Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Hiking Stick

With Brass Ferrule, Tapered Grip, Wrist Strap, and Lichtenberg Figures

     Yes, this is just a hiking stick.  I know that this isn't really much of a project, but it has a few neat features that I wanted to record for future reference.  So, without further ado, here's the stick:

     Please disregard my messy network cabinet, it has since been straightened up.  The stick is made from Diamond Willow, which is a very pale color, almost white.  I didn't really like the look of a white hiking stick, so I stained it with some black cherry stain that I had leftover from refurbishing my hardwood floors.  Unfortunately, on the white wood, black cherry turns out bright purple.  The purple hiking stick was worse than a white hiking stick, so I sanded it off and went with a regular cherry stain.  I then finished it with Teak Oil, which I think will hold up better to regular outdoor use than polyurethane or lacquer.  Now, onto the "features":

     The Lichtenberg Figures are just decoration, nothing special, although they did turn out better than I expected (except for the part near the handle that looks "smudged" from where the stick caught on fire.)  The handle itself is wrapped in paracord to add a little cushion to the grip.  I carved a shoulder into the stick at the top and bottom of the grip that then tapered out toward the middle of the grip, so where the paracord meets the wood it is flush, but then the grip tapers out to be slightly thicker than the stick.  

     The best part of this project is the adjustable wrist strap.  I used to own a set of lightweight "trekking poles" that had wrist straps, and I never knew how important they were until I used them.  After a long day of hiking with a stick or a pole, your hands will get very tired from gripping the stick tightly all day.  The wrist strap allows you to put the majority of the weight on your wrist, greatly reducing hand fatigue.  I picked up a pair of "sleeping bag straps" at a local sporting goods store for less than $2 and they worked perfectly.  I drilled a 3/8" hole in the stick, fed the strap through, and then secured the strap to the stick with exterior wood screws.  Going through the hole in the stick should reduce the strain on the strap enough that I don't expect it to pull out of the screws. 

     Last, but certainly not least, is the brass ferrule I added to the tip of the stick to prevent the stick from splitting at the bottom:

     Our local hardware store sells these as brass sleeve bearings, but I like to use them as ferrules when making lathe tools because the brass is soft enough to turn on the wood lathe to add a little extra detail.  They are also very dull when first purchased so I usually shine them up by sanding them down to 1200 grit paper (the one pictured above on the stick is a little scratched from use).  When turning brass on a wood lathe it is important to set your lathe to the lowest possible speed.  I use a homemade skew chisel to SCRAPE (not cut) the decorative rings into the brass.  To secure the ferrule on the lathe I chucked up a piece of ash, and then turned a taper.  Using my largest live center on the tailstock I can push the ferrule into the ash taper and it holds really well.
     Once the ferrule was shined up and ready, I hand carved a shoulder onto the end of the stick, making the outer diameter of the end of the stick just slightly larger than the inner diameter of the ferrule.  I ended up having to use sand paper to get it just right.  I then hammered the ferrule onto the stick, using a second brass bearing to push it down flush against the shoulder.  And that's all there is to it.  Hopefully I never need to remove the ferrule from the stick because I don't believe I could get it loose without cutting it off the stick.

      And on a completely different subject, in case the messy network cabinet in the first picture on this post bothers anyone else as much as it bothers me, below is proof that I've cleaned it up.

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