DIY Hardwood Hiking Staff

Our family walks often, usually in the woods near our house or north of our town.  I had been thinking for some time that it would be nice to have a hiking staff but am not a fan of newfangled hiking gear.  In fact, I was not interested in any metal poles but wanted something made of wood.  Hardwood preferably, so it could take a bit of abuse.  Here’s how I put together my own.

The Wood and Handle

I shopped for wooden hiking poles but found either very expensive ones or ones that I wasn’t sure were hardwood.  In the end, I selected an ash wood handle used for floor brooms and mops.  At 5 feet long and C$10, it fit my requirements for materials and price.  I liked the metal ferrule at the end – that normally screws in to a mop or broom – so that I wouldn’t have to cap the end of the pole that strikes the ground.

Now that I had the handle, I wanted to have a handle to grip at the top.  The handle was nicely varnished so I could have gone without.  However, I thought it would be useful to have the handle double as a utility rope, so I bought 50 feet of paracord for about $10.  Now, if I need it, I have some rope available whenever I go for a hike.

Make the Hiking Staff

The first step was to lop off the end of the ferrule.  You could leave it but I didn’t think it was very sightly so I sawed it off.  However, I kept the metal that rounded the end of the pole so as to protect it from being bashed.

hiking-staff-metal-end-after-ferrule-cut-off

You can see scuffing around the end as the pole has been used now (on a 6 kilometer hike in the fall).  I used a standard hacksaw to saw through the metal end.

The handle required a bit more planning and I’m not sure I have it entirely sorted out.  I drilled a hole in the handle about 8 inches from the top, the width of the hole being just wide enough for the paracord to go through.  I then made a loop for a handle, tied with a bowline, and passed the rest of the cord through the handle.

hiking-staff-paracord-handle

I then wrapped the 50 feet of paracord up to the top, then back down below the hole, about 6 inches, and back up to the top again.  I tied it off in a knot at the top.  I’d considered trying to thread the end under the top but found it more fiddly than I cared to mess with.

This held together well.  There was some twisting in the cord handle as we walked (I made 3, one for me and each of the boys) so I am thinking of unwinding them and putting something underneath to stop the cord turning.  Or I may leave it alone since it was probably more to do with the cord not being pulled tightly enough as it was wrapped.  Also, the first one we did was wrapped too closely to the top, so the cord loop came off; I would leave a quarter inch or so of wood at the top showing if I were to rewrap the cord.

Create Hurdles

We are migrating from a family of Irish dancers to ones with a broader set of pursuits.  Our eldest is a runner and is adding hurdles to the track events she wants to participate in.  Unfortunately, her school does not have any hurdles for her to practice on.  A small challenge.

She’s pretty resourceful and found something approximately the right size to try clearing but it’s really not the same.  There are a bunch of simple hurdle designs on the Web, built using PVC.  Some of them are for strength training, and aren’t meant to tip over as they do for runners.  In the end, I cobbled together my own design which created 28″ high hurdles while minimizing the parts I would need.

You can build one 28″ tall hurdle using a single 3/4″ PVC pipe 10 feet long.  This will set you back about $10.  You will also need 4 3/4″ PVC round corners, for the two legs and the top rail.  If you don’t already have one, pick up a hacksaw.

There are a variety of heights for hurdles.  These are the smallest.  There are also a variety of widths, ranging from 41″ to 44″ from what I can tell.  This hurdle is narrower than that, in order to keep to one piece of pipe.  To construct this one, I cut 5 lengths:

  • two feet:  17″ each
  • one cross bar:  34″
  • two legs:  26″ each
5 piece hurdle design using 3/4" PVC pipe
5 piece hurdle design using 3/4″ PVC pipe

The round corners are 1″ deep so, when you press the legs into the corners, the top and bottom surface adds 2″, bringing you to 28″ on the top.  Press the pipe ends into the appropriate corner.  You just need to get them started, then hold onto the corner and press the exposed pipe end against the floor to firmly seat it.  No glue required.  Be sure to twist the top corners perpendicular to the bottom, so that the cross bar connects properly between the two legs.

These will stand on their own but if you are using them on grass, they can be tippy.  I bought a couple of pipe caps (in a box at Lowe’s on the same shelf as the round corners) and will fill the two feet pipes with sand and then place caps on them.  You could even block up the legs first, to ensure the sand doesn’t shift if the hurdles are tipped.

If she continues to do hurdles, the height will increase.  At that point, I will pull the top two corners off and get rid of them and the cross piece.  In their place, I will buy a 1″ pipe (or a size that will slide over the 3/4″ pipe) and make two short, 12″ leg caps to connect to a new, larger cross piece.  I will drill 4 sets of holes in each of the leg caps and one in the current 3/4″ legs, at the top, so that the new leg caps + cross bar can be raised and lowered as necessary.  That should cover all possible hurdling levels for women in high school.