A1 sticks

Finished sticks and stick supplies - blanks for you to finish, namely hazel and blackthorn

Straightening is my particular skill which I perfected making cane furniture all those years ago. You know in years to come when I have passed on, if my name occurs in conversation, I won't be noted for my piercing wit, elegant dress sense or sporting flair but "by golly he could straighten a stick" - that will be my epitaph. Woodworm, sadly, if present don't wake up from their first and last sauna treatment in the steamer.

I have a love/hate relationship with stick hunting, joy comes with spotting a beautiful stem or shank arising cleanly from a sturdy root or branch. Misery from spending too much time in the most dismal, derelict copses and thickets in foul weather.

There is no way I am ever going to use all the sticks I cut so I may as well start passing them on.

My experience of mail order has taught me the importance of accurate adverts, swift deliveries and good packing rest assured.

Incidently I would love to recieve photos via email of my blanks you have transformed into a work of art/craft.

Payment - cheque/PO or PayPal (add 4%)

Happy Whittling,

Regards

Andy Basham

PLEASE NOTE - COPPICE DESIGNS



From November 2017 until further notice I am just running rustic furniture courses. I am not able to supply products such as walking sticks or blanks, scout staffs, beanpoles, hazel rods etc., in order to free myself up for larger projects.

To find an alternative local supplier go to www.coppice-products.co.uk

Apologies for any inconvenience caused.

ANDY BASHAM - OCTOBER 2017

A1 STICKS

Walking stick blanks for amateur or professional stick carvers.
Member of the British Stickmakers Guild No. 6755

 

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Payment - cheque/PO or PayPal (add 4%)

Perhaps you have seen examples of my seasoned stick blanks on eBay and now you have found your way direct to me - no middle man (eBay or PayPal).

Basically during the winter months I wish to sell on a quantity of my seasoned and straightened blanks/shanks, as although I sell my own sticks at country fairs etc, I harvest more than I sell, and wondered if you as a valued customer wish to receive details/photos of various batches of fully seasoned and professionally straightened shanks, blanks, thumbsticks etc of mostly hazel, blackthorn, ash, birch etc., perhaps once or twice a week? I already have a few regular customers and they appreciate the quantity of my stock and my swift service, not to mention good value, aided by the lack of middlemen.

walking sticks

Two piece sticks by Bill Care (see above), shanks courtesy of A1Sticks.

What I thought I’d try is emailing out to all my contacts a few photos of a mixed batch or5 or 10 or 20 along with a fixed price or ‘buy it now’, on a' first come first served basis', only via email. I will try to have another batch in the wings to give others a second chance.
You can pay by cheque, postal order, and cash even (at your risk). I am a trusting sort so don’t usually wait for cheques to clear (I will have your address). Paypal is also fine but you have to pay the fee (I think you can ‘gift’ funds to me but then you have no security, I know I’m trustworthy, its your choice).

Let me know if you have any specific requirements, say just long, heavy shanks and I will endeavor to make a batch for you only.

If you want to choose and collect sticks from my workshop you are welcome, but it is vital to make an appointment, my mobile is the best way to reach me.

If at any time you wish to stop receiving emails please let me know and I will unsubscribe you.

Quality

Every now and then I put up batches of seconds, not rejects exactly as usually they have been put to one side for very small faults or shall we say aesthetic reasons rubs, cracks, scars, scrapes, chips and dead worm holes. The fact that I put these seconds up for sale proves that my usual A1 batches are just that.

Why is blackthorn twice the price of hazel?

Because everything is times 2 with blackthorn, twice as hard to find, difficult and dangerous to cut. At least twice as long to season etc etc.

Look to the future

Want to purchase unseasoned, or partly seasoned or winter cut sticks? Anything is possible given a little notice. I can send you green or fresh cut stick blanks as they were cut in the dormant season, not straightened, but naturally straightish for less than half the price of seasoned / straightened. Eg. £20 for 10 X 1.5m hazel shanks. Invest now for the future, hazel shanks purchased in april could be good to use in october if kept somewhere warm and air, but not hot or sunny.

Do you need horn antlers, exotic foreign wood, ferrules, spacers, collars?

Well, sorry, all I do is sticks - it's what I do best.

The problem with blackthorn

I, like many, have a love/hate relationship with blackthorn, its mystique or charisma, makes up for all the effort. How many times have I spotted the perfect thorny shank only to have it snap in my hands as it was actually dead and brittle. All the others that look terrific on first glance, however on the blind side turn out to have gaping wounds left by hungry deer (a growing, serious problems for future stick suppliers). The places you find yourself in, especially tall, leggy thickets that are starting to lean over are very uncomfortable, have a god forsaken, desolate feeling. I had a nice moment once when a small flock of long tailed tits alighted all around me, feeding on the microscopic grubs and mites in between the thorns - magical! If I have hit a hot spot and I am there for a while the local robin comes over and cheers me up, I disturb the ground a bit so he can find a bite.

Where are the best places are the best places to find blackthorn?

I'll tell you when I'm in a wheel chair, in the mean time, just get out there and take a look.

Seasoning blackthorn

Being so dense and moist when cut, blackthorn takes years to season. After pressure washing the foul green slime off the bark and dirt from root knobs, when dry, I apply 'end seal' to the cut ends to slow the rate of drying help prevents splitting.

Endseal is wax held in suspension in liquid, lots of other stuff will probably do fine, even old paint, large splits will occur otherwise.

My sticks are laid flat on pallets in a stack in a very drafty dutch barn - after 3 or 4 years of this, I think they are as dry as they are going to get in this location. Moisture content is still around 20% as wood absorbs moisture from the air in damp conditions as well as losing it in arid times. They are treated with a weak solution of boron to guard against any wood boring insects, final steaming for straightening is a final solution to anything that gets through. The steam bath removes the boron treatment, however, so they are then no longer protected until finished with oil or wax, etc.

Its the different rates at which wood shrinks in different directions that is the cause of cracking- the larger the section of wood, say the end of a block (the branch that a shoot may have arisen from) the more stress and likelihood of splitting as the wood shrinks more laterally than it does radially.

The upshot of all this is to be very careful about exposing the end grain of cut blocks to warm, dry air, especially with haird dense woods like blackthorn and holly etc, keep the end grain covered with wax or paint and give it time to slowly shrink. If it dries quickly it will split even if it was cut thirty years ago (30 year old blocks will likewise split if taken from an unheated barn into a warm workshop).

Why worry?

Nobody seems to mind huge splits in oak beams that you can get your hand. Its silly of us to expect seamless perfection from a natural material, yes they can even add the character of a finished piece.

I fill my splits/cracks with plastic wood covered with a dark hard wax then finished with danish oil then wax on top. Others use hard wood filler and stain it appropriately, some use two part epoxy resin mixed with sawdust, I have heard, some add brass and copper filling for a stunning effect. Something I have not tried but may work with a part finish block / root handle is before final rubbing down, immerse the end in hot linseed oil and let it cool overnight for maximum penetration and protection. Beware hot oil!

New to stick making?

There are several good books out there on well known internet booksellers lists, Stickmaking Handbook by Jones and George is a recent good one.

I specialise in whole or one-piece sticks, so if you see me on my stand at a country fair I'll be happy to talk sticks but I'm no expert with regards joining antler and horn etc. Though one day I will have a go.

I do teach the basics of one piece stickmaking at my workshop, like to come to a stick making course?

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CONTACT COPPICE DESIGNS

Please email me direct with your requirements, including thickness and length, and I will get back to you within a day or two with a quote.

 

Email info@coppicedesigns.co.uk