So what is a man to do when the gloom seems to surround him and threatens to suck the last of his spirit Dracula like away leaving just a barren, unfeeling and empty husk withering away with just the dreams of what might have been festering in his empty brain cavity? Head for the bloody garage that’s what! Ok so my recent posts have not been of the general uplifting sort, I’ll hand you that. But, in my defence, life has bluntly been pretty crap around here of late and yes I’ve allowed it to get on top of me to such an extent that I really could not see the wood for the trees. Make no mistake my frame of mind has not brightened a great deal and I’m still disposed to retreated back into myself full of dark and brooding thoughts, but I am trying to remedy the situation a tad, knowing it’ll be a long journey and I still have no idea what I’ll find or become at the end of it.
But life has to go on regardless and, coupled with the kind support of fellow bloggers (more like friends me thinks), the escape I find when writing is beginning to help and these two things put together have become a staff that I can lean upon. So what finer thing to write about than project number 1, the walking staff. Yes folks, the grumpster has actually managed to finish a project to completion (please sit down at the back). So, begging your indulgence, I’ll take you through the simple stages of producing my latest walking piece of kit.
Some of you may well remember my reasons for wanting a sturdy staff after this post last year, not only was it for aided me over rough terrain and many miles of walking it was also there to give me a certain ‘piece of mind’ without attracting the attention of the old bill.
So to begin, stage one was obtaining a suitable piece of wood for the staff. Originally I was going to harvest some blackthorn during February with the intention of seasoning it over the coming months. You’d have had a very short post here then – found stick, now waiting for it to season, thanks for reading. But as luck would have it a few weeks ago whilst bringing order to my hallowed shrine (you know where I mean) I came across a long forgotten piece of apple wood that had been hidden away since god knows when. Initially I didn’t think that the piece looked to promising but after cutting the damaged end off the cross section seemed to show that all was well with the piece. A couple of hours of patient scraping with nothing more than my Opinel knife revealed only one potential flaw where a large knot had come adrift leaving a possible weak point (my weak point is cider). This I crudely filled with two pack glue combined with fine sawdust from earlier work.
Attention then turned to producing a suitable feral for the foot of the staff. I was fortunate to obtain some brass bar which was slightly oversize compared to the diameter of the staff, ideal then. So during one of my coffee breaks in the grind (honestly it was during a break, well sort of, oh bugger but it was on nights), I turned the piece of brass down and drilled it out to 25mm (about an inch). Once back home the end of the staff was shaped so as to be slightly oversize for the hole. The brass was then heated to cherry red, the staff pushed home and then the whole lot quickly submerged into water shrinking the brass to the shaft. Surprisingly this has proved an extremely secure join and I’ve sealed any slight gap between the brass and shaft with the two pack adhesive.
Then followed hours upon hours of sanding (which proved almost meditative), reducing the grades to achieve the required finish. Once done, I whipped the piece above the brass feral with twine, it just seemed to flow right, but of course that’s just my own feeling about it. Then came some carving, bugger I was not looking forward to this. But, fair play, following a design sent to me by my dear friend Leigh from across the pond I managed to make a half decent first attempt at this sort of thing (wetting my appetite for more, much more to be honest). After carving out the design I again filled the cut out with two pack, this time mixed with sawdust from some mahogany that I had lying around. Once dried completely again it took a couple of hours of patient sanding to reveal the design, which I think ain’t to bad at all, but then I am a tad biased. The hand strap again cost me nothing as I’ve utilised a dog leather dog lead that was not suitable for the warthog.
The final stage was the application of a couple of coats of oil followed by a couple of wax. The finish is better than I expected and the weighted end gives the staff a solid feel, one that should give me some support on the roads ahead. I have not yet tested the staff upon the trials; this will have to wait until next week now as the grind is calling tomorrow. I think that with time and use the colours of the brass, leather hand strap and wood will mellow and blend to a more pleasing look, well that’s the plan anyway.
At this point I’d really like to express my heartfelt thanks to Leigh; you’ve helped me far more than you could ever know my dearest of friends.
And as for what’s next from the garage, well work has already begun upon project number 2, can you tell what it is yet? (A clue, it’s going in the garden).
Once again my friends thank you for your support and I hope that you’ve found some enjoyment from this piece. It is true that I’m not yet healed of my woes, but every little step helps.
As always, your friend,