Canes and Walking Sticks

The Basic Joinery Used In Cane Carving

By L.S. Irish

Shown with three rosewood spacers between the handle and staff.

You will need:

  • 5″ to 6″ of 3/8″ thick steel All Thread
  • Epoxy Glue (Slow Set)
  • Acetone or Lacquer Thinner
  • Fiber Packing Tape

Before you ever pick up a carving knife for either the handle or staff you will want to drill the holes for your joint. You need to drill a 1/2″ hole into your handle approximately 2″ deep. Some carvings will not allow for this much depth as in our example above. Here measure the depth of your carving blank and subtract 1/2″ to allow for the carving details. Use a stop gauge on your drill bit that fits your final measurement.

Slip a dowel marking pin into the hole in the handle. Now align your handle with the staff and press firmly to mark where your will be drilling into the staff. Drill a hole approximately 4 1/2″ deep into the staff.

When you carve your handle and create your staff allow extra wood in the joining area. After the cane is completely glued you can dress this join area down for a smooth even feel.

Once your handle is carved you will be ready to attach it to the staff. This the “weakest” point in your cane so special attention is needed to create a strong, lasting joint. Don’t scrimp on the All Thread!


Quick Note: The are two different products at the hardware store with similar names. We are using All Thread which is a solid steel rod obtainable from 1/4″ diameter to 1″ diameters.

Also available is “Thread All” or “Threaded Rod”. This is a hollow threaded tube used in lamp construction. The hollow allows for the electric cord to be insert through the rod. “Thread All” does not provide enough strength for cane joinery.


Clean the All Thread with acetone or lacquer thinner to remove any oils or varnish on the steel, this will give a stronger glue joint.

Note that your drilled hole is 1/8″ larger than the thread all rod. This allows for air to escape when gluing, avoiding air pockets within the drilled column. It will also allow you a little play in the alignment of the two pieces.

Set the staff into a vice clamp for easy working.

Next, mix your two part epoxy glue. Roll the All Thread into the epoxy then walk in down into the drilled hole in the staff. About two thirds of the All Thread goes into the staff area.

Now coat the remaining All Thread with epoxy and walk the handle down into place. Some epoxy should ease onto the wood area of the joint. Any glue on the outside of the cane can be quickly removed with the lacquer thinner.

Clamping can be tricky!! Experiment first, before gluing!

Here is one way to clamp.

Pull a very long strip of fiber packing tape from the roll. In the center area of the tape on the sticky side place a second piece of tape that is about twice the length of your carved handle, stick side to sticky side. This second piece of tape is used to protect your carving details.

Lay the center of the tape over the handle and pull the ends along the side of your staff. Next pull a piece of tape and wrap it around the ends of the first piece on the staff. You have just made a “quick clamp” to keep everything firmly together until the epoxy sets.

Let the glue set for twenty four hours.

Now you are ready to dress down the join and begin your finishing process.

Click here for a printable free pattern of our dragon cane topper.

Introduction to Cane Carving
The Basic Construction Used In Cane Carving
The Basic Joinery Used In Cane Carving
Adding a Leather String Grip to your Cane Carving

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