Yucca walking sticks

Discussion in 'Self-made Gear' started by gila_dog, Aug 14, 2011.

  1. gila_dog

    gila_dog Guide

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    I've made walking sticks for myself and friends for many years. I've used all kinds of locally available wood (maple, Russian olive, oak) but I think I've found the perfect walking stick wood: yucca. In good years with some rain the yucca plants send up a long stalk that sprouts big white flowers. These become seed pods that dry out and then open up, dropping their seeds. These long seed stalks make excellent walking sticks. They are light but very strong. And they never warp. They aren't really wood. They are made of many long fibers, sort of like a graphite fishing rod. As you drive around the back country around here you see zillions of yucca plants with their seed stalks sticking up. So I stop and snip off some, using a long handled pruning nipper, and throw them in my truck. This doesn't hurt the yucca plant. It will grow more stalks another year. Later, I make walking sticks out of them. I use a saw and miter box to cut them to length. And a knife to trim off the rough stuff. Then I whittle a rounded top, and do some sanding. I drill a lanyard hole (I like paracord) below where a person's hand will rest. Then I put on a couple of coats of linseed oil. Then I put a heavy duty rubber cane tip (I buy Carex cane tips off ebay) and tie on a lanyard. A nice touch is to glue a metal button on top. I found a bunch of interesting metal buttons locally. These have a post or stud sticking out the back for thread. I dig a hole in the end of the stick for the button's stud with a screw driver, then fill it with epoxy and set the button down flat with it's stud in the epoxy.

    They turn out very nice. I give them to friends, and I sell them at local galleries and markets for about $20-25. People really like them because they look good, are light, strong, feel good in the hand, and will last forever with an occasional coat of oil. The rubber cane tip can be pulled off and replaced when it wears out.

    Here are some pics and info.

    http://www.smmtc.org/plantofthemonth/plant_of_the_month_200606_Yucca.htm

    By the way, the yucca is the state flower of New Mexico.

    Here is the stick I use all the time. It's getting a little beat up, but it's still going strong.

    [​IMG]

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    Last edited: Aug 14, 2011
  2. Doubletap

    Doubletap Scout

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    Cool I don't have yuca in my area I have used bamboo in the past but it hard to find a straight piece
     
  3. dog.breath

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    Nice post. I've got a couple I've made recently. One from soap tree yucca, one from sotol (aka Desert Spoon). I hadn't thought to treat them with linseed oil, though. I'm gonna do that today!
     
  4. MATT CHAOS

    MATT CHAOS Guide Bushclass I

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    Nice stick. I don't have Yucca but I have several other types. I think they are a handy tool and it is nice to embellish your own to make it your own.
     
  5. GreyOne

    GreyOne Elder Lifetime Supporter

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    The yucca here local to me is a bit thin and short to make a good stick- 2 to 3' long, and about thumb thick near the base.

    Out further west some can be found that are better sized. :)
     
  6. Nerual the Mad

    Nerual the Mad Guide

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    I never really looked at Yucca in that way. I'll have to keep my eyes oven for something long enough. Thanks for the post and pics..
     
  7. GreyOne

    GreyOne Elder Lifetime Supporter

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    One caution- it is very strong under linear pressure, and will bear weight very well, but if put under heavy sideways pressure, it can "crimp" and break very unexpectedly .

    I would not count on it for driving off stray dogs, or making a camp chair, for instance.
     
  8. g8rgar

    g8rgar Scout

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    Awsome like the idea Yucca works great for a bow or hand drill makes a quick fire.
     
  9. Old Philosopher

    Old Philosopher Banned Member Banned

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    Very nice! Reminds me of my mullein walking stick. Some materials just tend to get over looked.
     
  10. dog.breath

    dog.breath Scout

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    Wow, you must have some giant mullein up your way! The stuff that grows in AZ's mountains would make a good walking stick for a guinea pig. Um, you know, if guinea pigs needed such things :)
     
  11. Panzer

    Panzer Prepared Wanderer Supporter Bushclass I

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    My Yuccas are too short for hiking sticks but I plan on harvesting for bow drill. Awesome post
     
  12. Old Philosopher

    Old Philosopher Banned Member Banned

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    LOL! Yeah, it was a big 'un!

