Custom Walking Cane Gospel Song Amazing Grace Hand Carved Lettering Bird's Eye Maple Walnut

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Project by Mark A. DeCou posted 08-14-2013 09:16 PM 5663 views 5 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Here is a new walking cane that I finished a couple of weeks ago.

I call it the “Amazing Grace” cane, with the 5th verse carved in letters from the famous gospel song.

Serial Number #2013-02
Height: 36”
Bird’s Eye Maple Derby style Handle
Black Walnut shaft with carved lettering.
Brass Ferrule, with rubber tip.


Project Story:

Most of the time, my customers tell me what they want, such as using “this” handle, or “that type carving”, this wood, or that material in this, or that way, or other things that they assemble together in their mind from photos they’ve seen of my other work, or from other carvers, or collector’s books on walking canes.

Seldom does someone just turn me loose to do what I want. However, this cane was one of those projects. The customer is a CEO of a company I used to work for, and I’ve sold him quite a few things after quitting him to do crafts full time. So, we know each other, and this time he just turned me loose with only a little bit about the employee that is retiring soon. The guy likes Alabama Crimson Tide sports, and loves to sing in the church choir.

Hmm…. what to do?

I did another Amazing Grace themed cane several years ago for my Uncle Robert. I’ve been wanting to do another one, but different in some way. So I start thinking, “Maybe this singing in the choir thing would be the time to pull out the Amazing Grace theme again….”

But, I just didn’t know exactly what the details of the design would be, nothing seemed to come in clear.

I didn’t want it to be like my Uncle’s cane, I wanted to do something different. And to be honest, once I’ve accomplished a new thing once….I’m sort of “done”. There are others like that, maybe you are like that. I had a younger woodworker out to the shop this weekend, as I was trying to fuel his passion and imagination, and he expressed the same thing in his life. One, and done…onto the next challenge. And, I’m like that, quite a few of us woodworkers are like that also.

But for me, finding the inspiration of just exactly “what” to do next can be a challenge. Most of the time, customers tell me exactly what they want and I’m not faced with inspiration decisions. Maybe that’s why it’s hard, I don’t get enough practice…...

For those of us that are old enough to remember “Dad” making us stand by the TV and adjust the rabbit ears to make the show come in clearer….sometimes my lack of an inspiration for a new design feels like a TV with the antennae out of whack, it just doesn’t come in clear, snowy, you can almost make it out, squiggles, rolling, rolling, nope it’s gone again. Try some aluminum foil…..nope, move it back, raise your foot, stick out your hand….that’s it, don’t move!

Many folks my age remember the days before remote control, when the kids had to get up and change to one of the other 3 channels. Oh, the good old days, huh? But, I digress…...

Sometimes, inspiration doesn’t come on a schedule for me, I wish it did. When a deadline is looming, it can get pretty stressful. I feel like Pooh Bear poking his head saying, “Think, Think, Think…...”

I’ve learned to say instead, “Pray, Pray, Pray.”

This new Amazing Grace cane was like that for about a month. I knew I wanted to use that theme, but didn’t know how.

After selling my handcraft work for the past 16-17 years, I’ve learned that Customers don’t like to wait on my “inspiration”. Everyone seems to be on a schedule, and our culture’s understanding of originality and the time it takes to create something with a pair of hands from scratch, just, well, how do I describe it?....maybe that it just lacks in clarity….they just don’t know they don’t know…..

They don’t mean to not understand it, they just don’t understand what they don’t know about crafting an item from scratch. They watch TV and see complicated things whipped out of some factory, or crafted by some guy over weeks that is edited down to a 30-60 minute episode.

I wish it sort of worked like a machine….maybe even better, a time machine. I just give it a drawing in a computer file that I bought somewhere and hit “go” and then ship it, if the deadline has passed, just jump in the time machine and deliver it. But, I just don’t work like that, and really, I don’t want to work like that.

Pray, pray, pray, think…..

And Suddenly, like a “flash” in the middle of the night, an idea wakes me up. At that moment I just know it’s the right way to go. I don’t need to write it down. I don’t need to worry about forgetting it in the morning. When that “Flash” happens, I don’t forget it, and the problem has been solved, I just go back to sleep….even if my wife says I snore, I sleep well.

