Carving walking sticks wasn’t meant to be a money-making hobby for me. I sometimes made them when backpacking, and I had always enjoyed taking my pocket knife to a piece of wood to see what I could make. I just hadn’t thought of doing anything more with the hobby.
One summer, when my wife Ana and I briefly got into the flea market business, I noticed the occasional vendor selling walking sticks. If the event was more of an arts and crafts show than a flea market, they sold for as much as $50 each. Ana suggested that we could sell them too, so I went to work.
One portion of making hiking and walking sticks and staff is wood carving. Several people have requested information on how to start carving walking sticks wood spirits even before they know the basic of how to make a walking stick or staff. This is a big mistake. Wood carving images on hiking staffs and walking sticks with details takes practice. Just like painting you need to know basic hiking stick making how to’s before jumping into portrait painting.
First you need to select the right wood and we highly suggest aspen, basswood, willow and similar wood for making your walking stick. Stay away for hard woods at first because they require more effort to carve and more knowledge of wood grains.
Now use practice branches smaller pieces of wood to carve basic shapes. Try to carve straight lines around the walking stick. Then do simple wood carving such as one described How to easily make unique walking an hiking sticks guides. I have seen many people trying to do more detailed wood carving then their experience and destroy great walking sticks and staffs. Making hiking and walking sticks is a great hobby. Take it step by step or you may fall into the trap of becoming frustrated with the hobby.
1. Determine the correct length of wood you need. It is recommended that you collect limbs that are equal to your height. This will give a starting stick longer than needed, but this allows for any mistakes made during the cutting.
2. Know what wood to look for:
Look for dead wood. An ideal walking stick should be stiff, and living wood will be too flexible. In addition, taking wood from a living forest may be environmentally damaging or even illegal in some locations.
The wood from dead Aspen trees make beautiful smooth walking sticks.
3. Find a location to collect wood from.
In the desert, some cactus trunks make great sticks. (Note – there are laws in some areas against collecting cactus limbs or trunks.)
Do not go to your local park and start cutting away. There laws against damaging public property. In some places it is considered vandalism. Find a forest or heavy wooded area. Be respectful of other people rights. If you are in a fenced-in areas, a lot or behind some one else’s home be careful. Do not trespass. Consider what may happen if you reported. Get permission first! Some species of trees are protected.
If taking wood from a live tree, try to collect in an area that could tolerate some thinning. In fact, thinning even promotes growth of the saplings that are not collected. If possible leave a portion of the sapling with at least one branch with leaves.
4. Use your pocket saw to balded and cut around the limb.
5. Once you cut completely around the limb, cut through it as straight as possible.
6. Remove the bark completely, or leave the second layer. The second layer of most bark looks pretty nice on most trees.
7. Shave off the bumps with a shaving plane if you removed the bark completely. This would be smart for a Handmade Bo staff (more comfort).
8. If you want to decorate it, do whatever you like. The tools for this will vary.
9. Seal it. Use oil base for Bo staffs and hiking sticks, this is your choice though. Always wear gloves when applying oil based sealer; it will dry out your palms.
How much could you make selling walking sticks? Who knows. I sold about $1200 in walking sticks that summer, before we moved on to try an internet business. They were a nice addition to our other crafts and the stuffed animals we sold at various flea markets. My advantage was that I was very efficient in making them, spending less than an hour even on the most elaborate ones.