A couple of years ago, one of the dads who was attending Cub Scout Day Camp with us shared his plans for making hiking sticks. They are awesome! It will take the boys a few weeks to finish them, if they only work on them during den meetings. The nice thing about this project is that the steps can be done during a den meeting or at home.
My Webelos den made these handmade hiking sticks, and they turned out great! Parker used his on a cold January hike. This is a good project for your Bears or Webelos.
Hiking Stick Supplies:
1 1/8″ x 4′ Dowel Rod
20 mm Compass
550 Paracord -17′ of cord per dowel
Aerowave Zipper Pull Survival Whistle
Rubber furniture leg tip
Danish Oil or Stain and Polyurethane
Prior to distributing the hiking sticks to the boys, pre-drill the dowel rods. Start by drilling a 20 mm hole in the top of the dowel rod. This is for the compass. Make sure the hole is deep enough for the compass to sit level with the top of the rod.
Drill two holes for the handle. The first should be approximately 3″ from the top (where the compass will be), and the second should be approximately 9″ from the top.
Step 1 – Give the boys their dowel rod and some sandpaper so that they can sand the rod. The boys are to draw designs on their rods with pencils. They can do this freehand. My friend Betsy’s sons printed designs from the internet and used carbon paper (yes, you can still get it!) to trace the designs onto the rod.
My boys struggled a bit with what to draw, so you might want to brainstorm designs with them. Sports teams and comic book or video game characters are good options. Make sure they put their names and the date somewhere on their hiking stick.
Boys can also add measuring marks to their sticks. If they do, have them put the rubber tip on the end first so that their measurements won’t be off.
Step 2 – Parents should do this step. Using a wood burning tool, trace over the drawings the boys have done so that the designs are burned into the wood. If you have a large den, you’ll want to have several tools available to set up multiple stations.
If you only have access to one tool, you can collect the sticks at a meeting and take them home to do the burning. They can be passed out to the boys at your next meeting.
Step 3 – This step will need to be done at home. Give the boys baby food jars (or other small containers) with 2 or 3 ounces of Danish oil. They should apply 3 or 4 coats before the next meeting. Using a clean rag, apply the Danish oil generously to the hiking stick. Keep rubbing the stick until the wood seems to stop absorbing the oil.
Allow the stick to dry overnight, and apply another coat. Repeat until you’ve applied 3 or 4 coats. Make sure you’ve sealed the inside of the holes, the top and the bottom of the rod.
The last coat of Danish oil should be applied at least 48 hours before your next meeting to give it time to dry completely.
Step 4 – Glue the compass into the recessed area on the top of the hiking stick. If needed, glue the rubber tip to the bottom. Our rubber tips fit so tightly that we didn’t need to glue them.
Step 5 – Wrap the paracord to form a grip and a wrist strap. You’ll start by inserting one end of the paracord through the top hole. Pull through the hole leaving about 9″ – 12″ hanging free. This will be part of the wrist strap. Insert the other end through bottom hole, and pull tight.
Start wrapping the handle grip up toward the top hole. On the first wrap around the dowel, pass the cord you’re wrapping between the paracord “line” and the dowel rod. This will keep the paracord from slipping.
The second wrap will go over the top of the paracord “line”. The third pass will go between the line and the dowel rod. Continue alternating between going over the top of the “line” and going between the “line” and the rod. This will hide the string going from the bottom hole to the top.
Every couple of passes, push the cord down so that there are no gaps between the wraps. Wrap the cord as tightly and as high as possible.
When you reach the top hole, insert the cord through it going in the same direction as the other part of the wrist strap. Tie a square knot to keep tension on wrapped part of the handle.
Step 6 – Trim the wrist strap to your desired length, and attach the survival whistle. Attaching the zipper pull is a very tight fit, so you’ll need to remove about an inch of the inner threads from the paracord.
And now, your hiking stick is completed! Make sure you plan a hike soon so that the boys can test out their new hiking sticks.
Yours in Scouting,
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