Author Topic: What are some good wood options for walking stick?  (Read 827 times)

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Offline Punty

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What are some good wood options for walking stick?
« on: July 20, 2018, 09:12:32 AM »
  So, I have to do some clearing next weekend in Maine, saplings and shrubs. I figure I should keep an eye out for a sapling that will make a good walking stick...something that will be sturdy once dried.

  The woods will be in the Maine mountains...so your talking poplars, maples, oaks, birch, firs, spruce...that kind of thing.  I'm not sure what I should be keeping an eye out for that will make a good, strong walking stick out of a wrist thick or less sapling.

   I plan on making it a kind of long term project...dry it, make some black walnut stain to stain it, do some burning designs and cordage wraps....but I don't want to get off on the wrong foot by choosing a sapling that is the right size and shape, but proves to be a terrible choice of wood.

  Any suggestions would be helpful.
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Online imnukensc

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Re: What are some good wood options for walking stick?
« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2018, 09:26:50 AM »
Hickory, oak, maple, ash, elm-------pretty much any of them will make a good walking/hiking stick.
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Offline wsdstan

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Re: What are some good wood options for walking stick?
« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2018, 10:19:27 AM »
Echo what Nuke said.  Hickory is on top of my list, especially if you want a shillelagh.  I have Ash on my farm but none of the others.  Our oak is scrub and seldom approaches the length you would want to use.
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Offline Punty

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Re: What are some good wood options for walking stick?
« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2018, 10:30:29 AM »
  Thanks.

  There's lots of Ash in my area...the western mountains...but I don't recall seeing much hickory. I'll have to keep an eye out.

  I was kind of thinking that woods used for broomhandles and axe handles is ideal....but I really wasn't sure if it matters how mature the wood is. I'm not carving a stick out of a tree, I am making a stick out of a sapling, so I thought maybe some hard woods may not be good until reaching a certain maturity.
If the iron be blunt, and he do not whet the edge, then must he put to more strength: but wisdom is profitable to direct.
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Offline Quickdraw

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Re: What are some good wood options for walking stick?
« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2018, 04:52:22 PM »
I 'm like everyone else pretty much any will do I've used Pecan that vine wrapped sapling from fence rows, sassafras that have deer rub's on them I've just cut some of my wife's crepe myrtle  limbs that are the perfect size we'll see how that works I do know from past experience to work the myrtle green when it's dry it' shard  as a rock. Good luck have fun with it

Offline Unknown

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Re: What are some good wood options for walking stick?
« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2018, 06:12:22 PM »
Around here is not uncommon to see a horizontal branch on some oaks and black cherry trees to have vertical shoots or branches growing out of the much larger stem. Most of the oaks are short and gnarly, making you think of other uses and handles to make. I have seen a few Cherry branches with almost perfect walking stick shoots growing off horizontal branches.

Ash ought to be excellent for such behavior. From larger  damaged tress growing from the base too. The advantage being to harvest some more of the mother wood as well to make a knob or crook at the end. There are a number of trees that will send up shoots from the trunk when the tree has fallen over. Osage, sycamore for example.

Even if it is none of that, just an ideal looking sapling- I say- dig it up. Hickory is well known for its tap root. Or maybe another tree will have a crook or good knob down there, or maybe all you need is the root flare at the base

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Offline xj35s

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Re: What are some good wood options for walking stick?
« Reply #6 on: July 20, 2018, 06:29:23 PM »
Black locust. It's been a fence post wood around here for years. It grows straight and fairly fast. I planted 7 trees and they quickly grew up 40' and there are saplings surrounding them for a large area.

How long do you guy's let them cure? I have a maple that found me after years of searching. I bought some cheap stain from the dollar store. It's been inside since last fall.




