Rons Primitive Skills

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Update on walking stick or staff

The staff project is going very well. I had to apply wood glue to the ends every day for nearly a week to seal any new cracks. For the past two days it has held up well and there are no new cracks showing. The glue and the fact that I left the bark on has done a great job of keeping it intact. I have included a photo that shows a mulberry rabbit stick that I got about the same time. I de-barked it and let it dry out. You can see the horrendous cracks that developed. These are all along the length of the stick. Its still a good "down and dirty" type of quick build stick but it shows what happens when you hurry things. Patience is a virtue. Had this been a bow stave it would be ruined.


Fred Theilig said...

If you seal it with glue, does the wood ever dry out? I have a plan to make walking sticks for cub scouts and was planning on taking the bark off and allowing it to dry. I never thought about using wood glue to seal it.

Ron Layton said...

Hi Fred Yes, it eventually dries out. It just takes longer. Most woods will crack from shrinkage if you de-bark them. It depends on the moisture content of the wood most of the time so if you gather yours in the driest part of the year you should be OK. I would take a sample and try it first to see what happens and if there are no or very minimal shrinkage cracks go for it.

deanS said...

Hi I enjoy the subjects of bushcraft and woodworking and have you looked into using paraffin or beeswax to seal the ends of your staffs? I've noticed that woodworkers that work with green wood(turners,carvers) use waxes to keep the cracking down. You might also try an natural oil finish like tung oil.

Ron Layton said...

Hi Dean S
I use cheap old wood glue (99 cents at the el cheapo store) because its quick and easy. For a piece of serious work such as a bowl or expensive, fancy wood I would use a better crack inhibitor like bee's wax. As for finish, I rarely use any on staffs and sticks. On bows I use boiled linseed oil.
Take care

Mattexian said...

I had the same problem with some oak sticks I was trying to make shillelaghs out of. I debarked the first and within a couple of days it cracked lengthwise all over, left the other with bark on and it's doing fine. I've also got a pecan walking staff that I'm leaving the bark on, so far I've wiped them with boiled linseed oil a few times.

Ron Layton said...

Hi Mattexian Thanks for the comment. I haven't used anything on my stick yet but will be giving it several coats of boiled linseed oil(BLO). That should really bring out the color and details of the bark. I filed all the bud and branch scars from the staff and it looks pretty good. I'll be sure and post a photo when I've given it the BLO treatment.