Last Updated on June 20, 2023 by Barry Gray
A walking stick is far more refined than people realize, and that refined nature extends all the way to the type of wood used in its construction. Generally, wood such as oak, hazel, beech, ash, chestnut and maple can all work well, but there’s more to it all than just selecting the wood.
If you thought that any old type of wood would suffice for this type of thing, then you would be wrong. Actually, only certain types of wood have the ability to withstand the pressure often placed on the walking stick and to do so without splitting and probably causing an injury.
But I know that by getting you to think about it, it has now opened up a question. Just what wood should you use with a walking stick?
Well, thankfully, we are not limited to just one type. Instead, several kinds of wood can be used for this very item, and I’m going to take you through six of the best.
But I won’t simply tell you that a particular wood is suitable for a walking stick. I will also tell you more about why it’s such a good choice. As a result, you may even start to view certain types of wood differently and see how they may be used in other projects where you require the same sort of strength to get the result you want.
But how can I talk about this? Well, I’ve worked with all types of wood over the years, so I have a good understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of each. As a result, I know what to expect from wood, and with something as important as a walking stick, that’s critical knowledge to have at my disposal.
But don’t worry, I’m going to share that information with you over the course of the next few minutes.
Why Being Careful with Choosing the Correct Wood is Important
I think it’s important to understand why choosing the correct wood when it comes to a walking stick is key.
The wood you use must be robust. It may have to cope with having a significant amount of weight and pressure being applied to it, and you don’t want the wood to even run the risk of breaking. Some wood just works better with that type of pressure, and the funny thing is that it’s not always the type of wood you expect.
Take fir, as a perfect example.
You may have used fir for structural reasons as you know it’s sturdy and robust, and yet it’s just not a wood species people tend to look at when it comes to a walking stick. This is because fir, believe it or not, can splinter more easily than people realize. So, best to stay away from it.
And that is why you need to take some care and not just use any old wood when it comes to a walking stick. You may think that all wood is the same, but that’s not the case.
So, let’s get on with checking out the different woods.
The first type of wood I want to mention is beech, and it has been one of the most popular materials for walking sticks for quite some time. The reason why it’s so popular is simply that it’s hard-wearing and robust, with those being two pretty important things to look out for when making a walking stick.
But beech is also capable of looking attractive as well. The natural grain can come across as quite interesting, which all leads to a walking stick that looks a bit more than simply a stick made of wood. Also, it’s very easy to purchase this wood and you should be able to do so with ease.
Yet a walking stick manufacturer can also take things to a whole new level regarding beech. Often, you will see them scorching the outside of the wood to change its appearance. That will make the wood darker before finishing with a protective coating to ensure the wood does not tarnish while also being waterproof at the same time.
But this process of scorching the wood also has the added benefit of really managing to bring the grain and hue of the wood out to full effect. Don’t worry about this scorching process affecting the integrity of the wood either. It’s only on the surface, and the wood remains strong and robust even when put under immense pressure.
Why I Would Choose Beech
I feel that beech strikes this balance between looking good, and also being highly practical as a wood. I would select it due to the fact it is very robust, and it will also then cope with heavy use over an extended period of time. Add in the fact that beech is not the heaviest of woods around, and it basically means you don’t feel as tired when using it compared to other wood species.
The Pros of Using Beech
- It’s robust, but it doesn’t come across as being too heavy
- You feel confident in using the wood
- It copes well with pressure
- It has an attractive grain, which is perfect for a walking stick
I’m going to take a guess here and say that some people reading this would have selected hazel as an excellent material for a walking stick, even if they are unsure why that would be the case. Well, if you guessed this type of wood, then you would be correct to do so. It has been one of the most popular choices for a long time.
I think hazel is one of the coolest woods to use in this instance. The patterns the wood can naturally have are astonishing, and so too is the array of colors that can pop up in the wood. Also, when the wood has been polished, all those colors really come to the fore, and it’s almost as if the walking stick springs to life.
But hazel is also lightweight as a material, and that makes sense with a walking stick. You don’t want to feel as if you are carrying a massive piece of wood around with you, as that’s pretty tiring. Thankfully, hazel isn’t like that. Also, you feel as if you can effectively carve this wood into whatever you want.
Instead, with hazel, it doesn’t lead to a walking stick that feels cumbersome in your hand. Yet, it still has the necessary strength in the wood to ensure it doesn’t just buckle and collapse when any pressure is applied to it.
But hazel is also durable as a wood, and you will also find it to be easy to carve designs into it if you want to do so. Basically, if you desire to make a walking stick that is far more decorative, then hazel could be the perfect wood.
