Stick making is an inexpensive, interesting and sociable hobby. There is lots to learn, plenty of room for creativity and you can keep it simple or work towards complicated, show stopper projects. Stick making is a hobby that spans all of the levels; from basic beginners to exhibiting in shows run by your local Stick Makers Guild. I have put together this post to cover what you need to know to get started and perhaps in the future, we can sell your handmade sticks for you!
There are lots of videos, discussion forums and books on stick making out there for you to research before you start, if only to see what is possible to make.
Next you need some stick making materials. You can either buy the parts from www.walkingsticksonline.co.uk or you can pick the wood yourself from you local woods, hedgerows or thickets. Apart from the wood for the handle and the shanks, you also need something to connect the handle to the shank, a collar (optional) and a metal ferrule to go on to the tip. These can be machine made or you can purchase them ready made in different sizes from Emilyhannah Limited.
The wood for the stick shanks needs to be dried for two years and then steam straightened. You can do this yourself or buy them ready prepared. Hunting for sticks in your local countryside is a thoroughly rewarding and pleasurable hobby in itself especially when you find something really special and rare. All of the other materials you might need ( such as antler pieces for a walking stick handle or horn spacers) you can also buy online.
What tools do you need for stick making? You will need a vice and a work bench or other work space, a drill, some epoxy glue, a good wood work carving knife, a fine tooth saw or hack saw, different grades of sanding sponges and different graded files or rasps.
Apart from an electric drill, you only really need hand tools to make walking sticks but if you really get into this hobby and want to make certain tasks quicker then there are a few power tools you could go for. In particular a belt sander for forming the tip of the stick where the ferrule will be attached to and forming the handle so that it connects nicely to the shank.
To finish the sticks you will need danish or linseed oil or some outdoor furniture varnish, something to seal the wood and protect it from wear and tear. There are lots of different options here and it is entirely up to you what finish you want your sticks to have. Just with every other part of stick making, you can keep it simple or you can experiment and do all sorts of things.