Monday, March 19, 2018

DIY Walking Cane #4 - The Simple Cane

So far I've made 4 canes - all out of scrap material I had in my workshop.


The third cane I made is the best.  It looks and feels the nicest and it seems to be the strongest.


Aside from Polyurethane and some rubber caps, I haven't bought any material to make these canes.  But for my next cane I will have to buy stuff.  Namely, an 1" diameter Oak dowel, a small 1x4 Oak board...


...and a 1/2" metal plumbing coupling.


This is going to be a straight-forward cane build, and should have been the first cane I made since it seems to be the simplest of all. 


 The handle will connect to the coupling which will also connect to the shaft.  I started by cutting 2 pieces from the Oak board...


...and glued and clamped them together.  These pieces will make the handle.  I let the glue dry overnight.


For the coupling to fit onto the dowel, I will need to remove some material.


I already tested with a smaller diameter (1/2") dowel that the coupling can cut grooves into the wood.


This will make it easy to attach the dowel and handle.


So to make the Oak dowel smaller on one end to fit the coupling, I am going to use my table saw and sled.


The blade is only protruding from the top of the sled by about 1/8".


Then I turned the saw on and rolled the dowel over the blade, spinning the dowel, to remove an even amount of wood on all sides.


I did this for a while and each time I would test the fit in the coupling - which was held in my table vise.


The coupling would slip a lot in the table vise, so I moved it to my metal vise for a better hold.


I repeated the process of sawing and screwing until the fit was perfect.


The wood goes half way through the coupling and easily screws on and off.


Now it's time to work on the cane's handle. I removed the clamps and drew in the shape of the handle.


The I cut out the shape on the band saw.


I refined the shape with my disc sander...


...and belt sander.


Unfortunately I forgot to trim the wood handle to it's proper width of 1".  I made this same mistake with one of my earlier canes, and so I had to trim off both sides of the handle carefully on the table saw.


Then more sanding to remove the cut marks.


I also refined the curves with a drum sanding bit on my drill press.


Then it was time to round the edges of the handle on the router table.


Because I have a healthy fear of the router, I took my time routing the small handle.  This left a good amount of burn marks, which I started sanding away with some sandpaper.


Now it was time to make the handle fit the metal coupling.  Unfortunately I can't do it the same way as I did the shaft.  So I used a saw to cut the material away.



After sawing I used a file to refine the shape.


Then back into the metal vise to screw in the handle.


Like the cane's shaft, this took a little back-and-forth to get the fit right.


With both the handle and the shaft fitting correctly, I could assemble the cane.


Not too bad, but not done yet.


In order to make this joint very strong I decided I wanted a bolt to run through both pieces of wood.


I started with a small drill bit and drilled a hole in the center of both pieces.


Then I would insert a slightly larger drill bit into my drill and make the holes larger until it fit the rod that will connect the 2 pieces.


Later these 2 pieces will be glued in place with some epoxy...


...and also have the metal coupling attached with epoxy.  I'm hoping this will make a very strong joint.


I mixed some epoxy and screwed the bolt to the shaft, and then the coupling to the shaft - everything covered with a lot of epoxy.


Then I began to screw on the handle when SNAP!


The piece of the handle that screwed into the coupling completely broke off.


This upset me a lot, but I didn't have time to mope about it.  I quickly removed the bolt and coupling from the shaft.  I can't use the coupling anymore since all the teeth inside are covered in epoxy.  But I can still salvage this thing.  When the epoxy dried I trimmed the handle and shaft.  


There's still the hole I drilled earlier in both pieces.  I drilled a little farther in both and mixed more epoxy to connect the 2 pieces with another bolt.


Then I clamped it all together and let dry for several hours.


What I think I'll do next is to fortify the joint of the handle and shaft similarly to what I did with my 3rd cane, seen below.


I can cut some material away from the joint area and glue in some thin strips of my leftover Oak.


So when the epoxy dried I removed the clamp and set up the table saw sled to remove some material.


I cut away a deep enough area on both sides to fit in some extra wood.


Then I sanded those areas smooth with one of my home made sanding sticks.


I then used the 2 cut-off pieces from the handle and sized them to fit.


I glued them in placed and clamped them tightly and let dry for a few hours.


Once dry I began trimming the pieces of wood on the band saw.


I set my band saw's table at 45 degrees...


...to better trim around the rounded shape of the cane.


Then I sanded the edges flush with the sanding drum on my drill press.  I lowered the drill press table so I can better round those edges.


I also used the miter saw to shorten the cane to be at the right height for me to use.


Next came a lot of sanding and filing to get those pieces of wood flush that were added to the joint.


To make the taper on the bottom of the cane fit one of those rubber caps, I used a hand plane to slice away some wood...


...and then smoothed it out on the belt sander.


And now the rubber cap fits.


I then removed the cap and drilled a small hole on the bottom of the cane.


Then a small hook is screwed in.


This hook allows me to hang the cane upside-down.  This is useful when the cane needs to dry after staining or polyurethane.


At this point the handle is well shaped, but has some imperfections.  I added some wood filler to the handle to fill those imperfections.


Then I hung the cane up to let the wood filler dry.


When dry I used a damp rag to remove most of the filler and smooth everything out.


Then I spent a lot of time sanding the entire cane.  150, 220 and 500 grit sandpaper were used.  Then I used a clean damp rap to clean up the whole cane.


 I really like the color of my 3rd cane, so I decided to stain this one the same color - red mahogany.


I applied a nice thick coat and hung the cane for about 15 minutes so the stain can penetrate the wood nicely.


After 15 minutes I wiped off the excess stain.


The shaft is a nice color, but a little light compared to the handle.


The handle is definitely darker and redder.


I used some lacquer thinner to try and even out the color - which did kind of work, but it also brought out some splotches.


So I then decided to add a coat of a darker stain - Jacobean.


This made the cane a little darker, and uniform in color which pleased me.


I then let the cane dry overnight.


The next morning everything had dried.  Instead of using polyurethane or furniture wax, I opted to use glossy clear coat for this cane.


Once again, hanging the cane made for easy application on all sides.


I gave the cane several coats, giving each coat about an hour to fully dry before applying the next coat.  When the clear coat was fully dry I lightly sanded and cleaned it.


The finished cane came out nicely.


I really like how the wood grain looks on the handle.



Below is cane #4 (left) alongside cane #3 (right).


These two are the strongest canes I've made so far.


...but believe it or not, I have one more in store.

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