Classy Walking Stick

By

Cree Vicar Dave ~ SASS Life Regulator #49907

A walking stick is always a nice addition to a Cowboy Action Shooting™ participant’s outfit.  A few years back I wrote an article about the first walking stick constructed in my shop.  There have been several compliments given about the cane at shooting matches and also when I carry it at other events.  It has a silver one ounce coin connected to the top of the deer antler handle.  The tip and the coupling (that joins the wood shaft to the antler handle) on this first cane were plated with solder to look like silver.  At the time I couldn’t find any place around that did plating.  As time passed the solder lost its luster and turned dull. 

While at our annual family Christmas party last December my nephew, Bruce, mentioned to me that he had a small plating machine and that he could nickel plate the parts for my cane.  That got me to thinking about refurbishing my cane.  So I removed the tip and coupling from the walking stick and put together a couple more tips and couplings and sent them to my nephew for plating.  In the process I remodeled my cane and built another one for my nephew and my boy, Gold Tooth Dave, who shoots with me at our club in Michigan, Sucker Creek Saddle & Gun Club.  These walking sticks look like they walked right out of the 1800s.  It says in Proverbs 22:1 (NIV) , 


A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.” 

Shiny Accoutrements are very impressive but integrity has much more worth. 

Ta start with a cane should be sized to your stature.  When standing erect with your boots on, arms down at your side (hands not touching any guns) have someone measure from the floor to your wrist a little above your hand.  This is the optimum length.  Some like to add an inch or so for comfort. 

Roughed in cane shaft along side finished one.  I aim at roughing in the shaft diameter size to around 1/16" over size and then sand to size (including bringing out the grain). I use a tubing cutter to mark & undercut the shaft so it can be shaped to accept coupling and tip.  This makes a nice even line and helps keep the wood from splitting beyond the cut. View showing handle fit to top of shaft.  I use a little "DAP" Acrylic Latex Plus Silicone caulk when the final fit is made to increase strength and help keep the handle from unscrewing. View showing tip installation.  A proper hole size was drilled in the bottom of the shaft for the screw size being used.  Then a three cornered file was used to cut 2 or 3 cross marks in the screw end .  This makes the screw act as a tap and there is less likelihood of splitting the wood.  At this point in finishing the cane the last thing anyone would want is to start making another shaft.

 

The coupling is a 3/4" copper pipe solder coupling.  It is approximately 1” OD.  The tip was made out of 1/2" copper pipe.  One half inch copper pipe has a 5/8” OD.  A long tapered drift was securely placed in a vice.  A short piece of 1/2" copper pipe around 6” long was slipped over the drift, heated, and driven onto the drift until the end being expanded is around 3/4" OD and then allowed to cool.  After it was removed from the drift the tip was cut with a tubing cutter to around 2” long.  That makes the tip taper; 3/4" OD by 5/8” OD by 2” long.  The bottom of the tip had a small piece of metal soldered inside it and then drilled and countersunk to accept a screw. 

The tip was made out of 1/2" copper pipe (5/8" outside diameter).  A long tapered drift was firmly secured in a vise and a short piece of the copper pipe pipe was slipped over it, heated, and tapped onto drift until the outside diameter was around 3/4" outside diameter for the top end.  Then the pipe was cut to around 2" long.  A brass patch was soldered into the inside bottom of the tip and a hole was drilled in it to fit the size of the screw that was used to hold the tip onto the shaft.  A proper sized washer could also be soldered in.  The coupling is around 1-5/8" long and was made from a 3/4" copper pipe solder coupling that is around 1" outside diameter.  Next they were plated. Plated coupling at top & tip at bottom.  The coupling is around 1-5/8" long (Made from a 3/4" copper pipe solder coupling) and the tip is around 2" long (Made from 1/2" copper pipe). View showing the outside diameter of the coupling & tip bottom.  The coupling is around 1" outside diameter.  The tip is around 5/8" outside diameter at it's bottom where the hole is drilled in it and around 3/4" outside diameter on the end that slips onto the wood shaft bottom. The coin was made con-caved using a ball peen hammer and proper sized holes made in a piece of wood that holds the coin in place and at the same time allows the coin to be depressed to the form of the antler drop.   The silver coin has a 1/4"-20 TPI X 5/8" long flat head brass machine screw soldered on center to it's con-caved side.  The antler drop end is drilled, tapped and counter sunk on center at the correct angle to accept the coin screw.  Some type of marking was used to show the high spots on antler, then it was filed down to assure proper fit.  If coin is not wanted, the antler drop end can be filed, sanded and polished smoothed.

