I produce one piece handcrafted walking sticks and canes from a wide range of wood species. My stock normally includes Alder, Ash, Birch, Blackthorn, Elderberry, Hazel, Hawthorn, Holly, Privet and Rhododendron. I also produce sticks from Ivy and Gorse but, due to scarcity of suitable shanks, they are not always in stock. Handcrafted walking sticks are special. They are synonymous with the charm and tranquility of country life.
Welcome to Derryhick Sticks
Types of Sticks
Just a few things you might like to know about my handcrafted walking sticks.
- Looking for a walking stick with a skillfully carved handle of traditional design or depicting a dog, bird or fish? Definitely, my sticks are not for you.
- Does a walking stick with rams horn, buffalo horn, cow horn or deer antler added as a handle appeal to you? Again, my sticks are not for you.
- If you like your walking sticks to be without flaw or imperfection and to have shanks as straight as a snooker cue, then my sticks are not for you.
If, however, you would like a handcrafted walking stick for every day rustic country living, you will be interested in my sticks.
Perhaps you like a once-off stick with a handle designed only by nature, then browse Sticks for Sale – Derryhick Sticks
A Derryhick Stick
A handcrafted walking with its own unique characteristics, a stick not just for admiring but for taking with you on a walk – that is exactly what a Derryhick stick is.
My sticks are produced from naturally grown shanks. The size and quality can vary significantly. Each handle is individually shaped. The shank is heated for some straightening – just enough to ensure balance! Then they are sanded… and sanded many times.
Finally, I apply several finishing coats of oil or varnish. Very few sticks turn out to be blemish free. This is to be expected and hairline cracks and colour variations are accepted as normal characteristics.
So, the slogan ‘Created by Nature – finished by hand’ accurately describes Derryhick sticks. I avoid the temptation to hide natural imperfections or other little idiosyncrasies. Every owner of a Derryhick Stick will quickly establish an affinity with knowing that he/she will never see a copy with anyone else.
Each stick is separately photographed and numbered. Therefore, if you purchase a Derryhick Stick, you can be assured that the stick(s) selected will be the precise stick(s) which will be despatched on purchase.
When I first started making walking sticks, I thought it would be a quick and easy task… I soon discovered I was badly mistaken! Stickmaking is a slow and tedious process requiring many steps before completion.
Firstly, I have to find suitable raw material. When sourced, the shanks have to be cut and hauled home…. often over difficult underfoot conditions as the cutting in normally done during the winter months. When I get them to my workshop, I treat the ends with a couple of coats of varnish or wax to reduce the risk of splitting while drying out.
I leave the sticks in a dry but well ventilated shed to season for a minimum of a year. However, for dense hardwoods (e.g. Blackthorn, Gorse, etc.,) I leave them for at least four years.
Then I do some minimal straightening – just enough to ensure a well balanced stick. I do not like walking sticks which have been straightened to resemble snooker cues… they look ‘factory’ made and lack individual character.
Next, I shape the handle to a comfortable grip and, I remove the outer bark if it is unsuitable or uninteresting.
Then the tedious task of endless sanding is done and finally several coats of oil or varnish are applied.
Not quite as simple as one might think!!
Sourcing the Shanks
Possibly the most enjoyable aspect of stickmaking is the task of sourcing the raw material.
I am always on the look-out for likely spots that may be home to a few suitable sticks. Once I identify an area, I seek permission from the owner to enter the land and search for and cut some sticks.
As soon as I get the go ahead, I’m off on a day’s hunting… for shanks! On such excursions I bring a sandwich and all of the gear necessary for the job, e.g. folding saw, small spade, gloves and some rope. Of course my trusted sprocker, Rocky, usually comes with me and, very often, he is my sole companion for the entire day!
After that it is a matter of chance and luck… some days will be fruitful with a dozen or more sticks being found while other days can be quite disappointing.
Next, I haul the day’s ‘catch’ home on back – sometimes a mile or more. This can be physically demanding as stick harvesting is always undertaken in November, December and January when underfoot conditions can be difficult and hazardous. However, the exercise gained in getting out in the fresh air compensates for the less healthy task of sanding the sticks later in the process. Once home, I treat the ends of the newly cut sticks with a couple of coats of varnish or wax. This is done to reduce the risk of splitting while drying out.
Next I sort the sticks into varieties (hazel, holly, ash, etc.) and put them away to dry out in an old disused hay shed. Here they stay for a minimum of a year but some species (e.g. blackthorn) can take up to five years to fully dry out. During the drying out period, I treat the sticks with an insecticide to prevent the risk of woodworm infestation. After that it is a matter of patience – just waiting until the sticks have dried out sufficiently to begin work on turning them into finished walking sticks.
When seasoning is complete, I begin the process of transforming the seasoned cuttings into walking sticks. I explore what options are possible for shaping a comfortable handle from what nature has provided. This task is rewarding even though it can be time consuming.
When the shaping of the handle has been completed I do a little straightening to ensure that the finished stick is well balanced. However, I feel so much character can be lost by trying to make sticks as straight as billiard cues. Therefore, I interfere as little as possible from the natural growth line of the stick. As as result, none of my sticks are ‘gun barrel’ straight but are none the worse of this!
De-barking & Finishing
Next I decide whether the stick should be de-barked, shaved or left with the bark on. If the shank needs to have the bark removed, I do this with a drawknife while seated on a shaving horse. From this stage to completion it is a matter of sanding, oiling, sanding, varnishing, sanding (yes, never ending sanding) and varnishing until I get that velvety sheen finish which is the hallmark of every Derryhick Stick.
All in all, taking the time involved in harvesting, seasoning, shaping and finishing, I estimate that a minimum of 8 hours is spent on each stick… makes the price look amazing value!
I do not use any machine to shape the handles on my Derryhick Stick. The handles are never carved to resemble dogs, birds, fish, etc. No separate handle is ever added to a separate shank. Every Derryhick stick is a one piece stick where nature has provided its own handle. All of them are just just as they grew or have been slightly modified to ensure a comfortable grip.
Down many years stick-makers and stick-dressing associations have given names to various shapes of handles. Many of my sticks have handles that closely resemble some of those handles… but only because nature produced them somewhat like such examples. In such instances, my description of a stick may refer to the nearest such formal name, e.g. ‘Grafton Knob’ like handle.