    Radical Walking Stick

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2011
  13. murphy

    murphy Scout

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    I've seen some yucca walking sticks juat like that for sale up at the little store in abiquiu, nm. Wouldn't be some of yours would it?

    Here around santa Fe the wild yucca doesn't put up stalks big enough for a walking stick. A lot of folks plant a type in yards and businesses that would work great though. Looks like I've got to go do some late night pruning. Some pruning shears and a good pair of running shoes ought to do the trick. ;)
     
  14. Gryphonblade

    Gryphonblade Guide

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    I have a yucca stalk I cut and made into a stick. I love it. Also have a chunk of stalk I am hollowing out into a didgeridoo.

    Never thought of mullen sticks. We just made them into spears and swords and arrows as kids. None around here now to try it. May have to go visit my sister in Helena MT to get me some!
     
  15. Old Philosopher

    Old Philosopher Banned Member Banned

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    Come 'n git 'em! The State of Montana thinks they're noxious weeds. :rolleyes:
     
  16. Newt

    Newt Scout

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    Agreed about the chair, but often a stick pointed at the nose of a dog will suffice (they don't know the stick is not oak)...they get the point that the human is armed and tend to respect that.

    If push comes to shove, the yucca will offer a solid thrust and can be quite effective in that manner.

    Think spear instead of ballbat.
     
  17. GrowlingBear

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    Good idea g.d. The buttons are a nice touch.
     
  18. nickosnow

    nickosnow Guide

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    that came out really nice
     
  19. Roamer

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    Just started reading "The Thousand Mile Summer" by Colin Fletcher, in which he uses a Yucca walking stick during his trans-California desert hike in 1958. There's a brutal scene early in the book where he uses it to kill a 4-foot-long rattlesnake. The Yucca walking stick is smashed to bits in the process -- maybe confirming what somebody previously said here about how Yucca doesn't have a lot of lateral/bending strength.
     
  20. gila_dog

    gila_dog Guide

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    Yucca is probably on the low end of the lateral strength spectrum, just above the telescoping metal ones some of my friends carry. If I wanted to whack snakes to pieces with my stick, maybe one made of a hickory shovel handle would be a good choice. I think bamboo would make a nice stick, as Doubletap said. I'll bet somewhere in the world there is a perfect bamboo for making walking sticks.
     
  21. bsred

    bsred Guide

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    What kind of yucca is that from? None of the stuff around here has stalks like that, but then I don't think any of them here are indigenous to the area.
     
  22. JEB

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    Been using yucca for years for hiking sticks. Wife and I spend winters in New Mexico and I always try and bring at least 25 stalks home with me. Because we spend many hours on the desert looking for arrowheads I can be very selective when cutting them down so I pick the straightest ones I can.

    I sand them until they are smooth and put 5 coats of Spar varnish on them. I sand the bottom down until a copper butt cap fits properly and then epoxy the butt cap on. I then put a rubber crutch tip over the copper butt cap. I also make a hole on the top end large enough for a hiking compass. On occasion I dremel an arrowhead shape near the handle end and glue ground up torquiouse into the shape and sand smooth. i also drill a hole at the top of the handle and attach a leather wrist strap on.

    I donate a few each year to our hiking club members. One member made me a dozen pints of jam for a stick. Boy did she set the bar high for the rest of the people that want one, lol.

    The white flowers are ediable and can be put in salads or just eaten right off the plant.
     
  23. gila_dog

    gila_dog Guide

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    Sounds like yours are very nice. I agree, straight ones are the best. I like all the varied colors and patterns they have, too. I may get a Dremel tool and try your idea of inletting something nice into the stick.

    I like to put the lanyard down below my hand. I don't use it much, just to hang the stick on my arm if I need to dig in my butt pack or take a picture. So I like having it out of the way most of the time.
     
