Filed under: Emergency, Health, Preparedness, SCA, Survival, Violence | Tags: cane, cardiac stent, D.I.Y., defensive, health, Preparedness, SCA, self-defense, survival, violence, walking stick
(So, been a while, eh? Yeah, it has. But no worries, things have been going very well, through a lot of minor and not-so-minor changes. More about all of that will emerge as I get back into regular blogging — you’ll see.)
A few weeks back a friend posted a question to a discussion group along these lines: what was a good, basic self-defense item which you could have under most situations which would be innocuous yet effective?
But after a bit, a general consensus which emerged was that a walking stick or cane would fit the bill. And people posted links to various such items, ranging from the very basic to the traditional to the ultra-modern. There are a HUGE selection of different options out there, if you just do a search for one. Looking through a bunch of different choices, I got to thinking that it should be pretty easy for anyone with minimal woodworking skills to make their own walking stick to their own specs, for a lot less than most of the items was seeing cost.
So I set out to see what it would take. And I set my goals:
- The stick should be made from readily available materials, with minimal tools.
- It should be completely free of all metal, so as not to arouse suspicions when being scanned.
- It should look and function as a real walking aid, not just a disguised cudgel.
- It should nonetheless be an effective defensive tool.
- It should cost $25 or less.
I stopped by a local home improvement store, and found the following:
That’s a 1.125″ rubber foot for about 50 cents, a wooden (oak) decorative cap (finial) that was about $4, and a hickory replacement handle for a sledgehammer or axe for about $14. Here’s another pic:
I chose hickory because it is well known to be a hard, dense wood. Next pic:
I removed the metal screw from the finial, then used a spade bit to expand the hole to about an inch. I used a wood rasp to make the mounting end of the replacement handle likewise about an inch in diameter.
Then I added some wood glue, and tapped the finial onto the replacement handle.
I did the basic shaping of the finial into a knob suitable for my (large) hand.
Here’s the top of the finial. I inserted a bit of .375″ dowel into the hole with some wood glue, then allowed it to dry. When it was dry, I rasped the whole thing down to a smooth hemisphere about the size of a tennis ball.
That’s the overall stick. It’s about 37.5″. Note that it is no longer quite the same size or shape of an axe handle — I spent an hour or so with the wood rasp, and took it down a fair amount. There it’s smooth, mostly uniform (no longer has as much of a swell in the wood up by the head), and about .25″ narrower and thinner.
This just shows the finished width of the handle — about 1.5″. It’s also just about 1.25″ thick. Both of those dimensions are a little larger than your typical commercially-available cane, but it no longer looks like an axe handle. After I was done with the rasp, I smoothed it out with some 60-grit sandpaper, then some 120-grit, then some 220-grit. I wanted it smooth and ‘finished’, but wasn’t worried about it being super smooth.
I then gave it three coats of urethane stain (dark walnut), sanding lightly between each with 600-grit sandpaper. Then I added the rubber foot and a simple braided leather lanyard.
Another detail of the head.
Holding it with the lanyard around my wrist.
That’s it. Simple, effective cane/walking stick. Nothing metal or high-tech about it to alert someone that it is anything other than a walking stick. Total cost under $20, since I already had some simple tools, sandpaper, and stain on hand. And a total of a couple hours of labor.
Something I want to note: the handpiece/finial is not intended as a striking surface. You don’t need any additional bulk or weight there for this to be a very effective defensive tool. It’s more like the pommel on a sword. In fact, the overall length, heft, and other measurements is very similar to the rattan broadsword used in SCA combat. As such, I know full well just how effective such a tool can be against another opponent in even confined spaces. And now that I’m an old guy with a couple of cardiac stents in place, I need a good walking stick with me no matter where I go …
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