Skilled artisan: Stickmaker

I first became interested in stickmaking about 15 years or so ago when I was working for a local authority. At that time several people I was working with had an interest country pursuits, one of them made a few sticks. He gave me one it was a piece of antler thumbstick with Mahogany on for caps. As the years past I forgot I had this stick, but stumbled across it when we moved house. I decided then to have a go at making one myself, so I begged a couple of Hazel shanks, and made a couple of tops.

The following winter I cut a few shanks from a local wood, begged a few more seasoned shanks until mine were dry. I made one or two for neighbours and it just went on from there. You can say I had been bitten by the bug.

I will make sticks for the rambler to the shepherd, but I get asked regularly to make sticks for presents with pet dogs on. I often get asked what is the perfect height for a stick, and my answer is that there is no perfect height.

I don’t particularly have a favourite work tool, but there are tools more important than others, for example when working ram’s horn a 10 ton press and bulking blocks are essential. When making crooks I have a favourite inside line, that’s the inside shape when looking at it from the side. There are small differences in profile and shape a technical thing really; to the amateur it would go un-noticed.