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In the world of wooden walking canes and sticks, the sky is the limit. Anything is possible, which is why so many skilled craftsman, artists and hobbyists began creating their own incarnations. In this comprehensive guide, learn more about the wooden cane, its use, and the craft. Plus, find an overview of some of the most popular styles and classifications of the wooden cane so you know what separates one from the other, and what you may prefer for your own use.Most people can go into a local store and find a metal cane for a few dollars, so why choose a wooden cane or walking stick? A well-crafted wooden cane is going to be sturdier, more durable and even safer than its aluminum counterpart since it doesn't conduct electricity.
Aluminum canes are popular because of the multitude of beautiful patterns available, and because they are adjustable. With the wooden cane, the possibilities are endless in terms of shape, style, texture, color, design and more. A wooden cane also provides its owner with an air of authenticity, character and class.
Wooden walking sticks have a heritage that dates back to at least the 1600s in their modern form. The saying goes, when men put down their swords, they started carrying canes. Of course, walking sticks surely go back farther than that, likely all the way to the era of hunter-gatherers where they may have been used for functional support.Derby Canes: Derby canes are what most people envision when they think of a "cane". It is said to be the invention of Lord Derby who wanted a supportive wooden walking stick that he could hang over his arm. The derby cane has a specific hooked handle that offers support, comfort and convenience.
Tourist Canes: Tourist canes utilize the full curve or shepherd's crook as a handle. This is a traditional choice that is quite common.
Knob Handles: A knob on top of this cane offers a partial handle and a rounded surface for grip and support.
The Shillelagh: The classic Irish walking stick has a distinctive appearance, made from tough Irish Blackthorn wood, most commonly adorned with a knob handle.
Animals: Many canes feature intricate handles designed as animals, from elegant birds to fierce predators, or any type of creature in between.
Ergonomic Canes: This style is carefully designed to provide proper posture and support for different ailments, back problems, arthritis, or other issues. It may also be designed specifically for left- or right-handed individuals.
Spiral Carved Canes: Spiral carved canes feature intricate carving and line work down the entire shaft, or a portion of the shaft, which creates a spiral.
Inlaid & Exotic: Precious metals and gemstones may be set into the handle or along the shaft of a wooden cane. Colorful and rare woods may be inlaid in intricate patterns.
Plain Hiking Sticks: On the other end of the spectrum from inlaid and exotic canes is a plain hiking stick. This is a sturdy stick with no adornments or carvings. It is important to note that most "canes" are generally about three feet in height, while "walking sticks" are typically about five feet.
This is not an exhaustive list of all types of wooden walking canes. Depending on your taste, preference and budget, you will certainly be able to find something that is a match for your style and your needs. There really are no limits, whether it is the incorporation of unique woods and other materials, specific carvings, designs and customizations, intricate handles, or more.The creation of a high quality wooden walking cane is something which many craftsmen have spent a lifetime perfecting. But whether you want to take it up as a hobby for yourself, or simply learn more about it, this section will give you an overview of the craftsman’s process.
Stick SelectionCreating and designing a wooden walking cane begins with stick selection. Important qualities the craftsman considers include the length, diameter and weight of a stick. What type of wood is it? This affects strength, durability, and physical appearance. Does it have any knots? These weaken the wood and make it difficult to properly smooth or finish, but can be incorporated into designs. Does it have branches? These could be utilized as natural handles. Lastly, is the stick healthy and rot-free?
There is a variety of tools and safety equipment that are necessary for creating a wooden walking cane. It will depend on the desired outcome, but these tools could include a table, band or hand saws, a box cutter or knife, some type of sander and extra sand paper, a drill press and dowels, wood glue or epoxy, an oil or polyurethane finish, and of course the wood itself. For safety, craftsmen need goggles and gloves, and many wear a dust mask and ear protection.
First, the craftsman trims the stick, removing any branches or extensions. He or she then removes the stick's bark and dries the stick. Next, the stick is sanded, making two or three passes with finer grains of sand paper. Finally, the cane-maker oils the stick and lets it dry.
Design & AdornmentAt this point, the basic wooden walking cane or stick is finished. It can be left as is, or intricate handles can be fashioned and adornments added. If the intention is to carve the stick, depending on how intricate or large the design, this can be completed prior to finishing the stick with its last coatings of oil.
Whether you are all about style and statement, or simply about function, the wooden cane and or wooden walking stick has a long heritage, and a wide and diverse modern collection of options. This functional and attractive instrument will continue to be part of daily life for many individuals into the foreseeable future.