Wood Carving Walking Sticks, Working with Bamboo

using bamboo for walking sticksBamboo is light-weight, easy to cut, and is available is extra-long lengths, making it perfect for walking sticks.  Because bamboo is hollow between the branch nodes, special attention is needed when attaching a wood carved cane topper.  Let’s look at a few ideas on how to make your cane construction easy when using bamboo.

1. Be careful when working with bamboo that you have harvested. Over the drying time it can develop several types of fungus, black mold, and become invested with insects. If the cane is completely black or completely white with mold dispose of it. A small amount of discoloration is normal.

2. Wash the cane with a dish washing detergent solution, rinse, and dry with a cloth. For moderately discolored cane lightly scrub with a steel wool pad.

3. Measure 1/2″ above the largest node – joint space – of your cane and cut along that line to trim the excess cane. Hold the cane upside down on a piece of coarse sand paper and sand the cut line smooth.

4. Drill a 1/4″hole into the node space.

5. Drill a 1/4″ hole into the bottom of the cane topper. Drill as deeply as your drill bit will allow. I rock my drill bit after I have made the first cuts to widen the hole slightly. This allows space inside the cane topper for both the hardwood dowel and the glue.

using bamboo for walking sticks6. The spaces between the bamboo nodes are hollow air spaces. To allow the air to escape as I add the glue and the hardwood dowel I drill a small 1/8″ hole into the side of the bamboo cane just under the side branch node.  As you add glue and insert the dowel this holes lets any trapped air out of the node space.

7. Dry test your dowel into the cane topper, mark a pencil line on the dowel at the base of the topper. Remove the dowel and cut two v-gouge lines on either side of the dowel that will go inside of the topper. This v-gouge line, just as the drilled side hole in the bamboo, allows air and excess glue to escape when the dowel is set.

8. Add glue inside of the dowel hole in the topper. I use a bamboo kitchen screwier for this job. For this cane I chose wood glue but you may also use epoxy or gorilla glue by following the directions of the label. Insert the dowel into the topper, wipe away any excess glue at the base with a damp cloth.

9. The node space for my bamboo stick is about 12″ long. If I just add glue at the top node the remainder of the dowel will be suspended unattached in that air space. To secure the bottom section of the cane dowel I fill the node space with enough glue to cover at least the lower 1″ length of the dowel. When the glue dries the bottom point of the dowel will be secure.

10. Using masking tape or painters tape clamp the cane topper tightly to the bamboo stick. Allow the glue to dry thoroughly, at least 24 hours.

11. After the glue is set remove the tape clamp and your walking stick is ready to paint.