Thursday, March 31, 2011

Something to lean upon....

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,



bigcatdetective said...

Yes,a very enjoyable and read.I admire your work with wood as my sticks are as they fall to the ground.I Like a drop of scrumpy to oil the cogs of life though as well.......

Rachelradiostar said...

Hey there Mr Woodturner, I broke off mid blogfinish to pop by to see what you were up to! Very impressive stick! :) Are you making a new bench for your garden? If we guess right do we get a personalised stick? Ugh stick nearly rhymes with sick - which takes me neatly back to my own blog......
! :)

Janet said...

Love the celtic design on the stick-it is a beauty ! well done you ! as for your next project - pergola ? I think getting absorbed in doing something often gives your brain a rest from whatever is bothering you-its good therapy !look forward to seeing your next project.

Wolfy said...


You eloquently describe your potentially "blah" post of seasoning the Blackthorn - my ENTIRE post if I did any carving would be similar: "I began shaving off the bark and immediately removed 2-1/2 fingers. Hours later , I left the Emergency Room. The End"

You greatly understate your carving talents - I actually find it hard to believe that is your first attempt at such a project. I think it looks outstanding.

Kudos, my friend


Missy said...

This is beautiful!!!
Hope it assists you in some great adventures!!

You could also Kill a Zombie with it! LOl

Kim said...

If I were of religious leanings then I'd say that there may be something deep and meaningfully significant about your rod and staff comforting you in your times of disquiet - but I aint - so I wont! But you get the gist eh? Fine piece of work there - I'm sure it will support you for miles and miles of yomping. As for the new project.... is it a totem pole? ;)

Leigh said...

Big Big Smile John! Your mighty welcome! Your did a fantastic job!

Frugal Queen said...

hey - i loved that, more blogs about making blokey things, i get bored of knitting and cakes - y'mate..froogs!

Gorges Smythe said...

John, even as a Christian, I lived a few years not much caring whether I lived or died, though living seemed to have a slight upper hand most days. The Lord and "occupational therapy" (work) got me through. You'll come out of this slump just fine. God bless you.

Le Loup said...


Murphyfish said...

Thank you my man, ah scrumpy is a fine lubricant…

Thank you me dear, it’s a nope to the bench, but keep trying the winner may well receive a paltry prize ;-)

Glad you liked the staff, but it’s a no to the pergola – something far simpler (like me)

Ah you raised a smile here my friend, glad you like the staff…

Hey Missy,
Thank you me dear..

Hi Kim,
Nope to your guess, but thanks for the words and comfort they bring

Ah my Leigh,
Just thank you my dear, would not have happened with out you.

Mr, Smythe,
Thank you my good man, your words offer comfort as always

Thank you my friend.

Jennyta said...

Being able to lose yourself for an hour or few in an all-absorbing activity is very therapeutic. I am wondering if your next project is a bird table.

louisa @ TheReallyGoodLife said...

Wow, that's ace! The brass, leeather and carving really make it special - lovely attention to detail. Great work :)

Damn The Broccoli said...

Back in the land of the blogging after a long break it seems, I love the stick. I have one of these not even half finished, sat wasting somewhere. I'm very impressed.

I suspect I have an inkling of what you may be making from an inside tip!

Looking forward to seeing if I am right and if so the results.

Murphyfish said...

Oops Froogs,
Sorry missed a reply to you this morning (well it was 4:40 am when typing away) More blokey things in the pipeline me dear ;-)

It does allow the mind to rest awhile doing this sort of work, nope not a bird table me dear.

Hey Louisa,
Thank you me dear, glad that you like it..

Welcome back Damn,
Me thinks that perhaps you ought to dig yours out and finish it my good man. We'll see if your inkling is right my friend ;-)

Dog Hair in my Coffee said...

A chicken coop, a chicken coop! Even if that is NOT what you were PLANNING to build, it is what you SHOULD build. There is NOTHING like a few chickens to pull you up and into the land of the living! Chickens are good for the soul. AND, I wish there was a way you could ship a walking stick just like that over here. I would LOOOOOVE one just like that. It's BEAUTIFUL.

Murphyfish said...

Hey Laurie,
Love the enthusiasm but nope it's not a coup either - boy this project is sure going to be a let down for you folks, Mmmm shipping staffs to the states, maybe just maybe....

Anonymous said...

That is a beautiful piece of work. I am new to your blog and your journey but if there is one thing I have learned from my own, it is that losing yourself in creativity can be very healing indeed. Fostermummy X

gpc said...

Beautiful work, truly.

Shoreman said...

Hi John. Sorry I'm a little late getting to this comment, been a bit behind the last couple of days. The walking staff is beautiful. You've got a great talent besides your writing talent. I'll try to be better next time.


Murphyfish said...

Foster mummy,
Thank you for dropping by me dear, and thank you for your kind words.

Thank you so much

Hey Mark,
No worries my man, Glad that you like the staff - wouldn't have happened without the encouragement of others...

Helene Burnett said...

Your staff is a thing of beauty. It'll be a continuing joy to use as you walk the trails, and a reaffirmation of your skills.

I had a staff several years ago. My husband made it for me using knotwork rings and ties of leather strips on a closet pole. A nephew of ours took it off into our woods for a walk, was startled by a snake, and shattered my staff on an oak tree. I have to use crutches to walk now, but I miss the intricate beauty of my staff.

Are you building a raised bed for your garden, or perhaps a bench?

Doing something concrete and creative is another kind of food for the soul. Curiously waiting for your next project photos.

Murphyfish said...

Ah Helene,
Thank you for your kind words, I'm sorry that your staff is lost to you but one thing above anything that I'm beginning to learn is that all things change.

And yes you've near enough hit the bullseye with you guess upon project 2, hopefully all will be revealed by next weekend.