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Development and History of English Stick Making

The craft of cutting a walking stick no doubt stretches back through time to when Man first walked on two legs. At first simple tools, they would quickly have come to be carved and decorated. The known history of walking sticks however, begins much later in mid fifteenth century Europe when sticks have been found ornately carved with historical events. The term 'cane' was introduced in Britain during the reign of King Henry VIII to refer to sticks made of imported exotic woods. Today the word continues to refer to the use of exotic woods as well as to mean a stick with a simple taper and without a curved handle.

Walking sticks have been made in numerous styles and from a wide range of woods including ash, chestnut, cherry, hazel, oak, orange, snakewood and rattan. The increase in leisure time and heightened appreciation of nature that has taken hold in recent years, has led to an ever growing demand for walking sticks. The crafts involved in their creation and embelishment are enjoying a revival leading to the formation of The British Stickmakers Guild in 1984.

Walking sticks have been made in the Stroud Valleys for over 150 years. At the turn of the century more sticks were manufactured here than in the rest of the world put together.

Manufacturing of Sticks Today


Phoenix Walking Sticks started in 1981 and is the only manufacturer of crook handled walking sticks in the UK making about 1000 chestnut sticks per day mainly for the National Health Service. We also have a range of more elaborate walking sticks and staves made from a variety of woods with different finishes and tops offering style and support.
Coppicing Our crook and bent handled sticks use wood from sustainable coppices. Coppicing is a traditional craft that involves cutting sticks when they are three years old and allowing the stumps to grow again. Three years on they will again be ready for stickmaking .With some woods, chestnut in particular, this process has been going on for over a hundred years.
The manufacturing process has changed little over the years. The wood is softened using steam and then bent, straightened, dried and then finished by hand.Preliminary Soaking
Steaming The sticks are steamed.
Microwaving.Microwaving
Drying Racks Drying Racks.
Polishing the ends.

Due to the nature of the raw material all sticks are different and are individually sanded and checked for quality.
Polishing the Ends
Raw Material Raw materials drying.
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Looking for something in particular? Call our team in Nailsworth on +44 (0) 1453 835816 or email us here.
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