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Hiking Staff Construction


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El Diablo,

 

I'm getting ready to make my first hiking staffs (THANKS for your guidance in another post :( ) . . . was wondering if you've used Sassafras? I've got several nice saplings that have dried for several months before I picked them up (utility company brush hogged an area and these were left lying). Getting the bark off was a real chore! I'm down to clear wood and coarse sanding. Fine sanding, decoration and finishing to come soon. Will make one for myself, one for my son and one for FTF with my first Traditional/Regular Cache.

 

Do hardwoods tend to hold up pretty good where the staff tip is concerned? Ideally, it would be nice to put something like an iron band around the bottom. Since I'm not a blacksmith, that is probably not happening. If the tip were the correct size, a rubber crutch tip could be used, but the chances of that are probably small.

 

"Working Properties

Sassafras is easily worked and takes a finish well. It glues well and holds screws better than it nails, where pre-boring may be necessary to avoid splitting. It requires care in drying as it has a tendency to check with small movement in performance."

 

Again, thanks for your ideas.

 

JohnTee

Edited by JohnTee
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I've never used Sassafras but I've heard of other people doing so. It should be ok. If you will email me the diameter of your staff tip and address I'll send you a rubber tip for it. I wouldn't worry about putting a band around the bottom. It will do fine on it's own.

 

El Diablo

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As a user (definitely not a maker) of a variety of staffs over the years, I have found that if you bushwhack much, in briars or heavy underbrush, the rubber tip becomes a nuisance. At the risk of desecration of an object d’art, I have removed the rubber tip from my El Diablo staff.

 

The top edge of the tip easily becomes snagged on vines and tangles and turns a struggle into a fight. The natural taper of the staff, however, works just fine when I’m using it in heavy underbrush. Besides, I like the more natural look. :P:(

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El Diablo,

 

Thanks for your generous offer. Since I'm building three, I don't want to abuse your generous offer. :( What's your source for rubber tips? I don't mind looking on my own. Have you ever tried wrapping wire around a tip as a reinforcement?

 

JohnTee

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Thanks El Diabo,

 

I'll bookmark that, get mine finished and go from there. Saw the other thread about tips for ice and started playing with the idea of drilling the tip and insetting a threaded sleeve. You could then screw in a bolt with a sharpened end for ice or something like a bolt with head for walking. Not sure if that would be a problem on a slick rock, or the like . . .

 

The other concern I had was with weakening the tip. Could be that something like a sleeve epoxied in would actually ADD strength . . .

 

JohnTee

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Io that same site I gave you, you'll find a tip that has a rubber foot that unscrews to reveal a metal spike. As Sept1c_tank pointed out...the staff will hold up just fine without a tip.

 

I used a River Birch hiking staff for years with no tip and it's still in fine shape.

 

El Diablo

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River Birch! I hadn't thought about looking down in my creek for that. There's saplings popping up all over the place down there. I found some red oak branches, but as you mentioned in your recent guide, branches are hard to find straight and the oak is heavy. The other thing I want to play with is Bamboo. A neighbor has a grove going that Im sure he'd be happy to have thinned.

 

JohnTee

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I just made a walking staff for a caching buddy (I used silver maple), and I was wondering about what to use on the tip, myself. Well, walking through Lowes one day I happened to spy the brass pipe fittings. I picked up a 3/4" end cap, and it seems to be working well for durability, but the slickness on rock may end up being an issue - just some food for thought on other options! :unsure:

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I just made a walking staff for a caching buddy (I used silver maple), and I was wondering about what to use on the tip, myself. Well, walking through Lowes one day I happened to spy the brass pipe fittings. I picked up a 3/4" end cap, and it seems to be working well for durability, but the slickness on rock may end up being an issue - just some food for thought on other options! :unsure:

I used a brass flare nut on mine. I sized it to just fit on the end of the staff and then epoxied it in place. I then filled the open end with Goop to keep out as much gunk as possible. It works great and polished up really nice.

5513585.jpg

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Jumping in on this thread since I like to use a hiking stick also. And I did say "stick" because for a while I just picked one up along the trail and dropped it when I left. But I was cleaning up behind the house and found a "stick" that I thought coud be a "staff". I have several silver maples and wild cherry trees back there. I have taken 4 so far and made them into "staffs". The "" "" are because I am definitely not an artisan! They are not straight as an arrow, because I like a little curve. I stripped the bark and put several coats of polyurethane on them. Drilled a hole for a leather strip. No tips.

 

So what do you think? I know they won't last forever but I feel they are functional.

 

Thanks and have fun!

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So what do you think? I know they won't last forever but I feel they are functional.

 

Thanks and have fun!

Yours are probably as good as anybody's. I'm no carver, either. I got lucky and found a stick that was prepared by a beaver. I only had to remove little bits of bark prior to three coats of poly. The little teeth marks are cool, in my opinion.

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64f1cccd-3975-4b49-aa57-c06c97b1fe3c.jpg I just made a rather nice sassafras stick with woodburning deco. The bottom is a precice 7/8" but I don't want to put a rubber tip on it. I'd rather do a pointed metal tip. I don't want to add much weight with heavy plumbing hardware. Any ideas for a metal working neophyte? Something I could craft with handyman tools at home? Edited by seeker22
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Good job on the burning. As for the metal tip I've seen lots of suggestions. They actually make a metal spike for hiking staffs like that at Treelineusa.com It comes with a rubber tip that unscrews to reveal the spike, but you can just leave that off if you want.

