Having cut some suitable walking sticks, trimmed off any side shoots (not right back to the base at this stage), bundled them carefully and got them safely home, they must be seasoned. A typical (25mm) thick shank walking sticks cut during the winter will need to be left to season for about 12 months. Walking canes which has been cut at any other time of the year will need at least another three months, and even then there is a chance that the cut ends of the stick will split. Walking Sticks which has been cut with a section of branch or root attached (from which a handle can be formed) may, according to the size of the block, need up to two years to season properly. To reduce the risk of splits, the ends of the block should be sealed with a couple of coats of clear varnish or knotting liquid.
Before you tie up your walking sticks for storing, give them a coat of woodworm oil, then tie them, top and bottom, in bundles of five or six and put them in an airy shed (an open-sided lean-to is ideal; a heated workshop is too warm). Walking Sticks makers are divided as to whether bundles should be laid on the ground or stacked vertically; best of all, I believe, is to suspend the bundles from roof beams. This lets the air get to them, avoids any risk of the walking sticks and canes bending and prevents any ground damp from affecting them.
Rather like home-made wine, there is the temptation to try the walking canes before it is ready. DON’T! If you start work too soon, you will risk ruining all that you have achieved so far. Instead, be content that you have now stored in your shed a sufficient supply of material to see you through next year’s winter months,
A year has gone by and the day for you to untie your walking sticks and start some serious stickmaking arrives. Take another good look at your collection and if you are in any way dissatisfied with one, discard it or give it to someone else. Don’t waste your time trying to make a good walking stick out of a bad one — life’s too short!