A FEW ADVICES HOW TO MAKE A RIGHT WALKING CANE CHOICE
In general somebody using a walking cane / walking stick might want not
only a physical support, but some level of decorative and aesthetic values as well.
That is why for many centuries the walking sticks have captured the attention of
artists and jewelers. Nevertheless, thinking about aesthetics of the walking cane / walking stick
one should not forget about the comfort, physical stability, and security the walking
stick should provide in the first place.
CANE HANDLE COMFORT ABILITY
The comfort of the WS depends mainly on the handle shape. The types of the walking
stick handles such as Derby, L-shape, and Crook while looking elegant are comfortable
for a daily use. The knob handles are recommended for a light support and balance.
Traditional handles may be designed as a sculpture or decorated
by some kind of ornament. In these cases a designer has to make sure that the handle
does not loose its major properties – comfort and stability. The walking sticks
handles designed in the form of a sculpture or decorated by some other means very
often, besides their direct use as the support during walking, are considered the
art subjects and as such are often the collectors’ items.
MATERIALS, BALANCE, STRENGTH OF THE STICK
The right balance is a very important property of the walking stick. In order to
achieve the right balance the weight of the handle shall be somewhat less or equal
to the weight of the shaft. For that the high-end artisan walking sticks are usually
equipped with a cast metal rather than a stamped (punched out) handle.
The cast metal handles have the following advantages compared with the stamped handles:
The wall thickness of the cast handles varies between 2
and 5 mm ( 5/64” to 3/16 “), while the stamped handles wall thickness is usually
on the level of 0.3 to 0.5 mm, or approximately ten times thinner than the cast
handle. This compromises the strength and reliability of the walking stick with
the stamped handle.
Because of the thin walls of the stamped handles they are
prone to dents and nicks during normal handling.
The cast metal technology does not limit the designer’s
fantasy and ability to create complex art forms.
It has to be noted here that cast metal technology is much
more sophisticated and time consuming, and it requires much higher skills as well.
The next subject consumer has to pay attention to is the material of the cane construction.
The most popular materials used for handles are Silver and German Silver. German
Silver is an alloy of 70% copper with 30% nickel and no silver. The Sterling Silver,
which is an alloy of 92.5% silver with 7.5% copper, is the preferred material for
the handles construction because, thanks to the copper addition, it is much stronger
than Pure Silver. Sometime canes might be advertised as silver handle walking sticks,
which might be deceiving, because this often does not mean that the handle is silver
made. Instead the seller might have in mined one of the following materials:
Silver plated handle when a thin layer of silver is plated
over some base metal or even plastic
Alpaca Silver, which is an alloy imitating the silver
German Silver, which is alloy with no silver added, etc.
Each item made of the real silver or silver alloy (like sterling silver) must have
the following marks stamped out:
Pure Silver - ( 0.999 )
Sterling Silver - ( 0.925 ), (STERLING) or (SS)
Russian Silver - ( 0.875 )
Old English Silver - ( 0.800 ) etc...
It is important to know, that such materials as German Silver, Nickel Silver, Alpaca
Silver are alloys only resembling the silver by the color. Unlike the pewter (another
material used for the stick handles), they can be polished very well, are strong
and can resemble the silver by the color. Nevertheless, these alloys do not contain
any silver at all.
Above we discussed the importance of the balance and the role the handle plays in
achieving it. We said that the handle must be either slightly less or equal by the
weight to the shaft. Here we will discuss the role of the shaft in achieving the
right balance of the walking stick. While the handle has to be close by the weight
to the entire shaft, it is important that the lower end of the shaft is as light
That would provide lighter load on the forearm muscles during walking and, particularly
at the moment the stick loses the contact with the ground. At the same time the
upper part of the shaft should be thick enough to provide the strength. Thus, the
shaft should be tapered. It would be even better if the taper starts close to the
center of the shaft going to the end. This makes the walking stick not only well
balanced but proportionally looking as well. Because the shaft in the main part
is responsible for the strength of the stick, the material used for its construction
is very important. The shaft of 7/8” diameter made of extreme woods (such as ebony,
ironwood, etc.) will withstand the same load as 1 ¼” diameter stick made of a hardwood
(oak, maple, etc.), and will look more elegant as well.
If the shaft is made from the hardwood it is usually painted to change the light
natural color of the wood. The paint is often chips off due to the wear and tear.
The extreme woods, on the other hand do not need to be painted providing beautiful
natural colors. The colors the extreme woods provide are as follows:
Ebony, African Blackwood
Dark brown color
The lower end of the shaft shall be furnished with a metal ferrule, which in addition
to providing finished look prevents the end of the cane from splitting. It is advisable
as well to have a rubber tip placed over the ferrule to prevent slipping.
The length of the stick depends on the height of the walker. I can recommend
two simple methods for the stick length selection: