Custom Cane #148: Ironwood, Gabon Ebony, Padauk, Rosewood [Starry Night Cane]

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Project by mmh posted 02-22-2014 06:26 AM 5789 views 6 times favorited 25 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This cane is made of an exquisite piece of ironwood from Arizona. There are different types of ironwood and I suspect that not only was this tree a slow growing hardwood that endured many decades of extremely high temperature and arid conditions, but also that the tree may have been partially petrified after it died. I do not know the true age of this wood, but it could be well over several hundred years old.

This wood is very dense and splintered and is usually plagued with internal cracks and voids, some that look as if the wood has burn marks along with absorbed minerals. This makes it difficult to acquire a decent size of stock to work with. I usually have to study numerous pieces and try to determine what the grain is like and if there are damage issues in the wood.

It is difficult to cut a flat, square surface in wood that is anything but flat to get the dimension of wood that you want to work with without wasting a lot of the material. Originally I was cutting this handle in a completely different direction and trimming the edge to create a flat surface so that I could joint at least two sides when I realized that I was trimming off some incredible burled grain streaked with some brilliant colors. Fortunately, the shape of this handle allowed me to revise the original cut and salvage a piece large enough to make this handle.

This is a “reversed” handle that has the user point the nose outward and lean their palm on the thicker side with their weight supported directly over the shaft. The nose can be thinner than usual and the hand can rock the handle and swing the cane shaft out forward, allowing for a more fluid motion and faster pace. Even if used for a slow pace, the movement is much swifter and less inhibiting than if the cane were held in the opposite, traditional manner of the nose pointing towards the user.

The pattern of the handle resembles Vincent van Gogh's Starry Night and the incredible colors are quite brilliant, yet very organic and is quite mesmerizing.

The collars are of ironwood, Gabon Ebony and Padauk and the shaft is made from solid Rosewood.

Comments and inquires welcome. Please visit Big Stick Canes for more of my work or Canes for Sale

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

25 comments so far

View Druid's profile


2205 posts in 3566 days

#1 posted 02-22-2014 06:40 AM

Beautiful work Michael. Actually, the “reversed” handle, and the slope is one of the recommendations being used in my area for people to be able to use a cane more comfortably. Nicely done.

-- John, British Columbia, Canada

View Vince's profile


1259 posts in 4199 days

#2 posted 02-22-2014 06:42 AM

Beautiful cane, did you make a tenon on the shaft to go through the handle or is that a separate dowel that goes through the handle into the shaft?

-- Vince

View mmh's profile


3680 posts in 4492 days

#3 posted 02-22-2014 07:13 AM

Druid: Thank you for the comments. I am glad to hear that others are also using the reverse handle concept, as I have not seen it otherwise practiced. [Alas, I have not been able to visit the UK outside of Heathrow.] FYI: My husband, Michael and I are making canes and we both have our own distinct designs but we enjoy sharing ideas, techniques and concepts. This one is my creation – Meilie

Vince: The shaft and visible tenon are of one piece. It is turned by my husband, and I requested that he not turn the collars so that I can create an asymmetrical collar to make a more fluid transition from handle to shaft.

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

View michelletwo's profile


2783 posts in 3786 days

#4 posted 02-22-2014 10:08 AM

as usual, it’s a great example of cane making and gorgeous woods.

View Benji Reyes's profile

Benji Reyes

339 posts in 3849 days

#5 posted 02-22-2014 10:36 AM

The discoveries we make when we cut wood to reveal it’s raw internal beauty adds inspiration to one’s creativity. it shows in your work Meilie. Beautiful!

-- Benji Reyes, Antipolo, Philippines, Instagram benji reyes

View Rafe Demers's profile

Rafe Demers

71 posts in 2755 days

#6 posted 02-22-2014 11:18 AM

Absolutely beautiful! I love the shape of the handle and the wood choices are a brilliant combination! I was curious on what you use for an adhesive to join the different species of wood. I found with tropical woods it can be difficult to keep a strong bond even with certain epoxies due to the oils in the stock. Any advice on what you are using?

-- Rafe Demers

View UncleStumpy's profile


741 posts in 3083 days

#7 posted 02-22-2014 12:21 PM

I like to make canes myself and all I have to say about this one is stunning!

-- "They don't want it perfect - they want it SPECIAL"

View oldrivers's profile


2194 posts in 2337 days

#8 posted 02-22-2014 01:52 PM

Exquisite ! I never saw such beautiful Iron wood. I am familiar with the eastern Iron wood I know it is HEAVY and HARD. This is a master piece.

-- Soli Deo gloria!

View mmh's profile


3680 posts in 4492 days

#9 posted 02-22-2014 03:19 PM

Rafe: I’ve tried various wood glues including epoxy. I do not like the Gorilla glue that bubbles and foams up when you add moisture as instructed, as I understand they want the wood cells to swell up with the glue, but the joint becomes riddled with open cell type holes that are not what is wanted in a tight joint that is readily visible such as a cane. Furniture may be a more appropriate use for this type of glue. [FYI: This glue is extremely dangerous around pets, especially hungry dogs, as my neighbor’s puppy got hold of a bottle and it foamed up in his stomach and emergency surgery was needed to save his life. They now have a perfect mold of his stomach.]

To give more integrity to the joinery, the visible tenon and wedge will help insure that this piece does not move. A small percentage of shrinkage and swelling may occur, but the wedge should still hold quite well.

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

View Roger's profile


21030 posts in 3574 days

#10 posted 02-22-2014 03:51 PM

This is a real beauty. I’d like to lean on this one.

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

View lew's profile


13114 posts in 4526 days

#11 posted 02-22-2014 04:21 PM

That handle is absolutely stunning, Meilie! “Vincent” should be thrilled at your comparison.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View jroot's profile


295 posts in 1993 days

#12 posted 02-22-2014 05:45 PM

Beautiful. I love the use of the various exotic woods. Well done ... from a guy who used to make walking sticks.

-- jroot

View Druid's profile


2205 posts in 3566 days

#13 posted 02-22-2014 06:01 PM

Hi Meilie, sorry about giving the credit to the wrong person. Glad to see so many positive comments. What type of finish did you use?

-- John, British Columbia, Canada

View Northwest29's profile


1700 posts in 3261 days

#14 posted 02-22-2014 08:06 PM

Absolutely gorgeous, almost to pretty to use. Excellent craftsmanship and beautifully matching woods! On average how long does it take you to create one of these master pieces?

-- Ron, "Curiosity is a terrible thing to waste."

View tomakazi's profile


686 posts in 4053 days

#15 posted 02-22-2014 08:14 PM

I love these canes you make! Im going to read your blogs, I would like to make a few of these.

-- I didn't go to college, I was too busy learning stuff - Ted Nugent

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