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Offline Sarge

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Re: What are some good wood options for walking stick?
« Reply #7 on: July 20, 2018, 10:12:22 PM »
Not much else I can add. Looking forward to seeing what you find and what you do with it.  :popcorn:
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Offline Quickdraw

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Re: What are some good wood options for walking stick?
« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2018, 07:06:03 AM »
xj35s I don't know where I read it here or in the Backwoodsman mag. but I use left over wax that my wife throws away or gulf wax from canning melt it down and coat the ends fairly thick to keep it from splitting during the drying process then hang them up for at least 2 months before even starting to process them it's worked pretty well so far. By the way melt the wax outside it will catch on fire very  easy and is sort of messy.

Offline Mannlicher

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Re: What are some good wood options for walking stick?
« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2018, 09:03:24 AM »
I like kiln dried Ash.  I made several walking sticks back in the mid nineties,  and they are still perfectly functional.  I used two of them last week,  hiking on the AT in Virginia.

Offline wolfy

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Re: What are some good wood options for walking stick?
« Reply #10 on: July 21, 2018, 09:15:39 AM »
Bamboo makes a nice walking stick, too.:coffee:
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Offline Unknown

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Re: What are some good wood options for walking stick?
« Reply #11 on: July 21, 2018, 06:18:45 PM »
xj35s I don't know where I read it here or in the Backwoodsman mag. but I use left over wax that my wife throws away or gulf wax from canning melt it down and coat the ends fairly thick to keep it from splitting during the drying process then hang them up for at least 2 months before even starting to process them it's worked pretty well so far. By the way melt the wax outside it will catch on fire very  easy and is sort of messy.

Hi QuickDraw. I've missed several issues of BW, so it could have been both since we had a discussion about sealing end grain not too awful long ago. I  have used different things that were easy at hand like wood glue, left over latex paint- both work quite well. A thick coat of wax though, is truly hard to beat, possibly the best.

I also like to make a soft wax paste for wood. Usually with beeswax, turpentine, just to keep it old school. I reckon other waxes with mineral spirits or a mix of these solvents and waxes would be good- maybe better for certain qualities. I like using it on my garden tools more than linseed oil since I forget them out side and they get rained on / sun baked.
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Offline Quickdraw

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Re: What are some good wood options for walking stick?
« Reply #12 on: July 22, 2018, 06:55:52 AM »
Thanks Unknown I'll keep your recipe in mind on my next project. That's why I like this forum better than the others, most times I don't comment I just read and keep quiet. There's a lot of knowledge here. Still aren't brave enough to post pics of my projects but I thank you all for your comments and encouragement.

Offline xj35s

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Re: What are some good wood options for walking stick?
« Reply #13 on: July 22, 2018, 07:07:46 AM »
Not to change the topic much but...There is a backwoods survival magazine out now. It looked very interesting. I can't drop $10 on information that can be found free online. It's sad really.


Our Runnings store carries very large and long bamboo. I might have to grab one.

Thank quickdraw. Don't be afraid of showing what you've done. There will be no bashing and likely a lot of good helpful hints and tips. That's what this place is about.
pessimist complain about the wind. optimist expect the wind to change. realist adjusts the sails.

Offline wolfy

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Re: What are some good wood options for walking stick?
« Reply #14 on: July 22, 2018, 08:11:45 AM »
Here's a Wiki article on the nuances of specialized walking sticks......lots of good ideas included in this article.....

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walking_stick

There are a bunch of highlighted links to follow for specific terrains, conditions and situations.  I was searching for the old reccomendations that Lord Baden-Powell made for features that he considered to be important for the Boy Scouts.  Back in the day, each Scout was required to carry a 6' length of rope with a spliced eye-loop on one end and a toggle on the other and a multi-purpose waliking staff for the 'common good' of each patrol.....every kid in each patrol in the troop carried one of each.  Be sure to read that link, especially.  Just for giggles, here's the link for the toggle/eye splice rope, too..... https://web.archive.org/web/20070128222738/http://members.aol.com/troop632/trailhead/toggle.htm

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« Last Edit: July 22, 2018, 08:25:59 AM by wolfy »
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Offline hushnel

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Re: What are some good wood options for walking stick?
« Reply #15 on: July 22, 2018, 09:25:53 AM »
I just started one two days ago. I cut it off a 1 1/2? thick 57? board of Black Walnut that was a wedding gift to a good friends Mother from her father. He had the boards for 20 or 30 years before her mother got married around 1940. There is just a bit of sap wood in it so I don?t feel too bad about ripping off 1 1/2? off this antique black walnut that I?m using mostly for gunstocks and restoration projects. I still have two more of these boards about 6? by 20? by 1 1/2?. I gave her $75.00, her asking price and still feel like I stole them.

