Cane and Walking Stick Bark Removal Tips

This spring, I am making wood canes and walking sticks from shrubs, tree branches and found wood (on the ground wood). I am find it quite relaxing. Not a lot of thought needed for the most part. Finding pieces that will make canes with a traditional cane handle are harder to find.

I live in a desert environment. For wood, I am mostly limited to Ash, Elm, Cottonwood, and Tamarisk. The more exotic woods either can not be harvested or do not exist where they can be harvested. There is an abundance of Willow along the Rio Grande River, but it is too small and light, and I doubt it can be cut down. Tamarisk (Salt Cedar) is defined as a noxious weed in New Mexico, so I can cut down all the Tamarisk I want. Not sure how Tamarisk will work for a walking stick or cane, as I remember it being brittle when dried.

As I learn the best way to remove the bark by scraping, I have made some interesting discoveries I will share with you. The best tool for scraping bark depends upon two things:

The first is the strength in your forearms and wrists. The stronger your forearms and wrists, the easier it is to take the bark off with a wider selection of tools.

The second factor is how fresh the cutting is. The greener the wood, the easier to remove the bark. If cut and peeled on the same day, a butterknife will practically be enough. I have seen a vegetable peeler used in one Youtube video. For older and drier the wood, a more serious (heavier) tool which needed.

I looked around the web for recommendations for scraping. As you can see from the photo, my collection ranges from a smaller kitchen knife, to a rasp and finally a paint scraper. They all work in their respective environments. The tool needed being dependent on how fresh and green the branch is.

Removing Bark for Canes and Walking Sticks is simple, and easiest when green.

We’re not talking cabinetry level work here, and I do not own a grinder or sander, so I am limited to hand tools. I have found the following to be generally true.

Very green, a paring knife or something like it works well. –4/26 – I forgot to mention, if you peel just cut wood, it is likely to crack.

Older wood, still somewhat green and a heavy knife seems to work quickly.

Very Old and/or really dry wood, my heavy duty Hori-Hori knife (Japanese hori-hori are better made and heavier)comes in to play.

Both kitchen knives are from second hand stores and cost me less than five dollars together, so I am not expecting a lot out of them. It’s not clear in the picture, but the blade on the chefs knife developed some bends along the bottom. Probably from my using the blade as a pry bar in a few spots today.

The rasp, I have found little use for other than branch knots and handle shaping. That being said, It would be a lot of work not having one. This rasp is part of a cheap set, but does the small amount of shaping I need without any real fuss. One note on the rasp. It builds up (teeth hold the shavings) when the wood is very green.

The final tool no matter what I use initially is, get ready… a paint scraper! Found out about paint scrapers from a 2011 youtube video by a man named, “Don Dailey”, Walking sticks prep 1. Thanks Don!

Most of the under-bark on all but the greenest pieces remains in places no matter how well the wood is scraped initially. The knives may leave some scratches too. The (orange) paint scraper has very sharp blades which scrapes and smooths, both at the same time. The other scraper hasn’t worked as well for me.

That’s all there is as far as I know right now. It’s not rocket science and there may be better and faster ways to remove bark, like an electric grinder which I don’t own. I don’t think there are any cheaper or simpler methods however. When it comes to bark removal, if you want to do it fast, cut and peel the same day. The older the wood, the harder it is to remove the bark.

Let me know how it goes for you, or if you have a better way to get the bark off.

My Good Friday Tweet to the Pope

@Pontifex, Previous #GoodFriday, meat #animal’s were killed, as always. Watching People refuse meat on GF is loathsome. Tens of thousand of pounds of animal meat go to the trash to rot as it wasn’t eaten, so People may feel reverent and pure. Stop this atrocity please.

I sent the above tweet to Pope Francis today, after watching more than one person pick the meat out of their Chicken Salad and Chilli at a restaurant today to have it thrown away. Meat comes from slaughtered Animals. Animals which were killed just so we can refuse to eat their meat today and send it to the trash because it won’t last another day?

There is no Good Friday magic that happens. Meat rots on Good Friday as well as it does on any other day. What is the justification of killing tens of thousands of animals around the world just to throw their meat away on this day?

At least Twenty-Five Thousand people die from starvation each day, and we refuse to eat what is in front of us.

I am ashamed for us! We no longer live in the Middle Ages. If we did, for most of us, meat would be a rarity, not an everyday food. Let’s move Good Friday out of the dark and into the light.

Simple Hole in the Ground Composting

It is spring. When spring arrives we all get the urge to do something outside. I know it’s way to early temperature wise to add to the compost pile and get any results. My compost pile, just isn’t that big.

