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What wood and finish for arctic temperatures

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Forum topic by mahdee posted 01-28-2018 05:47 PM 363 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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mahdee

3890 posts in 1795 days


01-28-2018 05:47 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question walnut cherry finishing

Hi and thanks in advance for your advice.
I have fellow who works in the arctic and wants a walking stick that can handle the temperatures up there. He said if the wood has any moisture in it, it will crack. At first I thought of oak but it being porous, it may not be a good idea. I lived in Alaska for a few years and travelled to a lot of the Eskimo villages but never saw anyone with a stick; I suppose it is hard to find something straight in tundra. Most everything else up there are evergreens and bitch. Also, I am wondering about the finish; should it be a penetrating oil of some sort or something like poly. I thought about experimenting using my freezer but it won’t go past -20.

-- earthartandfoods.com


4 replies so far

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CaptainKlutz

284 posts in 1522 days


#1 posted 01-28-2018 07:39 PM

Sorry, no experience with outdoor walking stick in arctic conditions. But some experience with temps down to -20?

- IMHO – Wood hiking stick is a disposable item. While we prefer to keep one forever. If you use it on hard/uneven ground; the tip wears, end cracks, and it gets shorter as you trim off damaged end regardless of weather conditions. Used to make a new one every couple of years when lived in north. About only walking stick I have seen last “almost forever” is one using a replaceable screw-on metal/plastic tip that was 98% used in an urban environment. The same “metal tip” concept is also used for antique ski poles (modern ski poles are aluminum or composite).

- Wood selection is important. Walking stick is most durable when using a med-hard wood with tight grain from a slow growing tree. Like old fairy tail: Not too hard, not too soft; need something just right. Have used sticks made from Oak, Sycamore, Hickory, and Olive. Have a very fine grain Olive wood last longest, followed by Hickory second.

- You are not going to be able to completely stop water infiltration in wood, especially on a walking stick used on snow/mud. Hence, best solution is to stop/reduce the impact from inevitable temperature/humidity cycles.
Hiking stick recommendation from an antique Boy Scout handbook is:
Embellish the walking stick with spiral wrapped cordage to add strength and prevent splits/cracks from traveling along the grain of wood. Para-cord is commonly braided on top to create softer handle and retaining strap for hiking rough terrain or snowshoeing. Heavy weight thread works better on lower end to reduce weight. It is good idea to paint the binding thread with oil based varnish to reduce moisture absorption.

Not wood related, but another solution – One material that holds up well in extreme cold environment is Fiber Reinforced Plastic (FRP). High-tech big game hunters can buy composite mono-pod shooting stick that can double as a hiking stick. Internet is full of home made versions due high cost of composites.

Regards.

-- I'm an engineer not a woodworker, but I can randomly find useful tools and furniture inside a pile of lumber!

View AxkMan's profile

AxkMan

65 posts in 154 days


#2 posted 01-29-2018 03:17 AM

Maple is a good solid wood, though difficult to work with. If poly or oil, I would go with oil. You can coat with glaze coat though it will be slick. Make it very durable to the temperature, however.

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Redoak49

3287 posts in 2016 days


#3 posted 01-29-2018 12:10 PM

The biggest issue is probably that it is so dry with the very cold temps.

View Mario's profile

Mario

176 posts in 3424 days


#4 posted 01-29-2018 12:29 PM

Conifers grow in some of the coldest places on earth, that would be a good starting point and as finish a good marine grade urethane thinly applied should be adequate, however even a no finish approach ,might be advisable for temperatures below -40.

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