Among fruit trees, the cherry will furnish some very nice fancy sticks, supple, and of tolerable strength; and apple wood, when well and carefully dried, will yield some good sticks. Grape-vine and briar sticks cannot be relied upon for stability when leaned upon.
When sticks are half-dried, that is, when the bark is shrunken, has lost its sappy greenness, and refuses to peel freely, they may be trimmed, straightened, or bent as required. To bend or to straighten them, they may be held over steam until rendered supple, or buried in hot wet sand until this end has been attained; they must then be given the form they are intended to assume (whilst still hot), and kept in this form until they are cold, straight sticks being tied firmly in small bundles, and wound with a coil of rope from end to end, or suspended from a beam by the knob end, whilst a heavy weight is hung from the small end. Crooks may be turned by immersing the end in boiling water for 5-10 minutes, then bending it to the desired form, and securing it in this position with a tourniquet (Fig. 350 A) until the stick is cold. The bark may next be taken off with a sharp knife, if so required, and care must be taken not to splinter or chip the wood of the stick. Knots may be trimmed at the same time, and the knob trimmed up to shape. Hard and fast rules cannot be given for the formation of knobs, since their form must be regulated by the natural knobs, and these are often very suggestive in themselves.
One or two things should, however, receive consideration in designing a knob, and the first should be the ultimate use of the stick. If the stick is to be a fancy one, to be carried and swung in the hand, more for appearance than for use, then any amount of skill in carvings may be expended on the knob; but if the stick is for use, we should first consider its use. Round smooth-headed knobs (Fig. 350 B) carved and polished to fit comfortably into the palm of the hand, will meet with most acceptance from those who use a stick as a support. But knobs thus formed, and shorn of a projecting crook or hook, often slip from beneath the arm or out of the hand when its owner wishes to use both hands for some purpose. The head of a dog with a long muzzle, the head of a swan or a goose, forms an appropriate design for such a stick. The crutch (Fig. 350 C) or half-crutch form (Fig. 350 D) is also a comfortable one, but the ordinary crook (Fig. 350 A), although useful for many other purposes, does not fit comfortably in the hand, it is too much of a handful, and the central support usually finds its bearing under the forefinger instead of the palm of the hand.
Sharp earring on the knob should always be discouraged, for it only hurts the hand, but the neck of the knob may receive the carver's attention.
Elm sticks with the rough bark left on (Fig. 350 £) must be neatly trimmed, naked around the neck of the knob, and at the bottom of the stick just above the ferrule, loose bark should also be neatly trimmed with a sharp knife, and the whole lightly gone over with medium glass-paper. The stick should then receive a dressing of boiled linseed oil, and be left to dry. When dry, it will be well to go over the smooth parts with a little polish, and finally give one or two coats of hard spirit or copal varnish. Holly, ash, hazel, cherry, apple, birch, etc, should have part of their bark only taken off with a sharp knife, leaving all knots smoothly trimmed, rounded, and clean. The sticks should be then lightly glass-papered, and, when smooth, dressed with boiled linseed oil, dried, polished, and varnished. Oak sticks look best when carefully barked in hot water, cleared of the loose bark by rubbing with canvas, dried, dressed with boiled linseed oil, again dried, then polished and varnished with oak varnish. Blackthorn sticks should be only partly barked, the knots smoothly trimmed, then glass-papered quite smooth, dressed and varnished as directed for other sticks.
Sticks may be stained black after they have been glass-papered, and before they are dressed with oil, by first brushing them over with a hot and strong decoction of logwood and nut-galls, and when this has well dried, brushing over them some vinegar or acetic acid in which a quantity of proto-sulphate of iron, some iron rust, or some old rusty nails has been steeped some 2-3 days previously. A brown or mahogany tint may be given by adding some dragons' blood to the polish, and a yellow tint may be obtained by adding yellow ochre. Some persons use ink for a black stain, and others put drop black in the varnish, but the black stain above mentioned is preferable to all others. The sticks are to be polished and varnished after the stain is dry. The bottom ends of walking-sticks should be guarded from excessive wear by a neat brass ferrule, but these are more cheaply bought than made. They should be secured to the stick by two small screws, one on each side of the stick, to prevent them from coming off when they get loose in dry weather.
The remaining diagrams in Fig. 350 indicate as follows: - r, blackthorn knob in the rough; G, ash root as dug up; H, ash root trimmed; J, ash or oak knob as pulled from pollard or stump; K, the same trimmed; L, stick bent and trimmed to form a crook. (G. Edwinson).
(3) Use Judson's simple dyes; they are so clean, and moreover so economical in their application that they take the leading part in all work of fancy] or intricate workmanship. Put the stains on with a camel-hair brush, diluted with water. For dark stains use copal varnish, or purchase some from a coach painter. For light woods use the light crystallised varnish, such as is used for the tops of washstands, etc. Old damaged sticks that are varnished should have the varnish eaten off with liquor ammonia;, then rinsed, scoured, stained, and varnished again.
(4) Make a solution of 3 parts glue in 100 of warm water; to this add 1 part whiting, 2 parts orange chrome. Mix well. Apply hot with a soft brush to your sticks. When thoroughly dry, rub down with a piece of dry flannel. Apply a second coat of colour if deeper tints be required, or use burnt umber and brown ochre for oak tints. When dry, apply the following varnish: - Coarsely-powdered copal and glass, each 4 oz.; alcohol, 64 O.P., 1 pint; camphor, 1/2 oz. To be heated over a water bath, with constant stirring, until the copal is dissolved. When cold, decant the clear portion. Be careful that the alcohol does not inflame.