Why I Would Choose Hazel
I have several reasons why I would choose hazel when it comes to a walking stick. It is lightweight, and yet it’s amazingly strong. This does surprise people, as the two shouldn’t really go together, but they do.
Also, it’s just an attractive wood and can certainly come with some gorgeous grain that gives the walking stick a great deal of character. In addition, hazel has been used as a walking stick for centuries, so if it has remained as popular as that for such a long time, then there must be something good about it.
The Pros of Using Hazel
- The grain is one of the best around for a walking stick
- It’s very light, and yet extremely strong
- It has been popular for centuries as a walking cane or stick
- When polished, it looks even better
Ash is another type of wood I would feel confident recommending when it comes to a walking stick. I love this wood in general because it does give you some real strength, and yet there’s a flexibility about it as well.
But ash does also have a gorgeous grain to check out. It’s lighter in color compared to other options, and the grain is one of the key parts that lead to the wood having as much strength.
Yet if you are planning on producing your own walking sticks, then you should also know that ash is exceptionally easy to work with when making this item. It sands well, and you should also find that it’s easy to shape. This comes as a bit of a surprise because the wood is so dense, and it initially seems heavy, but that somehow vanishes when you get into actually working with it.
I should also say that I’m talking about ash in general. I know you get slightly different versions, such as green ash or white ash, but you should find there to be little in the way of differences when it comes to working with it for a walking stick.
Why I Would Choose Ash
For me, it’s the ease with which you can manipulate and work with ash that makes it stand out. It does give you that lighter color, so if you want a darker walking stick, then avoid ash at all costs.
Also, don’t allow yourself to be fooled by the initial weight. I promise that when you get it all shaped as you want, then ash will not take up too much of your energy as the amount of wood you require for a walking stick does mean it really doesn’t weigh too much.
The Pros of Using Ash
- It feels exceptionally sturdy, but also slightly heavy
- It’s very easy to work with
- The strength of the wood is amazing
- It’s perfect if you prefer a lighter color walking stick
If you plan on producing a walking stick that is still sturdy but also lighter, then chestnut is the perfect wood. This is thanks to its density being lower, and yet it still results in something of a more rustic walking stick thanks to the nature of the wood itself.
There’s a robustness about chestnut, while it’s also a very attractive wood to use for this purpose. The way the grain flows, and also how the wood polishes up, does make a huge difference.
But also, chestnut is undoubtedly durable as a block of wood, and that also helps make it a perfect choice when it comes to a walking stick. I also find chestnut to be easy to work with, so creating your own walking stick in your workshop should not prove problematic.
Actually, one thing you will quickly discover if you go ahead and use chestnut when making a walking stick is the way it sands down. It’s exceptionally easy to manipulate the wood the way you want, which means you can sand everything down to create the perfect walking stick with relative ease.
Why I Would Choose Chestnut
Chestnut is a gorgeous wood, and if you want a walking stick that will stand out, then this is the kind of wood you need to use. Also, I love how it sands down, so you can get an ultra-smooth walking stick with little work, and that’s a cool thing in my book.
Don’t forget that it comes across as quite rustic and natural, which gives your walking stick a particular style.
The Pros of Using Chestnut
- It has a very rustic feel and appearance to it
- It comes with an ultra-smooth finish
- It’s a highly durable wood, so can contend with a lot
- It doesn’t feel too heavy
Maple is a fantastic wood in general, and it can also be used to produce some pretty cool walking sticks. It has a high enough hardness rating to ensure it won’t simply snap under very little pressure, and that’s clearly a pivotal point to consider.
But one thing I do love about maple is the fact that it’s still lightweight compared to other types of wood with a similar hardness rating. That does make it an excellent option for walking sticks since you don’t feel as if you are really carrying anything around with you.
In addition, I love the grain that comes with maple wood. When polished up, it leads to a stunning looking walking stick that really does allow the grain to come to the fore from the perspective of it being attractive to look at.
But I also appreciate that maple is tough and won’t wear down over time unless with some serious usage. Plus, it’s pretty resistant to water already, even though you can add more protection, so this wood should not break down and compromise the safety aspect when it comes to using a walking stick.
Why I Would Choose Maple
For me, it’s the toughness of maple that stands out. If you know you will be using your walking stick for some considerable period, then maple won’t let you down. It’s capable of withstanding a lot of punishment, so it could be a good walking stick for going on trails.
But even though it’s very tough, it’s still not heavy. That means it does strike the balance between durability and weight, which is a great thing for a walking stick.
