Drying Tree Branches for Woodworking Projects

SITUATION:
My father-in-law is 94 years old and just started haveing trouble getting out of his chair and walking.
He made a walking stick out of an old yellow broom stick and put a rubber tip on it, but won't take it to stores or restrauents because of it's appearence.
I cut a branch off a walnut tree in my back yard (1 1/2" diam at the top, 3/4" diam at the bottom & 5' long) and stripped the bark.
I sanded everything smooth and used fiberglass tape to tape it to a piece of angle iron to straighten it.
QUESTION:
Where should I let it dry & how long should I let it dry before I stain and finish it?
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If the branch is dead, It should be pretty dry already. If it is still green, wait up to 1 year per inch thickness. BUT since time is probably of the essence, I would simply oil the stick and add a coat of wax. I would not stain walnut.
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Since this is a branch, I would assume that only sap wood will appear. This is white, not the brown that you are thinking of when you hear the word "walnut".
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Tom H wrote:

I've made a lot of walking sticks. I usually debark them, then stick them in my outdoor shed for a week or two before finishing them. Longer during cold weather. I don't stain mine; just barely stick a finishing nail in the end and hang them from a bit of weed eater line or whatever's handy. I use spar urethane on them.
Walking sticks aren't rocket science. If it's dry enough to sand, it's dry enough to finish, IME.
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when the stick is still wet and you tap on the ground like a wooden drum stick it sounds mushy and won't bonce back very far when its dryed properly it will resonate and bonce back when you tap it
if it makes the same tap and bonce as currant broom stick you know its dryed about right
Assumeing that FIL didn't leave His cane in the creek for a couple days :)

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