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I've read a little and I see that butcher blocks are really sturdy, but they only seem to be used for flat surfaces, can I somehow adapt the technique for walking cane. eg. make a dozen cylinder and glued them on top of each other ? That would probably be pretty strong in the up-down axis (assuming the cane is standing up) what if I wanted to reinforce it so that it can't bend as easily ?

EDIT: I'm not looking to get the butcher block look or even actually make a cane, I'm looking into techniques to reinforce objects of that shape aka long, curved and thin pieces. For example, an "S".

  • I don't think you'd gain any rigidity over just using a single thick dowel, but I could be wrong. – keshlam Oct 11 '15 at 0:12
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    Your choice of wood species here would be valuable to know. – Matt Oct 11 '15 at 4:23
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    Regarding your edit/clarification, it would help to re-phrase the question to make your intent clearer...as-is, I am still not quite sure exactly what you are asking... – AKA Oct 12 '15 at 1:21
  • We really need specifics. Curved pieces in bentwood chairs typically get much of their strength from the other pieces they're attached to. – keshlam Oct 16 '15 at 0:58
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If you are looking for a way to get the butcher block effect in a cane (ie: stacked dowel blocks), the best way to accomplish this would be to create your dowel parts and drill them through the middle. Then use a threaded rod to hold the pieces together (along with glue) and provide extra strength. You'd have the handle of the cane also held together by the threaded rod, and put a cap at the bottom of the can to protect that end as well.

The problem is, while it will add extra strength, it's still not something I'd be throwing any kind of weight onto. You'd be better off in the strength department by creating a laminated piece lengthwise (ie: gluing several long, thin pieces together), then turning it on a lathe to get it round. This would provide the strength you'd need for a can, but I don't think it would give you the look you are thinking of.

  • I'm not looking to create a butcher block look more then just searching for technique to make these kind of shapes more solid. I don't even want to make an actual cane. – user2475269 Oct 11 '15 at 16:21
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can I somehow adapt the technique for walking cane. eg. make a dozen cylinder and glued them on top of each other

You can, but I wouldn't recommend it. If you just glued cylinders end to end those joints are end grain to end grain, the weakest glue joint. You would need to reinforce the stick through the centre and drilling perfectly central deep holes into end grain isn't just difficult, it can be impossible with some setups — often you'd need to buy a specialist bit for just this type of work, e.g. a spoon bit.

It seems a needless complication anyway, since walking sticks of all sorts have traditionally and still are made from single pieces of wood (often saplings or branches) and they have proven strength and resilience.

If you decide you want to go ahead with your glued-up cane regardless, a good idea for the central reinforcement would be fibreglass or carbon-fibre rod. A simple hardwood dowel may be sufficient, but these would be stronger. I'm not certain you can easily buy them in the length you would require, but these are sold for example to make arrow shafts, as well as for fishing poles to give an idea of two possible sources.

  • What about the handle ? How could someone reinforce this, via something similar to butcher block or another technique. I can't insert a curved threaded rod in the handle can I? – user2475269 Oct 11 '15 at 16:37
  • @user2475269, unless the curve is very pronounced you could just reinforce with a straight rod/dowel or with a mortise-and-tenon joint. There's no reason you can't use a curved rod in theory, but there are no curved threaded rods that I can think of... and then you have the difficulty of how do you form a curved hole in the wood? It can be done (note: requires a specialist bit) but doing it to exactly match a given curve might be impossible. – Graphus Oct 12 '15 at 10:31
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There are 2 ways I know of to keep wood strong, or make it strong when it comes to thin pieces or curves, Steam bending or laminating thin layers just like plywood.

Like another post, I have used all-thread to reinforce wood floor vents I custom made for a floor install which was a lot of thin strips glued up to make slotted grills.

I do understand you do not wish to make canes, but steam bending is one of the ways the curve is made on canes. Heat can be used too, but perhaps that is with green wood.

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A classic cane is either carved from a single piece of wood, or several pieces connected with double-ended screws or similar hardware.

Long-grain wood is quite strong enough by itself for this application, as anyone who has used a fallen branch as a walking stick can attest; crutches, which take more weight than a cane typically does, are also just wood (though typically thicker).

A cane's weakest points tend to be either its ends or those screws fastening pieces together. Those areas are often reinforced with metal bands. The simplest way to do that is to turn the wood just barely small enough to force into a short length of tubing; if you look for instructions on making tool handles you'll find detailed instructions for that step.

However, you've admitted that what you want to make isn't really a cane. If you told us what you are really trying to do, and why you don't think hardwood can be strong enough, we might be able to give you more specific advice.

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