The “Flash” was to do something original, use the words to the gospel song Amazing Grace. But, did I really want to spend all that time carving letters on a small round object? Not really, but I’ve learned not to deviate or compromise after the “Flash!” even if it’s hard work.

I chose to carve the letters for the 5th verse to the gospel song “Amazing Grace”.

”When we’ve been here ten thousand years…
bright shining as the sun.
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise…
then when we’ve first begun.”

The lettering wraps up from the bottom, 72 lineal inches of text, following the ribbon twist style shaft that I made.

The shaft is black walnut, the handle is bird’s Eye Maple with burled walnut and spalted sycamore rings.

On the back end of the handle in the burled walnut pointed section, I carved the letter “T” to represent the last name of the retiring recipient. The lettering has gold acrylic paint. The finish is danish oil and satin lacquer.

So, instead of putting the company logo on it like every other retirement gift has these days, I put the 5th verse of Amazing Grace, which speaks to the Christian’s hope in eternity…..and it’s my favorite verse of the song.

Ah, it feels good to be done with this one…..

Thanks for looking,
Mark DeCou

(note: all text, photos, and project design are protected by copyright 2013 by the Author, no use in whole, or part is allowed without the expressed written authorization of M.A.DeCou)


Handmade Finished Canes For Sale, Ready to Ship Now: Online Shop Inventory: Click Here to Visit my Cane Inventory Page

