How to Make a Walking Stick or Cane

Learn How to Build Your own Cane or Walking Stick

A walking stick or cane is a great thing to have because it gives you assistance, stability and safety when hiking, or enjoying a walk. It's perfect to take in the woods so you can navigate obstructions and use it for other tasks.

You don't have to buy a nice new walking stick or cane—you can make one yourself. Making a walking stick is actually fairly simple, and it's a good project for a young person with basic wood-working skills. It's not only thrifty, it gives them a feeling of accomplishment.

Learn how to make a walking stick out of wood or materials you might have in your garage gives you a skill you'll have for the rest of your life. Plus, you get all the benefits a walking stick offers whenever you need one.

1. Choose your Walking Stick Material

Selecting the right material to make a walking stick is one of the most important steps. Find a durable, relatively straight length of wood or branch that can handle extended use. A hardwood like maple, walnut, birch or ash is a great choice. The harder the wood the better.

The branch or wood should be straight but if it has a few bumps and twists this is fine, it gives the walking stick a unique character. The authentic Blackthorn Shillelagh walking sticks have this very same look. Just be sure to avoid anything that looks rotted, has holes or appears to be weak.

2. Cut the Walking Stick to Size

Measure the walking stick and cut it to size for a custo fit.

  • Start by cutting the branch or material at the bottom where you want the point to be.
  • Stand the walking stick on the point and in your hiking boots or whatever you will be walking in, grasp the walking stick comfortably with your arm bent at about a 90-degree angle.
  • Cut the stick about an inch or so above the top of your hand to make a suitable knob of whatever size you desire, usually 2-4 inches is ideal.

You can also use a broom stick to measure someone else without the walking stick material present.

  • Measure the distance from the ground to the top of your hand, leaving room for a top knob if desired.
  • Then cut the material to the length you measured.

3. Remove Branches and Bark

Cut away the branches with your knife or a small saw. Then shave off the smaller branches and scrape off the bark with a knife. Remove any other excess material from the surface of the walking stick with a scraping tool until it is relatively smooth and consistent.

Note, you can use a simple knife, or a power tool to remove the material. A dremmel also works well.

4. Cure or Dry the Wood

Let the wood cure or dry. Simply let it hang or lay on a rack in a humidity controlled area like an interior room or closet. This drying period lets the wood harden. Note if you are using a wood dowel you purchased, you won't need to let it dry.

5. Sand Your Walking Stick

Sand the surface of the walking stick to make it smoother.

  • Start sanding with coarser 50 or 100 grit sandpaper. Sand the entire surface and wipe away the saw dust.
  • Sand again using a smaller grain paper like 200 grit.
  • Sand the surface untill you reach your desired texture using higher grit sand paper for smoother textures.

6. Stain and Seal the Walking Stick

If you want to enhance the color, add a natural or colored stain to your walking stick.

  • Clean the surface of the walking stick
  • Layer on stain with a stain brush and let the staff dry over night.
  • Sand as needed with 200 grit sand paper. Re-stain and sand to get the color you desire and let completely dry.
  • Apply wood sealer to the surface to protect your walking stick. Use sealer from the hardware store and follow their instructions. Apply a coat, sand smooth and then reapply sealant. Each time let the sealant dry over night.

7. Add a Grip to your Walking Stick

To add a grip to your walking stick wrap a soft but grippy material around the handle area. You can use tennis grip tape, a thin cord or rope, or a strip of leather as a wrap.

  • First, place your hand comfortably on the walking stick where you will be gripping it.
  • Then mark the top and bottom of you hand. Make the grip at least this large, and larger if you prefer to adjust your grip as walking.
  • Start by securing the grip tape, leather or rope in place at the the top of the handle with small nail or staple.
  • Apply glue on the handle area for a more secure handle.
  • Then wrap the material around the handle. If using leather or grip tape, overlap each wrap by about a quarter inch. If you use cord or rope, make sure each wrap is snug up against the previous wrap.
  • Tack or staple the material in place to secure it again at the bottom of the handle.

8. Place a Cap on the End

The final step is to put a rubber cane tip on the end of your walking stick. You can buy cane tips to fit your stick's tip. Apply one with glue and make sure it is snug on the end. You can also use tape or another material to protect the end of the stick. The tip requires the most protection since it is constantly coming in contact with the ground.