 

Next a stout piece of hardwood around 1.125” x 1.125” by around 38” or so long without any knots or other defects needs to be procured for a shaft.  I used red oak because it has great looking grain but mostly because that’s the type of air dried wood that I have the most of.  If air dried wood is used it should be at least three years old.  The top of the shaft where it meets the handle was turned and sanded to 1” OD and the bottom where it meets the top of the tip should be turned and sanded to the 3/4" OD size.  (The length of the shaft must be kept in mind when turning the OD of the shaft)  Keep in mind how long the handle will be when calculating the length of the shaft.  A tubing cutter was used to undercut the wood to the correct length and depth to accept the full length of the tip on the shaft bottom and half the length of the coupling at the shaft top.  A correct sized hole was drilled in the bottom of the shaft to accept the screw that fastens the tip to the bottom.   It’s best to use a self tapping screw so as not to expand the wood shaft causing it to crack.  A small 3 cornered file can be used to cross cut the screw threads at the screw tip to make it work like a tap.  The top of the shaft has a 1/4"-20 x 1.250” threaded hole centered to accept a 1/4"-20 threaded rod that holds the deer antler to the top of the shaft. 

View showing the separate cane parts at top and finished cane at bottom with rubber tip installed.  When I made the first cane, at bottom, I cut the brow tine off and smoothed it over, but when the next one was being made I thought that the brow tine looked kind of neat, so I left it on. The rubber tips were found at ACE Hardware.  They come in assorted sizes.  They also make rubber tips specifically for a cane which might be a better fix. The wood shaft was sanded to size and the grain was brought out 3 times then a coat of "MINWAX" Golden Oak was applied and it was left to dry.  Then the wood shaft was given 7 coats of "MINWAX" Antique Oil Finish, sanding with a Scotch Brite green pad in-between coats.  The antler handle was given a couple coats of Antique Oil Finish as well. A little "DAP" Acrylic Latex Plus Silicone Crystal Clear caulk was used on all fittings.  The reason that I use this type "DAP" brand caulk is because it cleans up with water, dries very clear, it is long lasting and parts can usually be removed easily with care.

 

The handle could be made of wood, antler, etc.  A deer antler drop was used here.  I cut the brow tine off on the first cane I made but left them on for the next ones.  I thought it added character.  An antler drop has a convex shape at the end where it falls off a deer’s head in the winter.  When choosing an antler the size and shape should be considered.  The convex shaped end should be acceptable for the top of the handle and the sawed off end that fits into the top opening of the coupling should be around 1” or a little more.   Always use eye and ear protection and especially a dust mask when working on wood and antlers.  The antler can be filed, sanded, polished and cut to length (around 4” to 5.5” long) to used as is for the cane handle.  Or a round metal object (like a silver coin) can be shaped to fit the convex of the antler drop, have a 1/4"-20 flat head brass machine screw silvered soldered to the concave side and affixed to the top of the antler handle.  Many silver coins have one side that has no writing in the center, I used this side for the top.  Alias and/or badge number can be placed on the coin.  The antler handle was cut to length (around 5” long) and made to align to the wood shaft.  If a metal coin is used for the top of the handle, place centered 1/4”-20 threaded counter sunk hole in the top to accept the brass screw silvered soldered to the coin.  The end of the antler that was cut was shaped to fit inside the coupling to meet the top of the wood shaft.  A 1/4"-20 around 1.230” deep threaded hole centered is placed in the end of the antler handle that fits into the coupling.  A 1/4"-20 threads per inch threaded rod should be cut to proper length to connect the handle to the shaft. 

I brought out the grain on the wood shaft three times and then stained it with MINWAX Golden Oak stain.  Then the wood was given seven thin coats of MINWAX Antique Oil Finish; sanded between coats with a Scotch Brite green pad.  The antler was given a couple coats of MINWAX Antique Oil Finish to seal it. 

After the tip and coupling were plated the walking stick was assembled using a little “DAP”, Crystal Clear, Acrylic Latex Caulk Plus Silicone caulk inside the tip, coupling, on the threads and the coin.  The coin center can have something etched on it then polished.  I inscribed my SASS alias and number on the coin with an electric engraver using magnifier head strap jeweler glasses.  Then 3M WETORDRY car sand paper was used to smooth the center of the coin; starting with around 200 grit and ending with around 1500 grit.  Silver polish was used to make it shine.  A rubber tip was placed on the bottom of the tip (with a little caulk) to help keep the cane from slipping on the floor. 

(left to right) Gold Tooth Dave and Cree Vicar Dave both sporting their "Classy Walking Stick".  There is nothing like a handsome looking cane to set off an outfit.

 

The finished walking sticks look very impressive if I do say so myself.   If made properly they will hold with sound integrity.  Genesis 47:31b NIV says “…and Israel worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.” 

Always follow all safety rules while using power and hand tools.  And remember to use safety glasses, ear protection and dust masks as needed. 

 

Hope ta see ya on the trail.  

God bless,

creevicardave@hotmail.com       

www.suckercreek.org