Carved Walking Stick

Here is unique and simple way to make a carved walking stick without using wood carving tools. It is so easy, even kids can do this.

Age: 10+ Kids will need help cutting and peeling the branch.

Difficulty: Easy

Time Scale: 3 out of 5



  • dry branch that is one inch in diameter and at least 43 inches long
  • sharp knife to peel bark off branch
  • celluclay
  • container for mixing clay
  • clay sculpting tools
  • 120 grit sandpaper
  • craft paint:
  • buttercream
  • honey brown
  • burnt umber
  • Black
  • urethane

Carving into wood to make a carved walking stick can be difficult and time consuming. It requires carving tools that can be very sharp and expensive. If you carve out too much wood, you can't put it back.

Here is an easier alternative for carving a walking stick. Instead of carving directly into the wood, air dry clay is added to the stick and that is carved into. If you make a mistake, or carve out too much, just add more clay and continue on.

Since I don't really know how well this will stand up for use as an actual walking stick, it would probably work better as a decorative piece. With a few coats of urethane it would probably hold up quite well, but it is never going to be as strong as real wood.

I would say that I plan on testing this out, but I don't need to use a walking stick, so this may require waiting a few years. When I find it necessary to use one, I will report back. Mine will remain a decorative piece for now.

Carved Walking Stick How To:

To make your carved walking stick, start with a dry branch that is at least one inch in diameter. Using a sharp knife, peel off the bark from the top to about 14 inches down.

Fill a large yogurt container about 3/4's full with celluclay. Break up the lumps by rubbing it between your thumb and fingers. Add water and mix to make the clay. It should be smooth, and not too sticky. You can put some cold cream on your hands to keep it from sticking.

Cover the area on the stick that you peeled the bark off of with about a quarter inch thick layer of the celluclay. Make sure to keep the remainder of the clay in a sealed ziplock bag to keep it from drying out.

With a sculpting tool, start to shape a face about 5 inches down from the top of the stick, by carving off some of the clay.

Make a hairline, beard and mustache around the face outline. Shape the eyes, nose and cheeks. If you want to find out more, check out the sculpting porportions page.

Keep shaping the face by removing bits of clay in the same fashion as you would if you were carving away wood. Carving away the clay is much easier though!

Smooth by dipping your fingers in water and then running them over the the sculpted area.


Use a pointed sculpting tool or your fingernail to clean up the lines that you have made in the celluclay. If the nose seems a little too flat, add a bit of clay to build it up a bit.

Add wrinkles around the eyes and on the rest of the face to add character. Make a hole for a mouth.

If the face isn't looking quite right and you don't know why, try turning it upside down and looking at it or holding it up to a mirror. This gives you a different perspective and if the face isn't symetrical you will be able to see it, when you couldn't before.

Need to take a break from making your carved walking stick, and come back later to finish it off? Wrap the clay part of the stick with a wet paper towel and cover with plastic wrap. Wrapping only in plastic wrap will not keep the clay moist enough for an extended period of time. The wood will wick the moisture away from the clay.

I left my project for a couple days, only wrapped in plastic wrap and it started to dry. Trying to carve into the celluclay when it is partially dried does not work well. The clay just wants to ball up. It then is better to completely dry the clay to finish the carving. If there isn't much left to do on it, then it isn't a big problem to do this. It is easier though to complete the sculpting, while the clay is still wet.

After you are finished shaping your carved waking stick, let it dry. This will probably need to be left overnight, to completely dry.

Sand with 120 grit sand paper. Don't sand too much. Try to fold the sandpaper and get into the grooves that you have carved, to get out any lumps and bumps. When you are done sanding, wipe down with a cloth to remove the dust.

Base coat the celluclay part of the carved walking stick with buttercream craft paint. (an off white). Don't paint the bark. When this is dry, paint on a honey brown color. With a slightly damp paper towel, wipe some of this paint off. After it has dried, paint on slightly watered down brown paint. Get it down into the carved lines. Now wipe some of this off. Adjust the colors to your liking. This should now be looking more like it is wood and not celluclay.


When it is dry you can paint again, this time with watered down black paint. Only do a small amount of the black, in a few random places. Wipe most of this off, leaving only a bit, in some of the carved areas.

The colors that are painted on, should blend well with the natural colors of the stick you used. It is okay for them to be lighter though, than the unpeeled bark on the wood.

After the paint is completely dry, cover the entire carved walking stick with three coats of urethane.

Now, don't you agree that this is so much easier, than actually carving wood?

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