I just started one two days ago. I cut it off a 1 1/2? thick 57? board of Black Walnut that was a wedding gift to a good friends Mother from her father. He had the boards for 20 or 30 years before her mother got married around 1940. There is just a bit of sap wood in it so I don?t feel too bad about ripping off 1 1/2? off this antique black walnut that I?m using mostly for gunstocks and restoration projects. I still have two more of these boards about 6? by 20? by 1 1/2?. I gave her $75.00, her asking price and still feel like I stole them. I just started one two days ago. I cut it off a 1 1/2? thick 57? board of Black Walnut that was a wedding gift to a good friends Mother from her father. He had the boards for 20 or 30 years before her mother got married around 1940. There is just a bit of sap wood in it so I don?t feel too bad about ripping off 1 1/2? off this antique black walnut that I?m using mostly for gunstocks and restoration projects. I still have two more of these boards about 6? by 20? by 1 1/2?. I gave her $75.00, her asking price and still feel like I stole them.

One of my huge pecan trees is dead, it keeps dropping branches in the yard, don?t have a mill and the guy who does says he doesn?t cut Pecan, it?s too hard. I?ve read that it?s similar to Hickory in hardness. I have another buddy that has a mill, maybe he?ll cut up a log for me. It?s beautiful wood and would make great staffs. I little to heavy for guitar building but it might make a great spinning wheel or bench. I?ve done some cross cuts on thick branches and the wood looks good. I plan on turning a couple of bowls and spindles. A good bit of the smaller cutting will become charcoal.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2018, 09:44:55 AM by hushnel »

Offline crashdive123

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Re: What are some good wood options for walking stick?
« Reply #16 on: July 22, 2018, 06:23:02 PM »
If you have them in your area, Crepe Myrtle makes a great walking stick.

Offline Unknown

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Re: What are some good wood options for walking stick?
« Reply #17 on: July 22, 2018, 07:02:07 PM »
Probably nothing in that stash to match Rosewood density, Hush.  For folk wood instruments I guess it would depend on the grain and character of the wood, wlanut primiarily. All in all sounds like a good booty of old stash wood you found.
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Offline Quickdraw

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Re: What are some good wood options for walking stick?
« Reply #18 on: July 22, 2018, 08:21:52 PM »
Thanks guy's for the encouragement, like I said there is a lot of good ideas and feedback here, Wolfy we have lots of bamboo growing wild on the roadside here in southeast Alabama and as for the crepe myrtle we are blessed with it in our yard, even went so far as to make a small hatchet handle from some trimmings that's when I found how dense it is your draw knife better be sharp. Thanks again guys

Offline lgm

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Re: What are some good wood options for walking stick?
« Reply #19 on: July 22, 2018, 09:02:36 PM »
If you have them in your area, Crepe Myrtle makes a great walking stick.
I saw these in North Carolina.  What makes them so good?
I like Osage, loucst, dogwood, ash don't have much Hickory here.
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Offline JeffG

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Re: What are some good wood options for walking stick?
« Reply #20 on: July 22, 2018, 10:08:51 PM »
If you go to the woods to harvest walking sticks, think "upside down".  Pick a sapling a little thicker than you might want it, to allow for bark peeling, and drying. Secondly bring a keyhole saw to cut the roots that sprout at angles from the trunk. These are your handles, or shelf of the walking stick.

