Monday, May 23, 2011


Mrs. Hotel has been after me for some time now to get her an skinny aspen log to use as a curtain rod in our house.  I say this in the most respectful manner possible, but.....whatever.  She's done a great job at making our house a home, but I'm a typical male and would gladly live in a tee pee full of mice.  No big deal.  Sunday, sick as I was, I got the urge to skin an aspen.  I tried about three weeks ago and the juices were not flowing well enough yet.  I started with a branch and did the same thing I'm about to show you on a smaller scale.  I call it the test branch.

In the spring, when the water is flowing and the greenery is sprouting is the best time to do this.  You can make lots of things (stair railing, curtain rod), but today I'm beginning a walking stick.  Do I need a walking stick?  No.  Do I want one?  Yes.  Didn't I just say I was making Mrs. Hotel a curtain rod?  Yes.  Did she change her mind and want to use branches for a pot rack?  Yes.  So back to the walking stick.

I took the handy-dandy Silky 180 folding saw up to the stretch of woods in back of our house and found the straightest aspen in the grove.  For those of you just tuning in, finding straight wood in my neck of the woods isn't always easy.  I think it may be a (lack of) moisture thing.

 Here it is on the deck.  My wife loves it when I make a huge mess on the deck.  I tell her that I'm always happy to make messes for her.

 I stripped the buds and fed them to Sunny the Bunny.  He eats them up like fruity pebbles.

 I score the bark and make an upside down T for where I want the section to end.  I try to get as far through the bark as I can without hitting the actual wood of the tree.

 Then I use my knife to pry a bit of the bark away from the wood.
 It is very moist inside.  Do this with clean hands or your wood will end up all shwaggy looking.

 I slide the knife down through the skin.  It really is like skin.  Imagine skinning an animal and trying not to cut into the abdominal cavity.  Same applies here.  You don't want to knick the wood.

 Here I'm using my fingers to get in between the bark and the wood.

 See that little green stuff on top of this knot?  Scrape it off with your finger nail or knife.  It turns gray quickly and makes your wood not-so-pretty.

Here is the end product. The best part of this method is that the end result is silky smooth.  No need for sanding.  I could probably make two staffs out of this one.  Not sure where I'll go with it.  Stay tuned.

Pax Domini Sit Semper Vobiscum,

Mike, Oscar, Hotel......out.


  1. I'm sure you're thinking only of walking, but I've always thought it would be best to have a somewhat shorter than average staff in each hand. That way, if defense were required, one could be used to poke and parry while the other was used as a club.

  2. I agree with Gorges, and would add that a walking stick comes in handy for many things. I use mine for a digging stick, a hat rack, and for moving thorny plants from my path. Also, people tend to call in their unleashed dogs when they see a sturdy walking stick in my hand.

    Wonderful Whittlin'