I thought I would try something different Which I have been doing for about five weeks now. Compost holes. If you have ever been out camping decades ago, this was a common way of disposing of compostable material and if true wilderness, human waste. You simply dug a hole and buried it.

I’m sure as busy as many places are today, this is no longer done. Camping spots are more like mobile home parks than they are the remote locations they once were. However the idea is still the same. I have dug to date, five two gallon holes, one at a time. I add my gallon, more or less, of compostable material to the holes and cover it what I dug out minus the rocks.

I am curious to see if over the summer anything volunteers to grow in these spots. I marked them with a twig standing upright. With a little rain the material should break down and any volunteer seeds should have more fertile soil than other places. Of course weeds always lead the way, but they are compost for the next hole, or the compost pile when the temperature goes up beyond eighty.

Nothing more to add to this right now. Putting it out there for anyone who doesn’t have a compost pile, yet wants to compost. This is the simplest way to add to the soil. A ten or twelve inch hole, add your compost material and replace the soil.

Bionic Pup 8 Linux. Fast, Small, Complete

The latest Puppy Linux is out, named Bionic Pup 8 (BP8), and I think it is a winner! Bionic Pup 8 comes in both 64 and 32 bit flavors, so there is a BP8 for everyone. BP8 has a small footprint, a little less than 400M for the 64 bit ISO. BP8 runs off a usb, and has so many programs, and can perform so many different tasks, one may forget BP8 is a portable Linux, and not an overstuffed, full blown ISO.

I find it amazing that so many programs and features in such a small footprint. From initial setup, to playing a game, there are enough features and potential tweaks to keep everyone happy.

Desktop and initial Setup

If you need audio tools there are more than a handful to choose from. Same goes for video and Graphics tools. Yet there is more. Puppy has a more than acceptable collection of Personal and Office Tools though not in a suite. If you prefer, Libre Office, the download and install option are in the menu. You may find you don’t need it.

For the web, there is Pale Moon web browser, Claws email, Messaging and GTK Radio to name a few programs. Bionic Pup 8 has more programs available than many people will ever use. Persistent storage is an option if you want to use it, showing up on shutdown.

Puppy Linux’ loads into Ram, making it slower on the boot, but very fast when running. I have been playing around with Bionic Pup 8 for about five days now. Once BP8 is loaded, it’s the fastest Distro I have. Using Bionic Puppy 8, I forget I am running off a usb stick, it’s that fast.

Puppy Linux has so much to offer, with several excellent modified Puppy’s. Slacko or Fat Dog used to be my go to Puppy’s, but Bionic Pup 8 has really hit a home run. This version comes with more than needed standard and perhaps not so standard tools depending on your experience level. Every use should be able to do anything that needs attention.

A Menu everyone can love

Now after saying all these great things about Bionic Pup 8, some things haven’t changed. As I spend most of my time in a web browser or editor, I’m not picky about them, but you may be.

Visually, Bionic Pup 8 Desktop is awesome! Some think it’s a little crowded, to each his own. Programs may be the bland side visually – for some, and a little retro looking when compared to large and nicely polished Distros; even the games are fairly light. But comparing footprints megabyte to megabyte, Puppy Linux has the power and speed advantage.

All Puppy Linux flavors expect you can perform the basics. You are expected able to set up your system the way you want. This includes Internet, Printing, and other things you may want, Samba and your Lan name for instance. This sets Bionic Pup 8 apart from hold your hand beginner Distro’s, but not too far apart. If you set up your current Linux Distribution, you can set up and use BP8 too. On the bright side, everything you need or want is a mouse click away, and generally there are ample instructions to help you as you go. You just need to know what you want for your system.

If Bionic Puppy 8 is something you want to check out, and you have a spare usb stick, head on over to the Official Puppy Linux Web Site. You can read about Puppy Linux, check the link options, and view screen shots. If you want more, there is the Official Discussion Forum, Blog, Wiki, along with more discussion forums on other sites. There is even a Puppy School link available on the Wiki. Puppy is well supported.

Puppy Linux has been around a long time, and always delivers a blazingly fast, small (as in usb) footprint, and offers persistent, encrypted and unencrypted storage. Bionic Puppy 8 is worth you checking it out, especially if you are beyond the beginner stage, or you enjoy Distro hopping. Best of all, Puppy Linux is portable.

If needed, I have a previous post about a program named, Etcher which takes care of getting an iso from your hard drive onto a bootable USB stick. Etcher now runs on Linux, Mac and Windows.