A Sampling of Other Canes I’ve built:-

Folk Art & Pop-Art Carved Canes
  1. Bear Head Dressy Cane
  2. Horse Head Dressy Cane
  3. African Safari and Elephant Cane
  4. 50th Wedding Anniversary Staff
  5. Carved Face Life-Story Cane
  6. Motorcycle Biker's Walking Cane, Carved Flames
  7. Elk Antler Handle, Carved Twisting Oak Leaves
  8. Bishop’s Carved Walnut Crosier
  9. Nascar’s Jimmie Johnson Themed Walking Cane
  10. Carved Oak Leaf Walking Stick
  11. Folk-Art Smiling Wood Spirit Face Cane w/ Elk Antler Handle
  12. Folk-Art Carved Wood Spirit Hiking Stick
  13. Folk-Art Pirate Carved Face Cane w/ Deer Antler Handle
  14. Cartoon Character Taz, Folk Art One-of-a-kind Art Cane
  15. Sculpted Wood Spirit Face Cane
  16. Folk-Art Wood Spirit Cane w/ Elk Antler Handle & Scrimshaw
  17. Folk Art Mountain Man Face Cane
  18. Shamrock Wood Spirit Irish-Theme Face Cane
  19. Walnut Wood Spirit Face Cane with Antler & Turquoise
  20. Collection of Face Carved Canes
  21. Moses-Inspired Face Carved Cane w/ Antler & Turquoise
  22. Shepherd's Stick, Carved Border Collie Welsh-Style Dog Show Trial Stick
  23. Carved Oak Leaf Walking Cane with Scrimshaw Artwork
  24. Amazing Grace Music Notes Carved Cane
  25. A Lady’s Elegant Red Long-Stem Rose Carved Cane
  26. Prairie Fire Hand-Carved Hiking Thumb Sticks
  27. A Folk-Art Carved Albatross Head & Snake Walnut Cane
  28. Carved Folk-Art Walking Cane; 'The Greatest Story Ever Told' Story Stick with Scrimshaw Artwork-
Native American Indian Theme Folk-Art Canes
  1. Apache Chief Geronimo Folk-Art Face Cane
  2. Folk Art Native American Face Cane Set
  3. Apache Chief Cochise Folk-Art Face Cane
  4. Folk Art Carved Cane of Shoshone Chief
  5. Indian Guides Chief Big-Red-Cloud Hiking Stick
  6. Apache Chief Cochise #2 Folk-Art Face Cane
Scrimshaw Artwork Canes
  1. Scrimshaw Quail and Bubinga Spiral Dress Cane
  2. Scrimshaw Art Trophy Buck Deer Head
  3. Scrimshaw Art Walking Cane: Praying Mantis Insect
  4. Scrimshaw Art Walking Cane: Floppy Eared Bunny Face & Walnut Barley Twist
  5. Big & Tall Barley Twisted Oak with Scrimshawn Handle
  6. Walnut & Curly Maple Cane with Scrimshaw
  7. Scrimshaw Art Walnut Cane
  8. Fancy Barley Twist with Scrimshaw Cane
  9. Lady's Dress Cane, Red Oak, Walnut, Black Lacquer, & Scrimshaw Artwork of a Purple Cone Flower
Natural Sapling/Limb Canes/Sticks
  1. Ash Sapling with Elk Antler and Inlays of Crushed Turquoise
  2. Knarly Cedar Driftwood Topped Sapling Stick
  3. Folk-Art Carved Wood Spirit Hiking Stick
  4. Nanny McPhee Movie-Inspired Crooked Walking Stick
  5. Naturally Twisted Tree Sapling Cane
  6. Naturally Twisted Tree Sapling Walking Stick
  7. Shepherd's Crook Hiking Stick
  8. Black Locust Tree Sapling Walking Stick
  9. Red BirchTree Sapling Hiking Stick
Fancy Barley-Twist Style Dress Canes
  1. Fancy Barley Twisted Ebonized Oak & Elk Antler Cane, Serial No. 2009-05
  2. Big & Tall Walnut & Maple Barley Twist Custom Cane
  3. Big & Tall Red Oak and Antler with Scrimshaw Monogram
  4. White Oak Barley Twist Cane
  5. Osage Orange Barley Twist Cane
  6. Walnut & Figured Maple Barley Twist cane
  7. Black Walnut and Spalted Sycamore Barley Twist
  8. Red Oak Barley Twist with Black Lacquer
  9. Red Oak Barley Twist with Walnut Handle
  10. Dress Cane, Oak Barley Twist with Walnut Ring
  11. Bryan's Cane, The Start of my Cane Journey
Fancy Dress Style Canes
  1. Ribbed Walnut Cane with Camphor Burl Derby Handle
  2. African Blackwood and Lapis Lazuli Ball Walking Stick
  3. Pink Ivory and Elk Antler Dress Walking Stick
  4. Coiled Ribbon Twisted Spalted White Oak with Walnut Handle
  5. Polished Black Steer Horn Upright Walking Stick
  6. Mexican Bocote Wood, Elk Antler Handle with Hand-Wrought Fine Silver End Caps
  7. Fancy Walking Cane, Camphor Burl, Maple, Bubinga, Whitetail Deer Antler, Inlays & Silver End Caps
  8. Custom Dress-Up Walking Cane, Walnut shaft with a Camphor Burl Handle
  9. Walnut & Buffalo Horn Twisted Cane
  10. White Birch & Buffalo Horn Twisted Cane
  11. Walnut Bamboo-Style Cane with Chrome Ball Top
  12. Walnut & Buffalo Horn Dress Cane
  13. Bird's Eye Maple Cane
  14. Spalted Sycamore Walking Cane
  15. Walnut Tall Knob Top Opera Cane
  16. Zebrawood & Walnut Knob Top Opera Cane
  17. Dress Cane Set, with several Material Options Shown

Click here to go to My Website page with Walking Canes

I usually have a few canes in stock at:
  1. Hatman Jack’s Wichita Hat Works in Wichita, Kansas
  2. Prairie Past Times Antiques & Crafts in Cottonwood Falls, Kansas

You can contact these gallery stores directly and see what they still have in stock. They will ship to you if you buy something. If you prefer, you can also email me, as I keep fairly current on what is “unsold.”

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – -

Background: My Cane Making Story:

I enjoy sculpting walking canes. Some folks call them Folk-Art Canes, while others call them Artisan Canes, some call them Carved Canes, while others call them Walking Sticks. There is quite a bit of argument about whether something should be called Sculpture or Carving. They could be considered Functional-Art, which is the type of work that I am usually drawn to. No matter what these canes are called, they seem to bring joy to the owners, and I have been asked to make quite a few of them in the past 5-6 years.

I started making canes on the request of a nice married couple I met on a church-building short-term mission trip to Mexico City in the early 1990’s. Several years after our trip, their son-in-law was diagnosed with bone cancer, and so they wanted to get him a specially made cane that he would enjoy using. They had heard from others that I had quit my corporate office job and started doing woodworking full-time. So, they contacted me to make his cane.