 Better saplings for this will be located on creek beds, where the roots are spread out at right angles to keep from being washed away. Saplings growing in rocky ground will have roots at crazy angles. Bring wax, as in paraffin, or thick varnish to paint the ends of the cut sapling. This will prevent checking due to moisture loss, like you see on the ends of firewood. Waxing the ends will force moisture loss to occur out the sides of the wood. I made this walking stick for my dad years ago. The right angle was a root that turned because of a rock. I dried it for 8 months before starting on it. I added elk antler ends to dress it up and minimize damage.  I think it was crabapple or chokecherry.



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Offline wolfy

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Re: What are some good wood options for walking stick?
« Reply #21 on: July 22, 2018, 10:35:00 PM »
Upside down.......EXACTLY! :thumbsup:   The balance is SO much better when done that way.  Even a slight taper is better on a straight walking stick.....adding a wrist lanyard allows you to relax your grip and get an effortless 'push' and recovery for the next pace, too. 
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Offline JeffG

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Re: What are some good wood options for walking stick?
« Reply #22 on: July 22, 2018, 11:16:01 PM »
...adding a wrist lanyard allows you to relax your grip and get an effortless 'push' and recovery for the next pace, too.

I like the lanyard idea!  8)
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Offline hushnel

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Re: What are some good wood options for walking stick?
« Reply #23 on: July 23, 2018, 02:01:09 PM »
Unknown,

Rosewood and maple are traditional for fingerboards, soundboxes can be just about anything including walnut, with spruce, cedar or mahogany for the tops. The walnut I have I would use as a cap over a solid mahogany body, I may resaw the ancient black walnut for a parlor sized acoustic but that depends on it having the correct grain orientation(flatsawn for the back, quarter sawn for the sides), using a Sitka Spruce top (quarter sawn), maybe Koa or mahogany, depends on the tone I want the guitar to have.

I?ve used Purple Heart for fingerboards, it seems to be similar to rosewood, and of course ebony is always a great fingerboard. The fingerboard makes more of a difference in fretless instruments, a fretted instrument you just need a good stable wood to hold the frets.

I cut another Blackwalnut staff today and octagon?ed it, sanded the flats down to 180, the first is being sealed with a satin hand rubbed Poly. Drilled a lanyard hole and attached a thick 1/4? leather thong with a toggle at the end made out of Deer antler then tied off with the knife lanyard knot.

I?m making the second one because often when I make a thing someone out at the State Park tries to buy it from me. This piece will not be cheap. A price that should inspire the person to make their own, I?ll show them how for nothing. You never know some people have more money than sense. If they gotta have it, I?ll make some wood money. ?o)

Some of you guys know I do a fair variety of halfassed projects. Sometimes the ispiration is just a desire to have the final thing, often it?s to see if I can do it, and even more often it?s the material telling me what it wants to be. Wood can sit around for a long time before it tells me :o) In the case of the Black Walnut over a hundred years since it was cut down. That ain?t no cheap hiking staff.

Offline Punty

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Re: What are some good wood options for walking stick?
« Reply #24 on: July 23, 2018, 07:57:58 PM »
  Great information everyone, thank you.

   I thought about finding one with some gnarly roots, but I think I want to try my hand at bending wood, so I'm going to go for a straight one and bend it. This is going to be a long term project. My idea is to bed it and dry it with the shephard's crook, more or less. Then, I want to burn some designs into it....I'll probably just use a coat hanger for the burning. Then, my buddy has some black walnut trees in his yard, so I will try making some black walnut stain, stain it, and then wrap some cordage on it in a few spots.

   The good news is that I am working on starting a blog, and it should end up being a topic for a blog article. I am something of an anti-tech luddite, so it's slow going, but I've got the basics. I'll be posting one blog a week. I want it to be fun, not a job, you know? Anyway, I'll be taking plenty of photos....but it probably won't be finished until September or so.
If the iron be blunt, and he do not whet the edge, then must he put to more strength: but wisdom is profitable to direct.
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Offline Punty

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Re: What are some good wood options for walking stick?
« Reply #25 on: July 23, 2018, 08:00:09 PM »
Bring wax, as in paraffin, or thick varnish to paint the ends of the cut sapling. This will prevent checking due to moisture loss, like you see on the ends of firewood. Waxing the ends will force moisture loss to occur out the sides of the wood.

