Woodburned Walking Staffs and Canes by Artist Terri Paulk Gallery Schedule Request About Terri Cartersville, GA 30120
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The Process

From start to finish, the process of making a walking staff or cane involves anywhere from 7-10 hours. I enjoy going out in the woods and looking for that branch that will make just the right cane. I have a small saw I carry with me and sometimes will spend 2-3 hours gathering wood I know will be appropriate for making my creations. If the sap is up when I cut the wood it makes it really easy to remove the bark off of a piece of poplar. It usually peels off without too much trouble.

A great blessing is that I have friends who bring me wood all the time just because they know what I make with them.

I use an old timey “Shaving Horse” that I have affectionately named “Trigger” to remove the bark from the wood once I get it home. The Shaving horse is straddled like riding a horse and works from a foot pedal that holds the wood down so I can use my draw knife to cut the bark from the cane or staff. There aren’t too many of these old tools around anymore, so it makes my craft a little unique.

Once the bark is removed I usually sand the staff down if the wood is not still wet. If it is wet, I leave it for a couple of weeks to dry out. I use 60 grit sand paper, then 100 grit, and finally 220 grit, to get a really smooth finish.

Next I drill a hole in the end of the staff about 3-4 inches from the top. This will be used to put a piece of leather strapping for a handle.

Woodburning As you can see, there is a lot of preparation work before I even get to the wood burning part. This of course is my favorite part. I do all of the woodburning free hand. All of the hymns are musically correct. I usually spend anywhere from 3-5 hours in wood burning alone. I know I must sing the hymn over and over a hundred times before I am finished. It is such a blessing and becomes such a part of me to think about how good God is and how He loves us. What a treasure we have in old hymns! I always pray for whoever gets the cane or staff I am working on. I pray that God will touch their lives and make Himself known to them in a very personal way.

Next I will put 4-5 coats of an acrylic sealer on the staff or cane, allowing drying between each coat. After it is thoroughly dry, I put a piece of leather strip in the hole that was drilled.

Kinds of wood used

  • Dogwood
  • Cedar
  • Cherry
  • Gum
  • Hickory
  • Oak
  • Poplar
  • Sassafras
  • Sourwood
  • Various Others

A light colored wood always shows off the work at its best, bringing out more of the detail and fine textures. Pine can be used but tends to be very grainy so you can't get much detail. Oak is light colored but very hard and sometimes refuses to burn at all. Sycamore is easy to use because there isn't much difference in hardness between the grain. This makes it easier to burn.