wood stick resisting snapping

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Novice has been asked to make a wooden stick for using in feet Reflexology treatment. Basically its like a very fat tube shaped pen (about 15mm dia and 150mm long) with a shaped end. But it could be put under quite a bit of pressure, sideways.
So what would be a good wood to use, that is not so likely to snap in half and would also be fairly readily available in north london u.k. Thanks
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wrote:

Sounds like you're looking for the same characteristics a bowyer would look for. If I remember correctly, yew was popular. Ash comes to mind but I'm not certain if I remember that being bow wood. What else did they make bows out of back then, or even, for a lot of artisans, these days?
You'd also want to look for something as straight-grained as possible, with the grain running along the stick.
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Hickory might be good, too.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Note that the length is 150 millimeters. Not centimeters.
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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greatest strength, will do the job. Use http://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/fplgtr/fplgtr113/fplgtr113.htm and the strength figures in chapter four if you like numbers.
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Not sure what you can find in the UK but:
Hickory - you ain't gonna break it soon Ash - it'll bend a bunch before it snaps Bois d'Arc - used by Amerindians to make bows, but unlikely you'll find it in the UK. I'd send you some (have acres of it in Texas, USA), but shipping would kill you Yew - if yew can find it
Regards.
Tom
On Wed, 27 Jun 2007 20:29:11 GMT, "torge conrad maguar"

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@voidacious.net says...

What the others said ... seeing you are in London I'd also recommend oak and beech - both very strong.
-P.
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On Wed, 27 Jun 2007 20:29:11 GMT, "torge conrad maguar"

Beech is the ideal wood here. Easy to get, easy to put a good smooth surface onto it, and if you do break it, it doesn't produce particularly nasty splinters. I'd also use lime (light) or hornbeam (heavy) if I cared about the weight. It's also pretty easy to get in the UK - you might even find it as round dowel.
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I hesitated to recommend beech in my response to the OP because I'm familiar only with the American species, and wasn't sure how much difference there might be to the European beech. For comparison, our beech has a somewhat coarser grain than maple or cherry, but much finer than oak or ash. Hardness is somewhat less than that of sugar or black maple, but considerably greater than any other maple. Sounds like yours is fairly similar?

What genus/species of tree is "lime" in the UK? Here in the US, we know "lime" only as the citrus fruit with which I'm sure you're familiar, and the wood is of little commercial value. Your climate won't support growing citrus, so it must be something else. I wonder what we know it as here.

Same question: what genus/species? The hornbeams we have here are approximately the same hardness as granite. OK, perhaps I exaggerate, but our most common hornbeam has a more common name, too: ironwood. I've cut some as firewood, and it takes the edge off a chainsaw in a big hurry. American hornbeam isn't something I'd recommend to a novice woodworker. I suppose yours isn't quite the same, though?
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On 28 Jun, 01:33, snipped-for-privacy@milmac.com (Doug Miller) wrote:

OP's in the UK.
Europe's ash, beech and arguably walnut are better than their US equivalents. OTOH our maples and cherry are scarce, pines are poor and we've no hickory, bois d'arc or red oak.

Our beech might be softer than any of the maples, but maybe you've got extra-soft maples I'm unfamiliar with. Although the grain is certainly coarser than maple, it's acceptably fine for this purpose.
I might use ash myself, especially for turned work, but I'd pick the right log to make it out of. Most of the ash I have is "structural grade" (i.e. fast grown, with wide rings) and I've always plenty of slow grown stuff that's only fit for decorative work. So long as the ring-porous bit isn't too porous, it finishes wel enough for this.
Beech's greatest advantage is that the UK timber trade is poorly organised and it's hard to buy quality hardwoods unless you're either bulk, or you know where to go. Beech is one of the very few timbers that you can find easily in a useful grade of quality.

Tilia, aka linden or basswood. Not _quite_ the same species as US bassswood, but near enough.

Actually it will, if you want a decorative lime or orange tree in a tub on the patio. You'll see cute little fruit too, but they won't be big enough to be edible or to fell for timber.

No idea. I always think of this as a central European timber and I rarely see it growing locally. However a friend's garden had half-a- dozen of the things in it until recently, and I've been doing a lot of turning with the logs. Lovely stuff to turn - it's not easy going, but you get a lovely surface for almost no effort. Nice spalting too.