  See, this is the kind of thing where "you don't know what you don't know". THANKS! :D
If the iron be blunt, and he do not whet the edge, then must he put to more strength: but wisdom is profitable to direct.
Ecclesiastes 10:10

Offline Unknown

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Re: What are some good wood options for walking stick?
« Reply #26 on: July 23, 2018, 10:00:09 PM »
Unknown,

Rosewood and maple are traditional for fingerboards, soundboxes can be just about anything including walnut, with spruce, cedar or mahogany for the tops. The walnut I have I would use as a cap over a solid mahogany body, I may resaw the ancient black walnut for a parlor sized acoustic but that depends on it having the correct grain orientation(flatsawn for the back, quarter sawn for the sides), using a Sitka Spruce top (quarter sawn), maybe Koa or mahogany, depends on the tone I want the guitar to have.

I?ve used Purple Heart for fingerboards, it seems to be similar to rosewood, and of course ebony is always a great fingerboard. The fingerboard makes more of a difference in fretless instruments, a fretted instrument you just need a good stable wood to hold the frets.

I cut another Blackwalnut staff today and octagon?ed it, sanded the flats down to 180, the first is being sealed with a satin hand rubbed Poly. Drilled a lanyard hole and attached a thick 1/4? leather thong with a toggle at the end made out of Deer antler then tied off with the knife lanyard knot.

I?m making the second one because often when I make a thing someone out at the State Park tries to buy it from me. This piece will not be cheap. A price that should inspire the person to make their own, I?ll show them how for nothing. You never know some people have more money than sense. If they gotta have it, I?ll make some wood money. ?o)

Some of you guys know I do a fair variety of halfassed projects. Sometimes the ispiration is just a desire to have the final thing, often it?s to see if I can do it, and even more often it?s the material telling me what it wants to be. Wood can sit around for a long time before it tells me :o) In the case of the Black Walnut over a hundred years since it was cut down. That ain?t no cheap hiking staff.

Thanks. Good stuff to know
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Offline Dabberty

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Re: What are some good wood options for walking stick?
« Reply #27 on: August 27, 2018, 01:35:23 PM »
I'm about to make 2 from maple, will keep it posted here about the progress. Will be my first time though.
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Offline wsdstan

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Re: What are some good wood options for walking stick?
« Reply #28 on: August 27, 2018, 05:29:04 PM »
I will follow that with interest.  I need a stick, was about to order a piece of hickory but have lots of time.   
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Offline NoseWarmer

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Re: What are some good wood options for walking stick?
« Reply #29 on: August 27, 2018, 06:32:19 PM »
Bamboo makes a nice walking stick, too.:coffee:

AA++ on that one... It's about time to hit the Home stores in the garden area, they usually have 6' Bamboo stakes going on sale, usually you can pick them up around $1-2.00

I have a stick that I made out of Cotton Wood, about 1.75" at the top and tapers to about 1" at the bottom, I burned the wet sapling with a propane torch and wrapped it in Micro Cord.
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Offline crashdive123

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Re: What are some good wood options for walking stick?
« Reply #30 on: August 27, 2018, 06:35:30 PM »
It's been my experience that for an expedient walking stick - whatever is handy and sturdy.  for sitting around at home and making one - whatever is handy and sturdy.

Offline wsdstan

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Re: What are some good wood options for walking stick?
« Reply #31 on: August 27, 2018, 06:47:55 PM »
My current walking stick is a graphite golf club shaft with a leather wrapped handle and a forked antler tip.  It works pretty well but I want a wooden stick.
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Offline Unknown

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Re: What are some good wood options for walking stick?
« Reply #32 on: August 27, 2018, 06:51:53 PM »
It's been my experience that for an expedient walking stick - whatever is handy and sturdy.  for sitting around at home and making one - whatever is handy and sturdy.

Lol. Ain't it so. Which is funny because there is the one way- this ole thing? Just a stick who cares? And the other way: of course I love sticks and walking so yeah.. I took my time and made it special. Which is better?  The one you have
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