How to Pick a Branch for Carving a Walking Stick? | BC Series #19
Let’s suppose you have got an idea to carve a beautiful walking stick. You could make it for yourself, give it as a present or, maybe, sell it. How to choose a tree branch for this purpose? Will any wood do well or are there exceptions? Can you just cut it from a tree and carve a walking stick? These are the questions we’ll answer in this short article, so keep on reading.
You can choose branches of different trees for making walking sticks. It can be ash, beech, birch, cherry, maple or walnut. Butternut and dogwood will be easy to carve. But don’t use basswood for a walking stick. Even when dry, basswood is easy to mark even with a bench or a rock, and using it for walking stick is not a great idea. Aspen is not good either because it will not be strong enough.
What size the branch should be
Measure the desired length. For this, put your arm down and bend it up 90 degrees in the elbow. The distance from the ground to your palm will be the perfect length of a walking stick for you. Pay attention that the branch you choose should be a little longer because the ends of the branch may split or be spoiled and it is possible that you will have to cut them off. The branch must be straight and thick enough so that when you take some material off while carving, it will still remain sturdy, at least 1 inch in diameter.
Don’t forget about a grip
In the end, the branch should be wider, this is where you will make a grip. For this, you can use a part of the trunk, in this case, you have to cut the branch with the part of the trunk. Another way to make a grip is to have a branch with a burl, which is a growth on a branch.
Green or Dry?
It might be easier to find a suitable branch right in the tree and cut it off. But you will have to wait several months for it to dry before you will be able to start carving. If you are cutting a fresh branch, leave the side branches on it and let them dry together. It’s better for the stick to cut the side branches later, you will avoid cracks which would have appeared in the places where the branches are attached. Think of bringing parts of these side branches into the design. A part of a branch will make a nice head or a tail of a little animal or a bird.
If you have found a fallen tree in the woods, check it, it might have dried already and might be suitable for making the stick. The dry wood is harder and when you bang two branches against each other, they will make a ringing sound, not a low, dull sound; the bark may be falling off them. The dry wood should be strong and sturdy, in this case, you can choose it and start making your walking stick.
For this job you will need a carving tool