Stick Making – A Good Hobby for the Retirement Years

Stick making is an inexpensive, interesting and sociable hobby. There is lots to learn, plenty of room for creativity and you can keep it simple or work towards complicated, show stopper projects. Stick making is a hobby that spans all of the levels; from basic beginners to exhibiting in shows run by your local Stick Makers Guild. I have put together this post to cover what you need to know to get started and perhaps in the future, we can sell your handmade sticks for you!


There are lots of videos, discussion forums and books on stick making out there for you to research before you start, if only to see what is possible to make.

Next you need some stick making materials. You can either buy the parts from or you can pick the wood yourself from you local woods, hedgerows or thickets. Apart from the wood for the handle and the shanks, you also need something to connect the handle to the shank, a collar (optional) and a metal ferrule to go on to the tip. These can be machine made or you can purchase them ready made in different sizes from Emilyhannah Limited.

The wood for the stick shanks needs to be dried for two years and then steam straightened. You can do this yourself or buy them ready prepared. Hunting for sticks in your local countryside is a thoroughly rewarding and pleasurable hobby in itself especially when you find something really special and rare. All of the other materials you might need ( such as antler pieces for a walking stick handle or horn spacers) you can also buy online.

What tools do you need for stick making? You will need a vice and a work bench or other work space, a drill, some epoxy glue, a good wood work carving knife, a fine tooth saw or hack saw, different grades of sanding sponges and different graded files or rasps.

Apart from an electric drill, you only really need hand tools to make walking sticks but if you really get into this hobby and want to make certain tasks quicker then there are a few power tools you could go for. In particular a belt sander for forming the tip of the stick where the ferrule will be attached to and forming the handle so that it connects nicely to the shank.

To finish the sticks you will need danish or linseed oil or some outdoor furniture varnish, something to seal the wood and protect it from wear and tear. There are lots of different options here and it is entirely up to you what finish you want your sticks to have. Just with every other part of stick making, you can keep it simple or you can experiment and do all sorts of things.

Quickthorn Shanks Now Available in Stick Making Section

Stick makers listen up! The new quickthorn shanks are 150cm in length, perfect for tall stick projects. Now in stock and available to purchase on the website, these shanks are supplied with a metal ferrule tip already fitted.
Quickthorn is another name for Hawthorn and like all thorn trees the branches are oval in cross section and are covered in thorns in the wild. For these shanks the branches have their thorns removed and the wood is dried for at least two years and then steam straightened.
Quickthorn (or Hawthorn) Walking Stick Shank for Stick Making
Quickthorn (or Hawthorn) Walking Stick Shank for Stick Making


Can Anyone Make one of These Walking Sticks?

We have had a request to make a walking stick like this famous one below:

Isambard Kingdom Brunel's Walking Stick
Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s Walking Stick

Isambard Kingdom Brunel was a famous engineer (1806 to 1859) best known for building the Great Western Railway. He also built bridges, ships and railway stations.

The walking stick he carried folds out into a track gauge. The man really loved the railway!

The type of gauge of the walking stick track was the pioneering broad gauge of 7ft. The Great Western Railway was unique in using this size gauge and the whole of the network in the 1830s/40s was built using broad gauge. Brunel changed the face of Wiltshire and the South West and was at the cutting edge of engineering and design. Brunel controlled the whole design process and construction of the Great Western Railway and it is likely that he took this walking cane with him when inspecting the newly built lines.

The Great Western Railway fought hard to keep the broad gauge, but uniformity prevailed and the gauge was eventually changed to the standard gauge of 4ft 8 1/2 inches in 1892.

If you fancy making one of these walking sticks or if you know anyone who can, please contact us today.

Walking Stick Shanks or Shafts for Stick Makers Now In Stock

Make your own walking stick using the handle of your choice with our
straightened shafts or shanks. All of our new shanks are fitted with a metal
ferrule and are ready to be drilled and a handle connected.

Choose from hazel, chestnut, beech, blackthorn and maple wood shafts.
Some have the bark attached and some are turned smooth. The turned
maple and beech shafts also have brass collars already attached as well
as the metal ferrules. So, depending on whether you want to make a smart,
formal looking cane or a rustic country walking stick we have a good
selection to help you on your way.

If you want to make lots of walking sticks then take advantage of our bundle
prices. The shanks in the bundle selections have all been grown, selected
and coppiced locally (near the city of Cambridge). They have then been
stored in a dry shed for two to three years and then steam straightened and
cut. These shanks do not have metal ferrules attached, it is just the shanks
you are buying. These shanks are of excellent quality and look amazing
when the stick is finished. The stick maker who prepares these, selects,
coppices and straightens them is an engineer and a perfectionist and he
uses the shanks to make walking sticks designed to last a lifetime, at least!

