even fully air dried.  You’ve done good so far!  You could put a single coat of something like an oil finish, or even a wipe-on varnish (essentially a thin varnish).  I would advise against putting on a thick rigid finish as it’s likely to blister, peel, craze, or do other bad stuff, as the staff dries and shrinks.  Rot is unlikely.  Personally, I’d likely use some “Tried and True” finish... which is beeswax and linseed oil in a food safe version.  

Any large cracks from shrinkage can be fixed with a carved and glued insert or a good flexible epoxy... with or without fillers or coloring.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

A nice thick coat of lard, then put it in your chimney for a year. (far enough from the fire as not to burn it of course.)

Seriously though, my grandpa taught me how to use a shillelagh when i was younger and how to make one. And that is how a traditional shillelagh was made. I do not stick it in the chimney but i do put a nice coat of tallow on it then set it in a dry place for at least a year or longer. Depends on the thickness of the wood. General rule is 1 year per inch of diameter.  The tallow or lard will give it a deep brown "stain" and leave a coating on it. It also keeps it from drying to fast which leads to cracks. You can just use tallow or even wax on just the ends or wherever you removed branches but with tallow you get brown spots. That's why i coat the whole thing. Do not put any kind of poly eurthane or similar coatings until completely dry. I will also cut them 10 or 12 inches longer than i want so if i do develop a crack i got enough to cut off and get back to good wood. 

One of my favorite woods to use, and it is a lot stronger and flexible than people think, is honeysuckle. 

Oh one more thing some people will attach them to boards to dry. Strapped in the middle and ends. This will prevent them from bending, warping, or twisting while drying. Make sure you flip them every 6 weeks or so and move the strap locations to expose those surfaces to the air. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...