Tales of the stick.


Carl Levitian
July 7, 2008, 01:58 PM
Or, how it saved my butt.

I guess I could begin this with "once upon a time..." as it took place a few years ago, when I was still an old fart, but not as old a fart as I am today.

I've been a loyal sak user for most of my life, and my little classic on my key ring is so often used I made a little leather pouch sheath for it so I didn't have to detach it from my keyring to use. Just take hold of the keyring at the top of the handle sticking up out of the sheath, and pull out of sheath and open whatever blade I needed.

After some years of use, the front handle scale came off, and I glued it back on with Goop. Goop is the recomended glue on the sak forum to reattach scales with. Somehow the tweezers became lost so I needed a new tweezers. I knew there was a knife shop in Frederick that had a large display of saks and accsesories, so off I went.

Now downtown in old part of Frederick on Market street, there is a goodly share of strange street people. In recent years Frederick has changed alot, for the worst I'm aftraid. I found a parking place on one of the side streets and went and got my tweezers at the knife shop. The trip back to the car was not uneventfull.

Walking down the narrow brick sidewalk, I saw ahead of me three young punks of the troublesome type. They were sitting on a low wall that lined the sidewalk, and when they saw me coming in thier direction, they stood up and fanned out across the sidewalk blocking my path. The one in the middle that spoke English asked me if I had any money.

This was a loose/loose situation.

I was not about to take out my wallet, nor was I inclined to give them anything. I don't respond well to this kind of thing. I changed my grip on my blackthorn down a couple inches from the root knob handle. One of the benifits of being documented as 50% disabled by the V.A. is if I clobber some malcontent with my stick, I have a documented use for it. If it got that far.

The change of grip on the stick did not go un-noticed by the three amigo's, and they got a little un-easy. I told them in a no nonsense voice to get out of my way, don't even think about it.

They moved.

Now three young guys against a senior citizen on social security, they could have taken me. I may have got in some good licks, one or two of them would have got hit. But in the end, they would have had me. One of them had a hand in his baggy pants pocket, so he may have had a knife.

But they didn't have guts to try.

They backed off from an old man with a knarled old blackthorn who was ready to start swinging.

If I were carryng a knife, and had to pull it out, would it have been as good?

I'm known by poeple who know me as a great enthusiast of the stick. Always in hand, goes everywhere. I even take it right past airline security when we travel.

Clint was right. "Sometimes there's nothing like a good piece of hickory."

exept maybe blackthorn.:D

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July 7, 2008, 04:45 PM
I believe I was in Frederick once when it housed the Civil War Medical Museum. :) I went to Antietam, Gettysburg and Harper's Ferry before heading back to the airport and hitting Frederick on the way. :)

But the stick gives you one thing a knife cannot - distance. I like that. I sould carry my cane more.

Dave McCracken
July 7, 2008, 05:26 PM
I just graduated to a cane from a walker. Had hip replacement surgery a month back. While my cane is a little lighter and shorter than the 48" riot baton I used during my state service was, the moves translate. I may keep one around after I return to full mobility.

While I do keep a good knife around and carry on occasion,a cane makes a lot of sense. Like Valkman said, a cane gives distance.

July 7, 2008, 05:32 PM
good for you carl, the only thing better would have been if we were together, two old vets with big sticks and even bigger bad attitudes. I am so tired of punks. I just want to live my quiet life, go about my normal business, enjoy my hobbies, dote on the grandkids, take pleasure in the peace and beauty around me, I try to avoid confrontation of any kind, but if you want trouble so be it, I got something for you

Carl Levitian
July 7, 2008, 05:40 PM
If there was two of us doc, they probably would have run!:D

Old Grump
July 7, 2008, 06:14 PM
Make that 3 old Grumpy Men. Crutches on bad days, cane on good days. Light cane for around house and a choice of several heavier sturdy canes when I have to go to the city. As far as knife vs stick confrontation, as much as I like my knives I put my money on a man who knows how to use a stick and I don't care if its 18", 30" or 60".

July 7, 2008, 06:48 PM
WOW you were lucky, err, very scary looking then. Sadly I'm only 16, and i've been on and off crutches for about 8 years. I plan on buying or making a really nice cane sometime soon. i have the basic cane set up on my worktable, but the wood cracked. :(

July 7, 2008, 07:11 PM
get yourself a nice oak or maple straight or almost straight tree limb about an inch or more thick and whittle you a cane of the proper lenth. Its fun and educational as you will learn to sharpen and have lots of thoughts on design.
good luck and God bless

Carl Levitian
July 7, 2008, 07:23 PM
shevrock, good advise from doc.