 

El Diablo

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Thanks El Diablo, I will check your link on the metal base. I'll post the final product when I'm done. The stick is for a caching friend who has helped me and put up with many of my antics. Oh no, now I have another hobby--stick making! Just what I need, another hobby! Already have several stick requests from family members and I'm not even done with the first one! I really like the grain in the sassafras wood. Just bought a folding hand saw to get some other type prospective sticks while I'm out in the woods. Cache-on, Stick-on...

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just for interest...on Ebay there is a gentleman in the UK that sells both plain and pointed ferruls (spelling) for walking sticks. I got 5 of the pointed ones for less than $15 CDN after shipping and they arrived in the mail in 1 week. I like the pointed end all seasons.

I just find that a plain unprotected end on a staff slips around too much for my liking

 

just search "walking stick" and scroll till you find them in the pics

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The tips on hard wood really dosen't need to be reinforced. The basic reason for a rubber tip is for grip and stability. This is especially good when using on rocks or crossing streams.

 

I get mine from www.treelineusa.com

 

El Diablo

 

I have used the rubber tips off of old crutches my kids used when they sprained their ankles. The fit nicely over the wood staff I used and they provide a nice "grip" on rocks plus lessen the "shock" when placing using on hard surfaces.

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I have used the rubber tips off of old crutches my kids used when they sprained their ankles. The fit nicely over the wood staff I used and they provide a nice "grip" on rocks plus lessen the "shock" when placing using on hard surfaces.

 

You can get those rubber crutch tips as replacements in most pharmacy areas, probably including places like Wal-Mart.

 

JohnTee

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I have some rubber tips from Home Depot in both black and white, but they look so institutional on the staff and not very aesthetic. I'm still waiting for delivery on the ferrule source suggested by El. Thanks for the suggestion on another source CanningClan. I'll check it out.

Just started whittling most of the bark off my second sassafras stick. I'd like to carve a wood spirit at the top of this one. Going to a Woodcrafters store tomorrow for advice, supplies and resources. I have a bare diamond willow stick coming in the mail to play with as well.

If it wasn't below 25 degrees I'd be geocaching instead of sticking. Oh well, its tax season for my CPA wife and I'm left to whatever pleases me this time of year.

It will be caching, stick-making, and range shooting until April 15. YAHOO! Maybe winter isn't so bad after all.

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I've never worked with either one before, but I would love to try a Diamond Willow. I would imagine any of the most common sealers will work fine, but I can't swear to it.. A clear satin poly on the Diamond Willow will really bring out it's features.

 

El Diablo

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I have some rubber tips from Home Depot in both black and white, but they look so institutional on the staff and not very aesthetic.

 

You might consider whipping to dress up those institutional looking tips. I've repaired fishing rod line guides with whipping line that I unwound off of broken fishing rods. I was amazed at how easy it was to learn and experimented with different diameters and colors of string with some pretty cool looking results. Wind fine thread tight, singe off stray fibers and coat with clear epoxy for a smooth 'painted on' look. Or larger diameter cord with a 'rough hand' left as is makes a pretty darned durable handle. I've never made a walking staff,,, just thought some of the cool designs I'd seen on fishing rods and pool sticks might work out for a staff.

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I think I remember a mention of straightening sapplings to make staffs in a thread a while back. I would appreciate any insights or techniques as everything around here seems to have a definite bow. I've got Yew, Cherry, Viney Maple, Fir, and many unidentified trees that all seem straight until I get them in the shop and get the bark off.

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I think I remember a mention of straightening sapplings to make staffs in a thread a while back. I would appreciate any insights or techniques as everything around here seems to have a definite bow. I've got Yew, Cherry, Viney Maple, Fir, and many unidentified trees that all seem straight until I get them in the shop and get the bark off.

 

What I do is wedge one in under the top back porch step and then press down until it's straight and tie it off to the bottom step for a couple of weeks or so.

 

El Diablo

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I think I remember a mention of straightening sapplings to make staffs in a thread a while back. I would appreciate any insights or techniques as everything around here seems to have a definite bow. I've got Yew, Cherry, Viney Maple, Fir, and many unidentified trees that all seem straight until I get them in the shop and get the bark off.

 

What I do is wedge one in under the top back porch step and then press down until it's straight and tie it off to the bottom step for a couple of weeks or so.

 

El Diablo

 

Well, since I don't have steps on my back porch, I'll have to modify that procedure.

 

Thanks for the feedback

Edited by piscatore
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I have a Maple walkin’ stick that I’ve been using for almost 15 years now. The process of making it involved stripping the bark, then letting it dry well in a sheltered area (for about two weeks during the summer). After some creative whittling I sanded it thoroughly then applied a generous coat of vegetable oil, followed by rubbing the entire surface with a block of wax. Buff it up with a rag after that, and you should be good to go. I re-treat it every so often. I never added any reinforcement to the tip, and in all these years it has worn down an inch at most. Can’t beat those hardwoods!

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