A few CTS members attended an enjoyable and interesting day on Saturday 11th November when Trustee Les Murphy held a Stick Making Masterclass.
We spent the very wet morning scouring a local woods for suitable branches for us to convert into useful walking sticks. Les tested us on our knowledge of the different trees and explained the advantages of one wood over another and he showed us the best type of branch for us to seek out – we all collected a couple of sticks each to take back to Les’ workshop.
Back at the workshop we started to dry out in front of his wood burning stove while we scoffed the lovely bacon butties and cups of tea brewed up by Les’ brother Arthur.
One would not normally use the green wood we’d just gathered to fashion into a stick, but leave them for a few months to season. However for the purpose of this workshop they were adequate for us to learn a few basic techniques.
Les started by showing us how to straighten out any serious kinks by steaming the sticks and using his home constructed former. This is the one job that is best done while the wood is still green but they should then be left for a good while before proceeding to the next stages.
Les showed us the basic techniques for attaching a handle to the stick and we all had a go at joining a golf ball, complete with ferrule, to our sticks. A couple had brought along a deer antler and under Les’ expert guidance had soon managed to fix them to their sticks to make a very desirable and useful walking stick – only needing to be taken home and varnished and polished to their finished state.
Another couple of us had chosen sticks with a naturally formed handle, where one branch had been growing out at right angles from another. These just needed some straightening and whittling of some rough edges to achieve another pair of handsome walking sticks.
Of course, we couldn’t get to the gluing and final finishing of our sticks in just a day’s lesson but we all left with satisfying degrees of success – thanks to Les’ excellent coaching – although he was careful not to tell us too much in case we do him out of a job.
We are all looking forward to his next tutorial in country crafts which is likely to be wattle fence making so watch this space for announcements.