One other thing you may try. Find a good looking young hornbeam sappling that is growing pretty strait. tTake a small trowl and dig down around the root to see if it goes off at a good angle between 45 and 90 derees. If you find one, dig it up and use a hatchet to cut off the root below ground level, saving as much root as you can. Trim off the sappling about a foot longer than you need and let it sit down the basement in a cool dry place for at least 6 months. Then you make a rustic root knob handle walking stick out of it.

You can recognize hornbeam by its ridged "muscle" appearence. Its a very very tough wood, on the level with hickory if not tougher. Leave the bark on it like the brits do with the blackthorn. The under bark is very thick and a pain to get off because of the ridges, and you have to take off too much wood. I make them like this, and just polish the grey bark with 0000 steel wool, then stain and varnish. I finish off with Helmsman spar Urathane for a water proof finish.

Or, if you can find an Irish shop in a city near you, pick up a genuine blackthorn. it will be a lifetime companion.

Eleven Mike
July 7, 2008, 07:27 PM
Gangs of old men, roaming the streets with their canes. It's getting dangerous out there, folks. :)

July 7, 2008, 07:32 PM
I want to find a real-steel sword cane. thank you for that advice though.

July 7, 2008, 07:58 PM
No, bad, danger, danger, danger!

Cane swords are dangerous gimmicks unless you're a pure collector. Do NOT plan on using these defensively. If you want the most destructive 3' piece of support you can carry, a canvas micarta stick is the way to go. Pester Eric Draven enough, and maybe he'll make a micarta cane.

July 7, 2008, 08:03 PM
Mr shirley beat me to it
sword cane = wrong answer, period, amen, end of story
your still my friend though!

July 7, 2008, 08:21 PM
LOL, my grandma's name is Shirley, no offense though.I didn't actually plan on using it. I'll see about finding a better piece of wood., what's a good thickness and how should i do the handle.

July 7, 2008, 08:25 PM
1- 1 1/8", depending on material weight/strength is right.


July 7, 2008, 08:36 PM
So do you make a hand perpendicular to the body, or what.

July 7, 2008, 09:29 PM
Not quite old yet, but am a grumpy vet. Have a few white hairs on my chin.

Stick beats knife, at least as a tool for protecting yourself.

I always have a stick, and a knife, but the knife is usually just a normal jackknife.

Now, the blackthorn cane I have, I love. It is beautiful, people admire it, and I have a need for it. I can carry it in the courthouse, airport, or anywhere else, because I hurt. Nobody questions it.

As far as making one, you can either add a handle, or cut the root ball for it. What angle you put on it depends on what angle you like. 90 degrees is a good angle, but you may prefer something else. If you're making it yourself, then it's all just sweat to determine what you prefer. Experiment!

July 7, 2008, 09:48 PM
Heck, you can even get ambitious and build a steam forming rig out of pegs set in a board if you want to make a crook top.

July 7, 2008, 09:49 PM


I had a blackthorn once, but an overactive lab had his way with it and it became a chew toy. I hope to acquire a replacement soon.

Brian Dale
July 9, 2008, 03:12 AM
I've kept a stick in the car for the past nine months or so; I became convinced of the wisdom of that here, on this forum. Last winter, I picked up a hickory stock cane for about nine bucks at the local farm supply store. I've got a nice blackthorn, too; my Dad picked up some canes at the auctions that were among his hobbies.

I see more in my future: there are a couple of tree limbs - if you want to call them that - that came down out of a big maple during a wicked thunderstorm yesterday. The larger one's about fourteen inches at the base. I bet there are some good sticks in there. I was busy with other things today; I'll explore it as I cut it up and haul it off tomorrow.

Carl, a member here posted some time ago about a "shift in grip" that was instantly recognizable to thugs as a move that signified, "I'm ready," and to which they typically responded by seeking other prey, but he didn't specify what it was. You posted, I changed my grip on my blackthorn down a couple inches from the root knob handle.I'd speculated at the time that that was the move he was writing about.


