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Walking Sticks

Discussion in 'Woodturning Discussion Forum' started by William Rogers, Sep 1, 2020.

  1. William Rogers

    William Rogers

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    A friend want me to make her a walking stick. The overall size would be 55”. I would turn as two pieces with a coupler. I am going to use ash about 2 1/4 square blanks around 30” in length. My question is regarding wiping. What speed and should I use a steady rest in the middle?
     
  2. sjbrandt

    sjbrandt

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    I make a lot of stool legs from blanks of that size in hard maple. I don’t use a steady rest. I use my left hand to apply light pressure from the back of the workpiece in proportion to the pressure of the cutting edge. I start with a spindle roughing gouge and then switch to a continental-style spindle gouge as the workpiece loses mass. And obviously, a light touch. It also helps to work the middle first and then do the two ends last.
     
  3. R Henrickson

    R Henrickson

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    I've turned baseball bats, stool legs, and chair pieces. As sjbrandt said, after roughing, begin in the middle. I then work toward the tailstock, then from the middle back toward the headstock. This particularly useful if there are thin parts of the profile in the central portion of the spindle. I don't use a steady, just my left hand when necessary and adjusting the speed. Most of the spindles I turn have profiles which make using a steady difficult or impossible, such as spindles which start with rectangular cross sections and may never have any fully rounded areas. I prefer to hold the headstock end of the spindle with a chuck rather than between centers; it is essential if the cross section is rectangular. The chuck provides a much more solid anchor and somewhat less tendency toward vibration or whipping. If you are concerned about catches, perhaps use a safety driver or steb center and turn between centers. I tend to use a roughing gouge to start smaller diameter spindles, and often a bowl or continental gouge for larger diameters. For actual shaping I use either detail gouges or skews. As for speed, it is a spindle and small diameter compared to a bowl, so relatively fast. There is no magic number -- it depends on the wood, its length and diameter, your lathe, etc. Adjust the speed depending on the quality of cut, vibration, etc. Roughing may well require a slower speed than final shaping. I can't give specific numbers since so many factors are involved (and my lathe doesn't have a speed readout -- I don't miss it). I adjust the speed to cope with the behavior of the wood and the stage of the project, so I may change the speed a number of times for one spindle.
     
  4. William Rogers

    William Rogers

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    Thanks guys for the quick responses. Gaining confidence. I planned on using my O’Donnell jaws on my chuck to secure the piece at the headstock. I can grip a goo 1” to 1 1/4” with those jaws and should still be able to turn a 30” long spindle. I don’t have a speed readout either and don’t miss having a readout.
     
  5. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    Same as @sjbrandt and @R Henrickson.

    too much tailstock pressure will cause the spindle to bend and whip.

    if you haven’t mastered the skew a pull cut with a side ground gouge will come close in smoothness.
     
  6. Larry Parker

    Larry Parker

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    I made a cane recently out of Gaboon Ebony, the blank was 32” long. Ebony is pretty stiff but wish I had a steady rest as it still gets vibration. But I did as Sjbrandt suggested and it came out nice. I don’t know how ash would be to turn that long.
     

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  7. Dean Center

    Dean Center

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    William,
    If you're going to apply pressure to the 'back' of the spindle to balance the pressure of the gouge or skew, get those long sleeves off and out of harms way!
     
  8. William Rogers

    William Rogers

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    I was cleaning the shop yesterday and I made a 2 wheel bowl rest a long time ago that I’m going to try. It’s way too hot here for long sleeves anyway.
     
  9. Randy Anderson

    Randy Anderson

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    I've been interested in making a walking stick or cane for some time now with some rough stock I have in the corner so glad to see this post. Mostly tree limb pieces that just look like they would make a good walking stick. No idea if they will. I have a Jet 1642 so could turn something fairly long and make a cane but not long enough for a single piece true long style walking stick. I have a home made steady rest that works very well so OK there. I do very little spindle work and don't consider myself very good at it. I gave up on learning the skew so rely on my spindle gouge and take my time.

    William - how would you fashion a coupler? Is there an "optimum" dia for a walking stick? Might even try to make some sort of Gandalf wizard type stuff that might sell. Sounds interesting.
     
  10. William Rogers

    William Rogers

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    Randy I’m new also but I intend to buy a coupled specific for walking sticks. Craft Supply has them and guessing many others. Just started that research.
     
  11. Larry Parker

    Larry Parker

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    Good point!
     
  12. Don Wattenhofer

    Don Wattenhofer

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    It is possible to turn a full length WS on a lathe that is too short.
    1. Cut the blank from straight grained material.
    2. Accurately square up the blank.
    3. Make a square to round adaptor.
    4. Hold the end in your 4 jaw scroll chuck.
    5. Support the other end at a little more the half the length with the adapter and a steady rest.
    6. Turn the first half.
    7. Remount the blank with the unfinished end clamped in the chuck and the steady rest supporting the turned portion.
    8. Complete the turning.
    9. IMG_20200904_091953.jpg
     
  13. Larry Parker

    Larry Parker

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    Walkingcaneco.com is a good place to buy cane and walking stick supplies
     
  14. Bob Sheppard

    Bob Sheppard

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    I have the 20" bed extension for my Jet 1642, so I can turn something around 5' long. And I have. A walking stick is an interesting idea that I'm going to have to try.
     
  15. Richard Coers

    Richard Coers

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    2 1/4" blanks are huge! You don't want to wear someone out carrying the walking stick. I wouldn't want any part of it to me more than 1 1/2" diameter, and taper down from there. I thought I was a pretty accomplished wood turner, but when our club did that eagle cane project I found I couldn't turn a cane without whipping. You guys must be better than me. I got it done, but to make production I used a little Porter Cable belt sander to clean it up the long taper and remove the whip chatter.
     

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