Buying a cane is rather simple, but a unique and rewarding challenge is to make one at home! Homemade canes- and the process by which they’re made- aren’t for everyone, but seniors who love to work with their hands will enjoy learning how to make a homemade cane in this guide!
This guide is meant to act as an overview of the process of making a cane at home. Rather than dive deep into the minutiae of each step, we will include links to YouTube videos and craft/woodworking articles for steps that are more technical in nature.
If you need more direction or inspiration on a specific step while making your cane, click on one of the links to get a little more in-depth!
Materials Needed to Make a Homemade Cane
Tools Needed to Make a Homemade Cane
Depending on how you design and construct your cane, you will need some or all of the following tools:
How to Make a Homemade Cane in 7 Steps
Before we start, it’s necessary to mention that there are many different paths you can take to making a cane; not everyone has to follow all these steps entirely. For instance, if you order a custom-made cane handle because you lack the tools to make one yourself, you need only worry about the shaft and can ignore parts of this list.
Additionally, you can make a cane handle out of materials other than wood. We’re using wood in this guide because it’s the most accessible and easiest to work with. If you’re an accomplished metal worker, own a 3D printer, or have other tools for creating a cane handle, you should feel free to use your skills to the best of your ability! With that said, let’s make a homemade cane:
If you want your cane to be as functional as it is stylish, you have to measure yourself before you do anything else. There are two measurements you should take; using a yardstick or measuring tape is the easiest.
The first measurement is the height of your hand when your arms are held at your side with your elbow bent at a 15-degree angle. This is the proper position for holding a cane, so you need to make sure you know what cane height will fit your body.
The second measurement confirms the accuracy of the first measurement. Stand straight with your arms at your side and measure the length between the floor and your wrist. If you get two different numbers for these measurements, that’s okay. If, however, the two numbers are more than 1.5 inches apart, you need to measure again to make sure that your cane will fit your body.
Design Your Cane
Now that you know what size cane you need, it’s time to get thinking. What material would you like to use for the shaft? What type of handle do you want- and will you be able to make that yourself or would you have to have it commissioned? Answering these questions guides the cane-making process from here on out.
Buy/Make a Cane Shaft
The easiest way to make a cane shaft is to head to a hardware store and get a 1-inch diameter wooden dowel rod that is about 4 feet long so that you can shorten it appropriately. You don’t have to worry too much about the measurements being perfect if you’re making a cane with a wooden shaft; if you test it and it’s too tall, you can simply cut it to length.
During this stage, because it’s hard to estimate the size of the cane handle until you finish it, it’s best to leave the shaft about 6 inches longer than you measured until you are able to test it, in case you have to cut it down.
If common woods aren’t to your liking, you can head to a lumber yard to get a length of high-quality wood like cherry, walnut, or birch that will be more luxurious and sophisticated than pine. If you go this route, you’ll have to shape the wood with woodworking tools or turn it with a lathe- learn how to use a lathe here.
You can also order an aluminum or carbon fiber rod to create the staff. The best place to do that is here on Amazon for carbon fiber and here for aluminum. These materials are lighter and simultaneously stronger than wood, but they’re also much more expensive.
The ideal thickness of a cane shaft is one inch; it’s enough that the shaft will be sturdy but not so much that it starts to become heavy and unappealing.
Polishing/Painting the Shaft
If you’ve got a specific color in mind, use acrylic paint to create a smooth, thin, and glossy layer of paint over the shaft of your homemade cane.
Create, Buy, or Commission the Handle
When it comes to the cane’s handle, you have two choices: make it yourself, or commission it. If you’re skilled with your hands, you can carve a wonderful handle using woodworking tools and a block of wood.
Install a Screw and Well Nut or Dowel
Now that you have both parts of your cane finished, it’s time to join them! There are two ways to do this (if the shaft and handle of your cane do not already have a piece that lets you connect them):
- 1Drill a hole in both the shaft and handle using a dowel jig, making sure that the holes are completely centered. Then, insert a dowel (a small piece of round wood usually included with the jig) into the hole with a bit of wood glue on each end. Attach the cane handle to the shaft and give it about 18 hours to dry. To learn how to use a dowel jig, check out this video tutorial.
- 2Drill a hole in both the cane handle and shaft, making sure that both holes are centered. Use a mallet to tap the threaded nut into the shaft, with a bit of glue to keep it secure. Repeat this with the screw and the cane handle. When the glue has dried, you will be able to screw the two pieces together perfectly! This video tutorial will teach you how to complete this step.
Test Your Cane
Now that you’ve gotten your cane almost entirely assembled, it’s time to test it out. Hold the cane in your hand, standing straight up. If your elbow is bent at a 15-degree angle, it’s the perfect length. If not, you may have to shorten it a bit or (much worse) make a new shaft that is longer.
If the shaft is too long, use your measurements from step one to cut your cane down to the appropriate length. It will be much easier to shorten the cane now that the handle has been attached- that’s why it’s important to wait until you test the cane to cut it!
Add the Foot/Point
The bottom of your handmade cane is, so far, bare. You need to cover it with something that will accomplish two things: keeping the cane from getting damaged, and providing more traction than wood or aluminum alone would.
The simplest and most effective way to finish off your cane is to cover it with a one-inch rubber cap made for furniture feet. It will fit snugly and keep your can from slipping or getting damaged; it’s an inexpensive and ideal way to complete your homemade cane!
Conclusion: Making Homemade Canes
Making your own cane can be as labor-intensive or simple as you choose. It’s a fun and engaging way to spend some time getting your hands dirty and creating something out of nothing. And, the finished product will be something that you’re proud to show off when you’re out and about using it! What’s your plan for making your own cane? Have you made one in the past? Leave your thoughts and comments in the box below!