  24. Newt

    Newt Scout

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    I went out to my yard and cut a stalk...knocked off the big stuff and it's drying in the garage now. I'll sand and varnish it when it dries...any idea how long this stuff will take?
     
  25. gila_dog

    gila_dog Guide

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    I wait until the stalks are dead and dried out before I cut them. Middle of the winter is a good time. Or next spring. Whenever you need something to do. :1:
     
  26. Newt

    Newt Scout

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    I generally don't cut them until my wife says "When are you going to cut those stalks down?"
     
  27. b owdenja

    b owdenja Tracker

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    I wouldn't feel too bad about the Yucca stick, I would probably smash to bits a 3/4" diameter stainless steel rod doing the same thing.:33:
     
  28. rick akers

    rick akers Tinder Gatherer

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    yucca walking/hiking sticks

    I found your comments on yucca hiking sticks interesting as I acquired one last year in Ft Davis, TX. They are as good as you say. Now, I am home in Long Beach, CA and to my surprise and pleasure a yucca in my backyard that I transplanted from somewhere in the So Cal mountains has bloomed. It is just losing it's flowers.

    I'm wondering if there is any particular time in your opinion to cut the stalk?

    How long to cure it or any thing other than leave it to dry out?

    Thanks for your thoughts or those of any other readers.
     
  29. rick akers

    rick akers Tinder Gatherer

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    hadn't seen the rest of the threads re timing when I posted this morning. Thanks.
     
  30. CactusBob

    CactusBob Scout

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    We have a couple of stalks for walking sticks as well. I'm not sure if they were yucca or sotol

    Bob
     
  31. gila_dog

    gila_dog Guide

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    I use both sotol and soaptree yucca. That's what grows around here. The sotol makes great sticks because it's so sturdy and straight, but watch out for the tiny splinters that can come off of it if it gets too dry. I really soak sotol sticks with linseed oil to prevent this. Or you can coat the stick with polyurethane, which ought to solve the problem too.

    We had no yucca crop at all last year. Maybe it was too dry. This year the yuccas are going crazy and putting up lots of nice stalks. The blossoms will be really beautiful next month. And it's still a drought year. Maybe they are tired of waiting for rain, or maybe they are telling us that the monsoon season (should start around July 4) is going to be really wet. I'm going to harvest a bumper crop of sticks this year.

    I've started wrapping the grip area about 1/2 way up from the lanyard with paracord. Sometimes the bare stick feels best, and other times I need a bit more grip. It takes about 18-20 ft of paracord to do this.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2012
  32. EdD270

    EdD270 Guide Bushclass I

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    Very nice work on the yucca sticks. I have a yucca stalk that I picked up at the Cochise Stronghold in the Dragoons that I'm going to make a walking stick out of, but it still needs some work. It's special because Cochise has been one of my heroes since I was a little kid, and I finally got to go to the Stronghold. Almost a pilgrimage.
    FWIW I think the yucca you're referring to are from either Parry's Agave, agave parryi, Sotol, dasylirion wheeleri, Bigelow Nolina, nolina bigelovii, or Soaptree Yucca, yucca elata. Just if you're wondering.
     
  33. TheMadPlumbarian

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    Nice job on your hiking sticks, I've been on the lookout for a new staff, and am looking for something diff, something really light and strong, my grandfather lived out in Az, and he had a bunch of native walking sticks and I remember one that looked like it weighed 20lbs but when you picked it up it didn't even weight close to two, and I think another was from a saguaro, very interesting plants out that way! JR
     
  34. Loogaroo

    Loogaroo BCUSA Friend Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    Never seen it here, that's a fine looking stick.

    Edit: It does grow here, but it's piddly little.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2013
  35. GreatLakesWoodsman

    GreatLakesWoodsman Scout

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    Very nice! love the coin on the top, i usually use black walnut and maple, but im in the hardwoods. i've never been to a desert i imagine its harsh!
     
  36. gila_dog

    gila_dog Guide

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    Here's a nice pic of a yucca blooming that I found on Google.

    [​IMG]
     

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