Gnarly Walking Canes

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Project by GnarlyErik posted 07-21-2013 08:24 PM 3258 views 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve always admired walking canes, especially unusual ones. I still walk fine, thank you, (I will hit ’72’ in about a month), but a while back I figured ‘why not’? The time was right.

Most people treat you differently when you carry a cane – open doors for you, offer assistance, engage in conversation (often about the cane!), etc., etc. This is especially true if your cane is unusual or distinctive. Or, it could be simply because you already have a ‘persuader’ right there in your hand, all ready to go!

A custom cane ought to have character in my opinion – and not be just some simple, straight stick, and it ought to have a distinctive head too. So, I watch for suitable ‘cane stock’ in my travels, and carry a small limbing saw in my car for impromptu ‘harvesting’ when the occasion permits. The more twisted and gnarly a limb is within functional reason, the better it suits me – but then, that’s just me.

Since making my first cane about a year ago, I have made several more – and some are given to friends. Experimentation with material, finish, heads, etc. is ongoing. Here are a few examples recently done. One went to a friend and the others are still with me.

#1- This one went to a friend for his fiftieth birthday. It is made from a piece of ’sand juniper’ which grows on and near the beaches of Florida’s Gulf coast. This material is incredibly hard and tough as nails – you almost can not break it try as hard as you might. This piece was selected for having a hand-friendly crook at the top which serves as the head. Bark removed, sanded, varnished and tipped.

#2 – Made from a sycamore limb, and is more than tough enough for anything you might use it for – including self-defense! It is long enough to be used as either a cane, or hiking stick. The only drawback is sycamore can be quite brittle, so I can envision this one shattering if used as a club. The head is a purple-heart turning, which is relieved in the middle to provide a place for the thumb to rest in use – and it is quite comfortable, albeit maybe a little suggestive in shape, though that is unintended. The 1/8” nylon cord ‘seizing’ is for a handgrip. Finish is varnish over all.

#3 – Duck’s head cane; this one is made of crepe myrtle, not a material you would ordinarily think of for a walking cane, but it has proven to be quite durable. The duck head comes from a broken cane I picked up at an antique shop for a couple bucks. My wife expressed a (strong) interest in the duck’s head, so I cut down a previously made cane and installed the head. I don’t think she’s even used it yet!

#4 – Is my latest. The cane is made of live oak and the bird (hawk, scaled down to 7’ overall) is African mahogany, everything has four or more coats of clear varnish.

A note about the tips – where the rubber meets the road so to speak. My current method is to install a short piece of hard copper pipe or nipple as a tip. This is sweated over the bottom inch or so of the cane, sized to receive it. Over this goes a ‘crutch tip’ purchased online very reasonably. Tips can be had in many inside diameters from 3/8” on up, and different colors too. Cane #4 is still awaiting its tip which is on order. One advantage to the pipe tip is that the cane length can be sized to the individual (within reason) by varying the length of the tip. There are readily available online guides for sizing canes to the individual.

-- "Never let your dogma be run over by your karma!"

8 comments so far

View hunter71's profile


3249 posts in 3329 days

#1 posted 07-21-2013 09:15 PM

Cool cane. They are a popular item with everyone.

-- A childs smile is payment enough.

View Skylark53's profile


2676 posts in 3202 days

#2 posted 07-21-2013 10:17 PM

Nice original touch to a tool that most of us will need sometime or another.

-- Rick, Tennessee, John 3:16

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 2434 days

#3 posted 07-21-2013 10:29 PM

Nice job/jobs!

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View S4S's profile


2118 posts in 2823 days

#4 posted 07-21-2013 10:38 PM

Nice lines and great carving ! That sand juniper has a really nice grain and the handle
looks like a comfortable fit .

View ldl's profile


1135 posts in 2507 days

#5 posted 07-22-2013 02:04 AM

Nice job on the canes. Like the hawk.

-- Dewayne in Bainbridge, Ga. - - No one can make you mad. Only you decide when you get mad - -

View majuvla's profile


13009 posts in 3010 days

#6 posted 07-23-2013 05:31 PM

Exellent sticks. The tops are amaizing

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View Fishinbo's profile


11362 posts in 2318 days

#7 posted 07-24-2013 04:31 PM

Unique and interesting canes, each have great personality. Like most the one with the great bird carving. Great work!

View Mauricio's profile


7144 posts in 3294 days

#8 posted 07-29-2013 06:29 PM

Great looking canes! I especially like #4!

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

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