Ash cane

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Project by Dave Polaschek posted 11-03-2016 03:14 PM 1355 views 1 time favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

In late October, I was scheduled for bi-lateral total knee replacemeant. Around the middle of the month, I had completed all of the “prep-work” I could, and was left basically keeping myself out of trouble. Seemed like a perfect time to start a new woodworking project, so I headed down to the local lumber-yard for a dig through the scraps bins. I found a clean piece of ash, four feet long, and a trapezoidal shape that looked like it would trim down to an inch by inch-and-a-half once I got it rectangular. The price? $3. Sold American!

Hmm. a cane for someone my height should be about 37-38 inches long, and with eight inches or so of handle, that’d be perfect. I’m going to make myself a cane!

Doing some research on the internet, the Derby and Fritz cane handle shapes looked most appealing to me, so I cut off about nine inches and started figuring out what parts weren’t part of the handle.

Knowing that my usual somewhat sloppy (but improving) joinery work wouldn’t make for a rock-solid handle, I did a little more reasearch. Draw-boring a dowel sounded like an interesting technique I hadn’t tried before, so let’s learn that! By offsetting the hole in the tenon by 1/16 inch from the hole in the mortise, a dowel driven through that hole will try to pull everything together more tightly, putting the load nicely on the shoulders of the tenon, and making a joint that even with “sloppy” 1/32” tolerances, would hold rock-solid. Perfect!

Test-fit things together, add some glue and put things together with the dowel. Man! That handle is on there solidly. I don’t think I’ll ever move it. Add in plenty of hand-shaping with a microplane rasp, some hand-radiusing using a slojd where the handle and shaft meet (I see why canes are so often made with collars now – that’s a tricky bit to get right), and a few coats of BLO, and all seems well. My knees are in, and as I walk from PT to the couch and back, I’m enjoying my new cane, and have gotten compliments from most of the health-care pros about what a handsome cane it is.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

4 comments so far

View GR8HUNTER's profile


7905 posts in 1591 days

#1 posted 11-03-2016 03:24 PM

very nice cane …...... looks solid …...... hope your knee surgery goes well …..... welcome 2 LJ’s …......GREAT JOB

-- Tony---- Reinholds,Pa.------ REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN :<))

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

5984 posts in 1461 days

#2 posted 11-03-2016 03:31 PM

Thanks. The knee surgery is done, and went as well as such things can go, I’m told. Lots of rehab, which will hopefully involve trips out the to the shop and perhaps walks around the lumber yards to stretch my new knees.

The cane, according to industry standards, should support a 500 pound man. It’s also nicely balanced, and at least one friend has suggested I practice my cane-fu with it.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View Jeremymcon's profile


416 posts in 1558 days

#3 posted 11-04-2016 01:13 AM

Nice! This sort of project is one of the things that make me really glad I’ve taken up woodworking. It’s a lovely, practical, extremely sturdy cane, cost next to nothing to make, and it’s something you can actually take pride in. Not like buying an ugly metal one for $20 from Walmart or something.

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

5984 posts in 1461 days

#4 posted 11-11-2016 06:21 AM

Thanks, Jeremy. Exactly. And it had the benefit of keeping me out of trouble for a couple weekends when my brain would otherwise have been worrying about the impending surgery.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

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