Monday, March 12, 2018

DIY Walking Cane #3 - Third Time's a Charm

In the past few blog entries I began working on making canes.  I have my Grandfather's cane...


...but I am reluctant to ever really use it.  It would break my heart if I somehow broke or damaged his cane.  My first attempt at making my own cane started with some scrap Oak wood.


This cane turned out alright, but I wouldn't trust it to support any weight.  Being that the joint between the handle and the shaft bears the burden of the most pressure, I couldn't rely on the simple screw and extra glued-on wood I have set inside to last very long.

So my second attempts involved layering thin plywood and glue in a criss-cross fashion, creating a very strong joint between the handle and the shaft.  These canes are exceptionally strong - especially for plywood.


But I would still prefer hardwood.  I had just barely enough leftover Oak wood for one more cane.
Like my first cane, this will be made up of leftover strips glued together...


...to make a shaft and a handle.  Also like the first cane, a screw will attach the 2 pieces.


This time I'll use a better method for attaching the 2 pieces.


Then like the second canes I built, I layer some wood over the joint.


This will strengthen the joint.


I had initially decided not to take photos when I started this new cane, as I thought it would not come together well.  But when the handle and shaft were glued together I saw how strong this new cane was, so I resumed photography.  

The handle is 2 three-quarter inch thick pieces laminated together.


and the shaft and handle are connected with the same double screw that I initially tried to connect the first cane together with.


This time after drilling the holes in the handle and shaft I used my die and tap set to make a track for the screw to be driven in.  And then I used some epoxy to assemble the 2 pieces.


Then I let it dry overnight.


Aside from the handle and shaft being assembled, nothing else had been done yet.  Here you can see the thin Oak strip in between the other pieces of oak.


After that, I used my table saw to etch away some material at the joint of the handle and shaft, and then glued and tightly clamped 2 thin pieces of Oak to each side.  So now the joint between the handle and shaft is held with a long screw, epoxy, more wood and glue.  After gluing everything up I let it dry fully overnight once again.


For the parts of the shaft that comprised of separate pieces glued together, I strengthened the areas by drilling holes and gluing in some dowels to hold it all in place.  This too was left to dry overnight to ensure a strong bond.


After everything was dry, I repeated the same steps from the other 3 canes I made - a lot of sanding, minimal wood filler, rounding all the edges, and a lot more sanding.  I also sanded a taper towards the bottom to fit the last rubber cap I had.


I also drilled a small hole on the bottom of the shaft and attached a hook so I can hang the cane upside down to dry.  Instead of staining this cane a very dark color (like the other 3 canes), I opted to stain this cane a Red Mahogany color.


This color stain makes the dowels and the boards at the joint more visible - but I think it's okay since I did a considerably nicer job on this cane (not much wood filler, and all the same wood).


Once the stain was dry I sprayed on some clear coat to seal up the cane better before applying glossy polyurethane.


The final outcome is a very nice and very strong cane.


It's hard being only 40 years old and having to use a cane, but at least I have a nice looking cane to use.


Actually I now have 5 canes I could use...


 ...no, not really.  I learned that the correct height for a cane is where your wrists are when down against your hips.  The first cane I made and this last one are the only ones that are the right height for me.  My Grandfather's cane is too high and the 2 plywood canes are too short.  Hopefully my back will be better soon and I won't need a cane at all.  In any case these were fun projects to work on.  Once I have some money to play with I'll buy some nicer hardwoods like walnut and maple woods to make my ultimate cane.  Till then, this latest cane will do nicely.

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