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How to Finish a Walking Stick

Use a solvent-based polyurethane to finish your walking stick.
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A walking stick is a staff used to aid balance while walking. Walking sticks come in an array of shapes and sizes and are often targeted by collectors. If left unfinished, wooden walking sticks will lose their natural color and may warp. You can add beauty to your walking stick and prolong the life of the wood by applying a petroleum-based finish.

Things You'll Need:

  • Canvas Drop Cloth
  • 140-Grit Sandpaper
  • 50-Grit Sandpaper
  • Mineral Spirits
  • Shop Rags
  • Solvent-Based Polyurethane
  • Gel Oil Stain
  • 90-Grit Sandpaper
  • 2-Inch Natural-Bristled Paintbrush

Sand the walking stick with 50-grit sandpaper. Push the sandpaper toward the grain of the wood or the staff may splinter.

Sand the walking stick twice more, first using 90-grit sandpaper, then using 140-grit.

Wipe down the entire staff, using a shop rag dampened with fresh, clean mineral spirits solvent. Place the walking stick on top of a canvas drop cloth, and wait 20 to 30 minutes for the solvent to evaporate.

Brush a thin coat of oil-based gel stain onto your walking stick. Don't spread the stain using a synthetic paintbrush; use one with natural bristles.

Wait three to five minutes. Wipe all of the stain from the walking stick, using clean shop rags. Let the staff dry for four hours.

Wash your brush at least three times, using clean mineral spirits solvent.

Apply two fine coats of solvent-based polyurethane to the walking stick, using the cleaned natural brush. For best results, brush in the direction of the staff's wood grain. Wait two hours between each coat of poly.


  • You also can finish your walking stick with a liquid oil-based stain. However, if the staff is made of hardwood, the finish may dry unevenly. Ensure an attractive, uniform finish by using a gel stain that will provide even color to all types of wood.
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