We can also source twisty hazel, blackthorn and ash shanks but these are
quite rare. The twist is caused by honeysuckle or ivy climbing around the
tree and as they grow together the honeysuckle or ivy gets thicker and
thicker and the tree beneath it becomes twistier and twistier. These shanks
look excellent on a walking stick because they are natural and amazing.

If you have any comments or suggestions or you can supply us with dried,
straightened shanks for stick making then please contact us via the website.

To go and have a look, please click on the following link: walking stick shanks.

Stick Making Kits. Make Your Own Walking Stick

Build your own walking stick with our ready prepared stick making kits.
Fancy making your own walking stick? Try one of our ready-turned, ready-straightened and ready prepared stickmaking kits today.

You don’t need any special tools as all of the parts in the kits have been prepared for each stick so that all is required is to bond the parts together. Then it’s just the finishing. You can either polish, oil or varnish the stick and the handle to give it the desired finish.

Each kit is supplied with full instructions as well and if you have ANY questions or suggestions please do contact us via the website.

All of the component parts are locally sourced in Britain and handmade and hand turned in Britain too.

The various kits available are for a wooden hiking stick, a deer antler thumbstick, a blackthorn stick and a rare twisty hazel wood stick.

These kits will make excellent Christmas presents for young or old, habitual wood workers and complete novices.

Make Your Own Walking Stick
Make Your Own Walking Stick

Stick Making Reading List

The internet is such a brilliant resource (whatever did we do before Google?) that you can find hundreds of blogs, articles and website all about the art of stick making.
If you prefere to read the printed word, then there a lots of good books out there on the subject.
Here is a brief guide to a selection of books for stick makers available to but on Amazon:

Stickmaking Handbook, Stickmaking: A Complete Course (Master Craftsmen) and Stickmaking: A Complete Course by Andrew Jones and Clive George (7 May 2009). These book have had many good reviews with comments such as; good pictures and clear instructions.
Wooden Tops: Guide to Carving Walking Sticks by Roy Griffin (May 1996). From the review of this book its sounds like a an inspirational and creative book about hand carving your own walking stick, could be a good present for somebody interested in stick making…
Make Your Own Walking Sticks: How to Craft Canes and Staffs from Rustic to Fancy by Charles R. Self (1 Sep 2007). This book sounds like a good all-rounder. Nice images, step by
step instructions and ideas for projects.

The Craft of Stickmaking by Leo Gowan (27 Oct 2000). This book was written by a professional stick maker who also wrote “Stickmaking”

MAKING WALKING STICKS FOR A HOBBY by David Dawson (2000). This guide was written by an engineer turned retired, stick-making hobbyist. It sounds very thorough and interesting.

There are quite a few more out there! Try searching for “carving”, “woodwork”, “Whittling”, “wood craft”, “stick making” etc, etc…

Customize your Walking Stick

For all the Artistic people out there why not get some Paintbrushes out and get creative with your Walking Stick. Anyone that watches the TV Series “House” would have seen Dr Gregory House’s (Hugh Laurie) own array of Walking Sticks such as this one with cool flames along the side of it as seen here. walking-stick-housesmall.jpgThe possibilities are endless, you could make it Autumnal by painting leaves on it or a Wintery one with Snow, paint your name on it or a loved ones name, dedicate your stick to a Musician you like, there’s a million designs you could do, give it some thought. However if a Paintbrush isn’t your friend then you could instead ask a friend or a relative if they wouldn’t mind designing and/or painting your Walking Stick for you. You will need a water based gloss enamel paint and something to hang your stick to so you can paint it easily without smudging it. After you have finished painting it get a lacquer spray to seal the paint and to stop your beautiful art from being damaged. So go ahead and personalize your Walking Stick. Have fun Painting!

Try a Walking Stick Making Course in the Yorkshire Dales

I bought my dad a walking stick making day course for his birthday last year and he cannot recommend it strongly enough. We all spent a lovely weekend in Dentdale in the Yorkshire Dales and my dad spent one day in a little workshop in the scenically lovely Dales.

Ivy Cottage is in its 7th year of running their popular ‘One-day Stick Making Course’ in the workshop situated in Dentdale. Could this be the ideal gift for a birthday or Christmas present?

Brian Bannister of Ivy Cottage (sticks4you) says, “To ensure individual attention, we only take six people on each course. During the day you will make and complete a wooden headed crook. No experience is necessary. We start at 8.45 am and finish at 4.30pm. The fee for the full day course includes a tasty lunch and you can take the stick you made home with you.”

Highly recommended weekend in a beautiful part of the country. Excellent views, walks, pubs and people.