Ours aren't that hard or dense. Getting that way, but not enough to make it hard to work. It's not abrasive either - you need sharp tools, but it doesn't blunt them excessively.
I might use sycamore, plane or maple for this job if I had a piece sitting around and that individual log was up to the task (there's always plenty of short plane logs around from suburban roadside tree- surgery). I'd want to look at individual boards though -- our maples are awfully variable in quality.
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standpoint: it takes a considerable force to break a piece of wood 15mm thick, and you're just not going to get very much leverage if it's only 150mm long. (I suspect that the folks who have been advising you to search out strong woods such as hickory or bois d'arc -- native to the US -- have neglected to do the conversion from metric: Imperial equivalent is a bit under 5/8" diameter x 6" long; you'll not snap even white pine that size with your hands, unless you're foolish enough to mill it across the grain instead of along it.)
Your primary consideration should be the type of grain. To avoid leaving splinters in bare feet, or snagging hosiery, you'll want something with a close, tight grain. Maple of any species would be perfect, including what you folks in the UK know as sycamore. (In the US, we call that the planetree maple, or the London planetree; what we call sycamore is something entirely different.) Any fruitwood also would do well; you may find cherry, apple, or pear available. Yew and holly are possibilities as well, but be advised that if you're turning this on a lathe, your tools had better be *damned* sharp, especially for holly.
I'd stay away from coarser woods such as oak or ash -- lady clients won't appreciate snags and runs in their stockings.
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On 28 Jun, 01:19, snipped-for-privacy@milmac.com (Doug Miller) wrote:

I was _so_ unimpressed when I discovered how they make practice boards for karate...
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wrote:

This is the correct answer. The strength is not going to be an issue.
If it was me I would go to the log store and split a few dry logs into sticks until I found a nice piece, needn't be totally straight, and whittle and scrape until I was pleased.
Tim W
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The primary consideration should be "Reflexology?" What a load of bunk.
scott
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What happened to "the customer is always right"?
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snipped-for-privacy@milmac.com (Doug Miller) writes:

That particular saying has never been accurate. Some customers are just wrong.
scott
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wrote:

LOL - I understand. And I agree with you that reflexology is a load of bunk; in fact, I think I'd put it a little more strongly than that. Just the same, if somebody was willing to pay me to make such an instrument for him, I'd do it without hesitation.
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wrote:

The other posters have addressed the practicalities of wood species, while essentially overlooking the application - reflexology. Reflexology is a New Age sport with links to age old Eastern sports. Please note that sport means anything I want it to mean in this instance. ;)
Since it's New Agey, I think bamboo would be a good choice. Readily available, smooth, cheap, strong, cheap, round and cheap. It is also cheap.
When you say shaped end, I am not sure if you mean shaped into a smooth rounded end, or shaped to look like a duck or other animal. Following the New Agey theme, inserting a healing crystal - you know, a rock - into each end and affixing it with epoxy would be nifty. I suggest you select a suitable euphemism for epoxy to assist in selling the wholesomeness of the instrument.
Use a chisel tip permanent marker to inscribe symbols that look vaguely Eastern in origin. Don't worry about the meaning - make one up. I would pay more attention to the box you present it in, rather than the stick itself. In fact, if the bamboo was worn and a bit grimy they'd probably appreciate it more. Use words like patina and provenance. Speak in hushed tones and make sure to charge at least ten times what you think it's worth.
R
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Thanks to all responses. In reply to this last rather cynical one, there is documentary evidence showing the existance of reflexology existing in Egypt two and half thousand years ago. The person I'm making this stick for learnt it in the deep south of Japan some fifty years ago where it was passed down through the generations. There was no access to doctors so it must have had something going for it to survive for so long, since the Japanese are nothing if not practical. Although admittedly this original healing art bears little relationship to what people learn in a few weeks these days in the local college.
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wrote:

Cynical? Nah. Simply an attempt at a humorous workup, and there's certainly a lot of humor to be found in New Age mentality. Whether you like the advice or not, it would be a totally appropriate construction and simple to make. The other stuff is true - again, whether you like it or not, that's simply human nature.
Here's the deal, you make two - my version and a simple wood one. Present both to the recipient, if they don't prefer my version, I'll buy it from you...assuming that you've made it to my standards and you've ignored the part about charging at least ten times what it's worth. ;)
R
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