July 9, 2008, 10:43 AM
I just ordered a Blackthorn from Lollysmith.com!!:)

July 9, 2008, 06:21 PM
I'm sure you'll like your blackthorn from Lollysmith; I know I like mine! Very heavy duty.

I wrapped a lot of electrical tape to the tip before attaching the rubber piece, then went around the whole thing at the end to hold it all tight together. Very secure.



July 9, 2008, 07:40 PM
Thanks for the tip Kerry!!!:)

July 9, 2008, 08:17 PM
Know how to run what you have.

Have a mindset, and give off vibes, you are paying attention, which will assist with some types of criminals on leaving you alone, and looking for easier prey.

Some types will not.

Mom does not know one of her two matching, black, adjustable canes with a tilde "~" shaped handle has been replaced by me.
$14 cane, works if you work it.

July 9, 2008, 09:03 PM
No problem,

At first the attachment was wobbly, but enough electrical tape solved the problem. You see, Mother Nature never had a certain size specification to match the stick to the rubber endpiece. So, one has to make the adjustment.

Try not to break too much stuff with it. I practically wrecked my box fan with it, just playing around. Super glue helped a lot...



Fred Fuller
July 9, 2008, 10:07 PM
I see Cold Steel makes an injection-molded faux blackthorn stick, right down to to the wood-tone root ball and molded-in 'thorn stubs.' Anyone have any experience with that version vs. the real thing as far as weight and balance is concerned?


July 10, 2008, 06:08 AM
I would be interested in hearing reviews about that CS product too. I suspect that it is probably a pretty good product, but I don't know that it has any particular advantage in price or utility over a blackthorn from lollysmiths.

Carl Levitian
July 10, 2008, 08:42 AM
Somebody on another forum bought one of the cold steel fake blackthorns. It came apart durring traing, apparantly the head is a separate moulded on part, and breaks off. :what:

There's nothin like the real one.

Dirty Bob
July 10, 2008, 10:01 AM
Nothing like a good cane or walking stick. Glad you're OK Carl. Yes, they might have won, but it would have been "expensive." You raised the price of messing with you past what they were willing to pay!

Anyone have experience with this little guy?

I looked at one at the gun store, and it felt pretty solid. The bottom has a sharp point, to go with its intended use, but I'd cut that off and add a crutch tip. It's a little "high tech," but I'm a geek anyway!

Dirty Bob

Carl Levitian
July 10, 2008, 10:57 AM
Sometimes Bob, raising the price makes a difference.

I think of the warthog.

The better half and I watch alot of the animal planet nature shows. Love them. They had some interesting film of a warthog getting bushwacked by a lioness. There he was grazing about, unaware that a large lioness was stalking him. When she made her move it was too late to run, so he lowered his head and charged right into her. Surprisingly, there was a hell of a fight for a few minutes. He got under her front end and was trying to disembowel her with his tusks, while she was hanging on for dear life trying to get a hold of his neck in the back. All the while the warthog was pushing the lioness back into this big thorn bush, and every time the lioness would get her back feet on the ground to push back, the hog would gouge her in the underside.

It was a hell of a real fight. Eventually the lioness got on top and killed the warthog, but then she was laying there exausted, panting, with some bloody fur on her cheast and belly, too d--m tired to eat. That warthog gave a good leason. Maybe next time I wonder if that lioness sees a warthog, she just may say the hell with it, just not that hungry. Ain't worth it, and go find a little Thomsons gazzel or something.

I feel like if we all just stop being victims, and act more like a warthog, there would be alot less crime. Sure, as an "older" person they can get my wallet and watch. But that will be AFTER the fight. I'm sure as all heck not going to make it easy for them!

The warthog has his tusks, I have my knarley old blackthorn stick. If the preditor is looking me over, I make no bones about choking up on my stick and looking him right in the eye, and let him know I'm ready if they are.

Warthogs are great inspiration.

July 10, 2008, 01:32 PM
Cool story carl.

bob, read this Glass-reinforced plastic

Dirty Bob
July 10, 2008, 03:47 PM
shevrock said:
bob, read this
Glass-reinforced plastic

That's Zytel, isn't it? Fiberglass-reinforced nylon is pretty tough stuff, in my experience. I'm pretty sure that's the material used in several of my folding knife handles (Spydie Delica, etc.).