The Pros of Using Maple
- It’s a very tough wood
- It has a perfect balance between being durable and also not too heavy
- It can cope with a lot of punishment
- It looks stunning after polishing
If you are looking at producing a heavier walking stick, then a wood such as oak can certainly work well. However, general walking stick manufacturers will tend to look past oak simply because of the weight. Yet, if that’s not an issue for you, then it’s something you may wish to consider.
But even though oak is heavy, it’s not the hardest of woods that I’ve mentioned above. Also, even hand tools can be used to shape and work with oak, so no need to have anything special going on.
Yet, people love oak because it’s durable and doesn’t wear down that easily. It means you feel as if an oak walking stick will last for an extended time before you see that it’s looking past its best.
Also, the grain pattern you can get with oak may look pretty attractive, and that’s something people always look for when choosing a walking stick. The tight grain works well in this instance, but you do need to saw it at an angle that then releases the grain and its pattern.
Finally, oak is very easy to both polish and stain to give it a beautiful finish. With just a little work, you can turn a plain piece of oak into something wholly transformed, and the fact the walking stick is then highly functional is only an added bonus.
Why I Would Choose Oak
Everyone knows that oak is a solid kind of wood, and it’s just not going to bend or buckle under pressure. It may not be the easiest of woods to get to the correct shape, but you will certainly have no issue in polishing it up to get it looking great.
But I would choose it because it will last for some time. Also, people just have that confidence in the quality of the wood, and having confidence in your walking stick is a huge deal.
The Pros of Using Oak
- It won’t struggle when put under pressure
- It’s highly durable and will last a long time
- It’s tough to shape, but worth it in the end
- It’s perfect for people who prefer a heavier walking stick
How to Choose the Right Wood for a Walking Stick
The six types of wood I’ve mentioned above are all fantastic when it comes to making a walking stick, but they are not the only six you could choose from. However, I do believe that the perfect wood is on that list.
But that does then open up another question, and that’s how you go ahead and choose the wood that you want to use when making a walking stick. For me, I see there being several key points that I would contemplate before I would then go ahead and start working on the project in my workshop.
A key area is clearly the strength of the wood. You don’t want to use something soft that struggles to cope with repeated pressure being applied to it. Any wood with the potential to buckle under pressure, especially when you are talking about only a thin piece of wood, is more likely to lead to snapping or cracking, leading to possible injury.
All of the woods I’ve listed above score more than 1000 on the Janka rating, and I would take that as your benchmark.
Alongside strength, you have durability. This also plays an integral role when choosing the type of wood you wish to use to make a walking stick. You want to use wood that can cope with pressure and repeated use without weakening. You need the wood to be capable of withstanding knocks, bumps, being dropped to the floor, and everything else without it being compromised.
Durability and being hard-wearing go hand in hand with this. Each of the six options I’ve listed above are known for being durable when it comes to a walking stick, so you don’t have to worry about this aspect if you stick with one of the options I’ve mentioned.
The grain not only delivers a lot of strength to the wood, but it also then relates to how attractive the walking stick will be when finished.
You want to cut with the grain to take advantage of the strength it gives to the wood. Also, the species I’ve mentioned do come with some attractive grain, and that’s going to add to the overall beauty of the walking stick.
Ease of Shaping and Sanding
If you have been working with wood for some time, then you should already know that some species just don’t work well when it comes to sanding. Wood such as ebony, for example, can be worked on, but it does take more time and a lot more effort to get something resembling the type of end result you were probably looking for.
That is something you do not want when wishing to produce a walking stick. You need the wood to be easy to sand down, allowing you to get a smooth finish. You just do not want any shards of wood sticking up when someone will be handling the stick with their bare hands. That part would not make sense, and it could lead to injuries.
I would always opt for a wood that polishes up well and where you can easily apply a stain or protective coating over the top to further enhance its water-resistant properties. There’s a reason why some woods are best kept for structural projects, and it’s often because they just do not look too good as a finishing wood.
Considering the walking stick will be on show on a constant basis, it makes sense to only go for those woods that effectively “shine up” well. It just changes things from a visual perspective and results in a far superior looking walking stick.
But even though choosing the wood is clearly important, nothing is more important than ensuring the walking stick is measured to the correct height. There are guides online that can help you with that, and it’s then up to you to get to work shaping the wood into your desired shape.
I feel that as long as you take these different points into consideration when selecting a wood, then there should be no real problems.
So those are six of the best woods for a walking stick, and as you can see, I do have quite a variety here. Yet, when you look more closely, you will see that they tend to share some characteristics with one another, which all leads to them being the best wood for the job.
But you need to think about more than just the wood you plan on using. So, these articles may help you get to grips with how to proceed with this particular project.