Handcrafted Walking Sticks and Canes


Walking sticks and canes have been a part of society for centuries. Whether you are using a walking stick to help keep your pace and balance in nature walking along hiking trails, a colorful wardrobe accessory, or to help you walk around due to health issues a walking cane can be useful. Canes have been seen as symbols of authority and used as weapons with hidden knives or built in stun guns in some of the more modern canes.

A walking stick has four parts, the handle, the band, the shaft, and the ferrule. The handle is typically the most glorified piece and can be constructed of ornamental metals, carved bone or antler, carved wood, crystal, or any other type of ornate finishing touch you can think of. The band joins the handle to the shaft if they’re different materials such as a metal handle on a wooden shaft. A ferrule is located at the bottom of the stick or cane as the tip and is sometimes the same material as the handle and is used to protect the end of the stick.

Brief History

The first walking sticks were used to assist in standing and walking however walking sticks have been used as weapons and authority items as well. It used to be the bigger the man the bigger the stick however; through the centuries decorative and ornate objects were added to the sticks such as stones, points, and hatchets which turned a walking stick into a weapon. Walking sticks were used in tribes and the most decorated and ornate ones belonged to tribe leaders.

Walking sticks were seen as objects of high importance in ancient Egypt. Sticks varied by occupation during these times. A shepherd staff was different than a priest’s, merchants, or Pharaoh’s. The sticks often remained with their owners even in death as people were buried with them beside their mummy to protect them on their travels.

Walking sticks in the middle ages were dominated by the church as seen in designs on the sticks from that era. Walking sticks had decorative crosses and bishop crosiers. At this time sticks had detachable handles or tips which served as a hidden compartment for money, jewelry, or weapons.

In Europe, canes were used as symbols of authority by kings. You can see monarchs holding their canes or resting on them in portraits. Louis XIV was seen with his cane in several portraits. By the 19th century just about everyone had a cane when production was in the hundreds of thousands Specialty canes were available in several stores as well as ornate ones designed and crafted by silversmiths.

Types

Decorative, use, and gadget walking sticks are the most common currently available. Decorative sticks and canes are mostly available through specialty shops mainly online. Many canes available through these specialty shops range from a nicely handcrafted elegant cane to a highly decorated hand grip topped cane with Swarovski crystals, brass plated, nickel plated, chrome plated, etc.. Materials through a specialty company for the hand grips could include hand carved wood with various designs including rabbits, dogs, ducks, fish, horse heads, and many others. Decorative canes can serve dual purpose for assisting the elderly and those with health conditions for useful purposes and fashion accessories. Commonly used materials for the handles include ivory, silver, wood, glass, and porcelain. Silver ranks among the most popular material types and often are shaped into animal figures or simple round knobs. Wooden handles are most often carved by hand while porcelain handles were formed using molds.

Many canes sold at pharmacies for medical use are made of lightweight aluminum and can be adjustable for proper height. A cane should come up to the waist and allow for a slight bend at the elbow when resting on it to be the proper height. This provides the most stability for walking with a cane. The following is a small list of sites that offer custom one of a kind specialty canes:


Custom Made – One off custom designs hand crafted by individual artists
Omega Art Works – This company allows you to submit a request for a custom made cane
Western Wood Art – This site teaches you how to make your own cane or walking stick
How To Make a Custom Fancy Walking Cane – this artist shares his advice on making a cane
Paul Jones Woodturners - Professional Woodturner
Lenny’s Canes – Another cane artist that offers one of a kind custom canes
Ed’s Custom Carved – This retired Army vet offers a variety of custom canes made of various wood
Wilson Walking Sticks – This small company makes custom themed canes hand painted and made to order
Ray’s Cane Co. – This artist produces custom heirloom canes and walking sticks in five different styles
Clear Canes – This company specializes in custom acrylic canes
Tomes Knives – This company offers sword canes and custom canes on a special order basis
Custom Walking Sticks – Woodcarver Shawn Cipa offers up his talents to those looking for detailed custom carved walking sticks.
Canes and Corkscrews – This company makes custom one of a kind pieces and functional art into canes and corkscrews– One off custom designs hand crafted by individual artists

 

Gadget Canes

Gadget canes are canes with built in creature comforts such as a flashlight or umbrella. This type of cane serves multiple purposes and can be quite handy if it begins to rain while out on your nightly stroll or becomes too dark to see. The term “gadget stick” is new however the ideas and concepts behind it are old. There are about two thousand patents issued for sticks that serve a dual purpose. These sticks can contain places to hide something, represent a rank, or match the profession of someone. Gadget sticks also include those that have a variety of uses. Some gadget sticks can contain a compass for those going on a nature hike, some might have a holder for glasses, binoculars, and telescopes.

Walking Sticks for Health

When walking for fitness it is common to use two “fitness poles” simultaneously and quickly which utilizes your upper body muscle groups. Using two sticks adds to the exercise benefit over walking without sticks because of the motion you do with your arms. About Health published an article you should read before purchasing fitness poles. Before you buy fitness walking or trekking poles offers expert advice on how to walk with poles and choosing single or double poles to use.

By:Ed Siceloff

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