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Making A Hiking Staff.


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I recently collected a small tree to make a hiking staff. I had cut it down to clear some land over 8 months ago, and it has been sitting on top of a brush pile ever since. It is quite dry. I am having trouble identifying the type of wood. The leaves are long gone. Here's what I know:

 

- It grew in the Northeast US (upstate NY).

- The piece in question is the main truck of a small tree.

- Most of the branches have a sister branch on the opposite side of the trunk, they curve upwards and mirror each other. Generally the next pair of branches found above are perpendicular to the first pair.

- The bark is a brownish color, with a touch of red. It is also smooth, and peeled off lengthwise very easily after sitting on the pile for many months.

- Under the bark, the wood was a smooth light-brown color, it's texture is that of wood that has been smoothed with about an 80-grit paper running up and down.

- The wood is hard, i can make only the most infinitesimal of dents with my thumbnail. However, it cuts and shaves very easily.

- The wood is also very very stiff. It's diameter ranges from about an inch to an inch and a half, and it's length is 6 feet, but I can barely bend it, and I'm no small guy.

- It is also not very heavy, I would guess it's about medium to light density.

- The wood is generally light in color, but has a very beutiful and intricate grain, The light rings are infused with vertical streaks of dark, and vice versa. It is also very porous, especially in the dark rings

 

Can anyone offer a guess as to what it could be?

 

Some guesses at work have been:

 

Maple

Hickory

Ash

Birch

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The porous comment leads me to believe you have an oak sapling. I once cut some tapered oak legs for a table and hung them in a furnace room to dry after applying a polyurethane finish. The air in the wood heated up, expanded and blew small bubbles in the finish where the wood was cut across the grain. Check the trees in the area from which you cleared the sapling. Acorns do not fall far from the tree.

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I have been a wood worker for a while and the information leads me to believe it is an oak sapling... as was suggested earlier, if you go back to the area where you found the wood, look for some little nuts that are tear-drop shaped, appox 1/2 to3/4"long and look like they have a hat on them. :) (Acorns) Some times older nuts are missing the hat... which may be lying around nearby.

Edited by mikiemca
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Are there any trees still standing around the lot that you cleared? Trees tend to be fairly specific to a micro-climate i.e. swamp vs hill side, dry forest vs. damp etc. You might be able to find another small tree of the same type near where you took this specimen from. The leaves will be out in a couple months. Just a thought.

 

Yours aye,

 

The Prospectors

 

Do you have Locust, Ironwood or Witch Hazel in your area?

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If it's peeling off it's probably birch.

The leaves are the best way to identify them. I have a flowchart that helps you ID trees by leaf shape and radiating of leaves on branches, I'll post a link when I find it.

I try to make my sticks out of maple, it's just springy enough. I'm not too picky about looks, but I get compliments on my stick :) I just try to pick a sapling or branch that will have a knot at the bottom so it won't splinter, and a knot around chest level for a grip. I let them dry for 1 week, strip the bark, let them dry for another 2 weeks, then whittle it down. Sand it three times with progressively finer blocks- gotten at Home Depot and/or a crafts store- 80, 220, 400 grit, and then it gets a few coats of tung oil, with a 24hour dry time in between.

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If it's the trunk of the tree and is only 6 foot, I doubt it's Poplar, their branches tend to be near the top when that young. I would propably rule out Oak since you said it was pretty light. From the color of the bark and the description of the underlying wood, I would venture a guess that it might be Hickory or possibly Maple. Hard to tell without a photo, and even then it might be hard to tell.

 

Someone else mentioned that woods have smells, that's very true with Hickory, Maple and Cherry.

 

El Diablo

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