Dirty Bob

Eleven Mike
July 10, 2008, 06:11 PM
Carl, I have read your past two Tales of the Stick, and there is something I feel I have to say. I hope you are very proud of yourself.

I am thinking especially of the young man who attacked you, which you beat senseless, after putting down his vicious dog with one smack of your walking stick. Now, Carl, what is that poor young man supposed to do without his street cred? How will he swagger around like a tough guy, after everyone knows he can't even handle a disabled old man, even when armed with a pit bull?

And what about these men you mentioned in the current thread? THREE of them. And you dismissed them with nothing more than a stick and a mean face. How will they hold their heads up, when they go home to their families after a long, back-breaking night of assault and petty theft?

I hope you will ponder what I have said.

July 10, 2008, 06:54 PM


Attacking old dudes with canes can be hazardous to your street cred. You have been warned.


July 13, 2008, 12:32 AM
I believe what you did is known as "Puttin' on the Ritz"

Come, let's blend where Rockefellers carry sticks or umbrellas in their mitts...

Eleven Mike
July 13, 2008, 12:49 AM
[FrankenSTEEN's Monster voice] PUTTIN' ON THE RIIIIIIIIIIITZ!!!!

You all might get that one. Or you might not.

July 15, 2008, 02:02 PM
11 Mike, shouldn't that be FrOnkenSTEEN's monster? :D

I see Cold Steel makes an injection-molded faux blackthorn stick, right down to to the wood-tone root ball and molded-in 'thorn stubs.' Anyone have any experience with that version vs. the real thing as far as weight and balance is concerned?

For what my opinion is worth, I hate the idea of fake looking things. I won't buy a car if it has woodgrain panel in it, or if I do that'll be the first thing to be ripped out. If I have to spray paint it black I won't have fake wood in my car. I refuse to have plastic houseplants and I hate silk flowers. My wife had a silk flower arrangement in her wedding bouquet. She liked it because she can still hold it and it looks like it did back then. Myself, I was the only one in the wedding party that had a real flower on that day. It's long since wilted and likely has been thrown away but I couldn't bring myself to wear a fake flower.

By that same token, I couldn't bring myself to carry an imitation blackthorn stick. Lynn Thompson has done a lot of things that has pissed me off over the years but this one has to be one of the worst.

July 16, 2008, 11:55 AM
After I broke my leg - compound fracture and a 18" ti rod inserted - I hobbled around on a walker for weeks. I guess I'm still too young to tolerate the things and moved to a cane as soon as I could tolerate the pressure. Actually, a little too soon, had to give it another week.

Nothing better to do, I surfed the net and downloaded all sorts of cane fighting instructions, and found Cold Steel makes a 14 wrap fiberglass cane with stainless knob head. Got it. It's been 5 years, they are still available.

I don't think a human can break one, and I'm sure I don't want to try - but I'm willing to let others who volunteer the opportunity to block for it and see how it works. :D

You can take them just about everywhere. They are a great backup when a CCW can't go in with you.

Able bodied or not, the more you have it, the less people notice it.

Brian Dale
July 16, 2008, 01:54 PM
Able bodied or not, the more you have it, the less people notice it. There's a nugget of wisdom. Thank you!

the lone gunman
July 16, 2008, 02:06 PM
I bought an Eastman Shooting monopod from Cabelas. Extends to something like 62 inches. I keep it short for use as a cane. Very Sturdy, would make a good weapon if need be.

July 16, 2008, 02:07 PM
11 Mike, shouldn't that be FrOnkenSTEEN's monster?
Yep, FrOnkenSTEEN :D


July 16, 2008, 02:16 PM
I have a length of rattan that I've used off and on for the last 10 years or so as a walking stick when walking the neighborhood or when off in the hinterlands.

Not particularly heavy but hard and sturdy and light enough to develop some speed behind it fast.

Smokey Joe
July 16, 2008, 10:33 PM
Who was it said "Never pick a fight with an old man--If he can't beat you he'll just kill you."????

And Carl Levitian--Heck of a good story abt the warthog. If the lion wants to eat, and you are dinner, make it the most expensive dinner of that lion's life!

As to street punks: Like most predators, including the human variety, they want easy prey. You don't necessarily have to be able to beat them to be left alone, just make it clear that taking your wallet/life/car keys won't be easy.

November 12, 2012, 04:35 PM
A Thanksgiving Month bump. Carl you ought to write a book!

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