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How to make your own walking stick

SAFETY FIRST: Ask an adult to help with tools you haven't used before.


Walking sticks make hiking more fun. Also called hiking poles or hiking staffs, they let your arms get into the act, so you cover ground more easily. Even better, they help you keep your balance, which means that heavy pack will stay on your back instead of tumbling down some deep ravine — and maybe taking you with it! Here’s how to create your own walking stick or hiking pole.


  • A straight tree or tree branch that’s 1-1⁄2 to 2 inches thick at its big end, and 55 to 65 inches long (DO NOT CUT ANY TREE; see Step 1.)
  • A 1-inch-long piece of 3⁄4-inch diameter copper water pipe
  • Five-minute epoxy glue
  • A small saw to trim the stick to its final length
  • A sharp pocketknife
  • A spokeshave and a wood-burning tool (both optional)
  • Adult help and/or supervision


hikingpole-1Step 1: Cut your wood to length, making sure both ends are free of splits.

You can use dead, dry wood, but it’s hard to carve and makes a weak walking stick. If possible, use fresh wood; hardwood from deciduous (leafy) trees is better than evergreen softwood because it is less gummy.

To choose the right size, stand with your arms at your side and the stick should be about 6 or 8 inches taller than your elbow. Pick an even longer stick if you’ll be tackling steep terrain. If you’re really just planning on walking with your stick, a shorter one will do.

Note: Scouts never cut just any live tree! Take wood only from approved sources, such as a conservation project that thins out a timber stand or trail-building and trail-improvement projects.

Step 2: Using your pocketknife, whittle the bark from your stick, revealing the bright wood beneath. This job takes patience, especially when you are working around knots. Keep at it. You may discover your stick has an inner layer of bark, as well. Carve it away too, or your stick will darken as it dries.

Step 3: Now is the time to carve a head for your stick, if you want one. Using a pencil, draw on the nose, eyes and mouth, then slowly and carefully use the tip of your knife to bring out the details. If you rush this part of your work, you risk slipping and cutting yourself.


hikingpole-2Step 4: To protect the bottom end of your walking stick from splintering, whittle it down until the piece of copper pipe slips snugly onto it. Secure the pipe permanently with five-minute epoxy.


hikingpole-3Step 5: Your walking stick is now ready for immediate use. However, if you’d like to carve it to a smoother finish and apply a protective coat, you’ll need to let it dry indoors for about a month. Use sandpaper or a spokeshave (if you have one) to make its surface even smoother.


hikingpole-4Step 6: Optional: Add your personal mark to the walking stick using a wood-burning tool. When you have the stick carved to your satisfaction, apply a stain or other such finish and a protective coat of polyurethane.

Take your walking stick with you on all your hikes. Whenever you pick it up, the stick will remind you of your past outdoor adventures and make you wonder what excitement lies ahead.


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25 Comments on How to make your own walking stick

  1. use a coping saw to take off the branches and then sand then.

  2. cubmaster642 // July 31, 2007 at 5:44 pm // Reply

    My cub scout troop made walking sticks and they loved them, we used turkey and duck feathers from a local farm. we also carved arrow heads and used leather and laced woden beads. my troop loved this and we plan on doing one each year for our new comers.

  3. Anybody have any ideas about the best way to attach a wrist strap to the stick. I was thinking about just screwing a loop of webbing to it but would be intersted in any better ideas.

  4. Derrick, Age 10, Florida // July 26, 2007 at 12:19 pm // Reply

    I haven’t made one of these myself, but my mom’s friend gave me one that I could carve on at our school craft fair. This project looks really fun and I can’t wait to d it myself. There are plenty of trees in my backyard, so I think it’s going to be pretty easy to get a tree branch. Also, I might consider wood-burning my walking stick, because I have already done that with my dad. Awesome idea! 🙂 😉

  5. I go tenting with my family all the time and my walking sticks are just kinda picked up on the way and end up being fire wood on askadent

  6. Nintendoboy4567 // July 24, 2007 at 1:46 am // Reply

    I made a walking stick before, but I never thought of using copper to protect it from splitting.

  7. Patrol Leader // July 17, 2007 at 7:33 am // Reply

    It looks really cool I am going to try it! Hey you may never know when you will need it on a hiking trip?

  8. yeah i need this in troop

  9. That was really helpful, thanks for doing that!

  10. StarScout59 // July 4, 2007 at 8:31 pm // Reply

    We did these with our troop at Scout Camp last summer. They are totally awesome for Scoutmasters. Kids are busy! Kids are Quiet! Kids are using their knives for a worthwhile project! Who could ask for anything more!

  11. Rudi, Either somebody will come and teach you about it, as in for my Troop there was a little Session of using the hatchet. And when we went to Summer Camp they had it where they were teaching the whole Totin’ Chit, same as Fireman Chit. If nobody comes from your Troop tell your Scoutmaster, maybe he can resolve it, maybe a new volunteer to teach yall that.

  12. Our Scoutmaster brought a bunch of dried walking sticks to Summer Camp. After we earned our Totin’ Chit, we got to carve on them. It was fun.

  13. sweet!!!!!!

  14. dude i want to get my totin chip but ill probaly do it at home does anyone no how to get it (everyone says some guy will do it but he never comes to meetings

  15. (: sweet.

  16. philly eAglEs810 // June 1, 2007 at 8:26 am // Reply

    can u say how to carve a birds head too?:-)

  17. 🙂 🙂 🙂 awesome idea. neat.

  18. Please keep on showing these projects. I love them! 🙂

  19. marshmella // May 16, 2007 at 9:02 pm // Reply

    you could attach an arrowhead to it and make a spear.

  20. geocaching is when people have boxes that they hide with stuff in them like a notebook, toy cars, and little stuff like that.they get the coordinates on a GPS and put them on a website and you get your own GPS, punch in the coordinates, and go find it. it’s like a high-tech game of hide and go seek.

  21. Yo-shi, what is geocaching?

  22. Galactic Marine // May 11, 2007 at 5:14 pm // Reply

    That’s a cool project!

  23. Geocaching rules Yo-shi!!!

  24. 93 fanatic!! // May 2, 2007 at 11:03 pm // Reply

    Dude I can’t wait until I get a totin’ chip now!

  25. Hmmm….would be great for geocaching, with a Signal head on the top. Thanks BL!

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