|Project by GnarlyErik||posted 07-21-2013 08:24 PM||2109 views||0 times favorited||8 comments|
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.
-- Candy is dandy and rum sure is fun, but wood working is the best high for me!