Click for details

Sadly, I also built him a casket, another first for me, about a year later

Click for details

Since the time I did that first Cane for Bryan, I have enjoyed the work on the canes that I have been able to make, but more importantly, the people that I have been able to meet and help along the journey. I do make a bunch of unique items and furniture, but without a doubt, I receive more correspondence and thank-you cards from cane customers than any of the other items I make, combined. So, they are fun for me to build, and I look forward to each new person and situation.

To keep a handle on all of the memories, I engrave a small serial number on each brass cane tip, and then I keep a detailed database log of each cane, customer, and situation. The list always brings me warm memories each time I scan it and remember the folks that have supported my work over the years, and vice versa.


Still Want to See more of my work?

Start with each of these links, and they will take you to other organized lists of my other niche products:

  1. Custom Knives
  2. Custom Art-Furniture I've Built
  3. Artisan Hat Making Tools

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

15 comments so far

View JoeinGa's profile


7741 posts in 2483 days

#1 posted 08-14-2013 09:26 PM

Beautiful cane. I’m sure the retiree will cherish it. I also enjoyed reading your story about Bryan, touched my heart.

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View cathyb's profile


839 posts in 3720 days

#2 posted 08-14-2013 09:46 PM

Let me first say that Amazing Grace is a hymn with special importance to me. When my amazing neighbor Grace died last year, I cried the whole time it was sung at her memorial service. Her license plate was “Amazing”.
You could have taken a plank of wood that you found in a dump and etched those lyrics and I would be deeply touched. Instead you made another mind blowing walking stick that is AMAZING in every way.
That makes my day. Thank you for your wonderful skills and kind heart. Aloha…....

-- cathyb, Hawaii,

View Karson's profile


35197 posts in 4876 days

#3 posted 08-14-2013 10:00 PM

Mark: A beautiful can and a fantastic tribute to a cherished employee.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View bygrace's profile


198 posts in 2445 days

#4 posted 08-14-2013 10:01 PM

Thank you for presenting the truth and bringing hope in such a beautiful way. I always admire your work and am glad you acknowledge Him in what you do. Beautiful.

-- Andy, Waxahachie, Tx.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

23182 posts in 3581 days

#5 posted 08-15-2013 12:59 AM

That sure is a beauty!!

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3166 days

#6 posted 08-15-2013 02:08 AM

Mark, Another beautiful project from your talented hands. And the fact that you added a verse from the greatest song ever written makes it even more special.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3374 posts in 4188 days

#7 posted 08-15-2013 02:16 AM


It is wonderful that the CEO gave you such liberty with the design. The cane should be very cherished.


-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View pastorglen's profile


267 posts in 3166 days

#8 posted 08-15-2013 02:41 AM

WOW!! That is AMAZING! Very nice work! Very nice detail.

-- Glen, Pennsylvania, Colossians 3:23 "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men."

View Napaman's profile


5530 posts in 4553 days

#9 posted 08-15-2013 04:23 AM

very cool cane!

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View Yussef's profile


33 posts in 2903 days

#10 posted 08-15-2013 06:19 AM

Good to see your work again. Always creative.

-- Yussef, Philadelphia,

View bowtie's profile


990 posts in 2822 days

#11 posted 08-15-2013 11:41 AM

amazing cane, thanks for sharing

-- bowtie,.....jus passin thru....

View mpounders's profile


933 posts in 3371 days

#12 posted 08-15-2013 01:26 PM

This is a lot more artistic than your bandsaw-mill! I’m glad to see more of your canes and I liked your Etsy shop too.

-- Mike P., Arkansas,

View Spoontaneous's profile


1337 posts in 3806 days

#13 posted 08-15-2013 01:49 PM

This is totally awesome… top to tip.

-- I just got done cutting three boards and all four of them were too short. (true story)

View Woodbridge's profile


3691 posts in 2894 days

#14 posted 08-15-2013 05:19 PM

Mark, beautiful work. That is a lovely cane. You are a fabulous craftsman and artisan. That is evident in all the great project you have shared with us. You are also a wonderfully gifted story teller and I enjoy reading your posts as much as I do seeing your projects.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View Roger's profile


21010 posts in 3280 days

#15 posted 08-17-2013 12:53 PM

Very slick. I like the cane holder also

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

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