Contributed byLouis Sabo, 1/11/02   (Bibliography added: 10/02/03)

I have one of those nice natural wood hiking staffs that are sold in outdoor supply stores. It is always with me on day hikes, especially when a lot of people are present. I get a lot of compliments on it and it makes good conversation.

The trouble is, when I am on a serious backpacking trip, I need something that I do not mind getting muddy, or even broken from putting my full weight on it, and I need some additional utility from it, other than just giving me balance. I have come up with an idea that has served me well for many years. It is strong and provides superior grip for hiking and to rescue another person. It stores fifty feet of 1/4" manila rope for an emergency and has a metal tip and hand strap. Here is the recipe for construction of mine - modify as desired.

1) Obtain a broom handle with metal tip from any hardware store.

2) Stain it to your favorite wood and varnish it.

3) Starting at the metal tip, wrap fifty feet of 1/4" manila rope using the technique of French Whipping.

4) At the very top, put a short Turk's head. (see The Ashley Book of Knots)

5) From a standing position, grip the staff at a comfortable level and make a mark an inch above your hand. There, drill a 1/8" hole.

6) Between the Turk's head and a half inch above the hole, with 3/16" rope of your choice, apply more French Whipping.

7) With 1/4" manila rope, run seven inches of Cross Pointing below the drilled hole.(smaller rope for smaller hands; I am six foot tall)

8) Take nylon twine, make a Portuguese Sennit eighteen inches long and run the excess leads through the 1/8" hole and secure it up snug to provide the hand strap.

9) Secure all the knots with 1" brads to prevent slipping. Be sure to countersink the nails to avoid cuts to hands.

The End Product:


Have two people grip each end of the staff on the French Whipping and have them try to pull the staff from the other's hand. It has a lot of grip doesn't it?! You bet it does. Just what is needed if someone needs a pull up a steep slope.

Bibliography of books with excellant illustrations of the knots used:

  1.  The Ashley Book of Knots; by Clifford W. Ashley

  2.  The Handy Boatman; by George Constable, ed.; New York: Time-Life Books, 1976.(Time-Life Books Library of Boating) [Coachwhipping(French Whipping), Portuguese Sennit and the Turk's Head.]

  3.  The Art of Knotting and Splicing; by Cyrus Lawrence Day; Annapolis, MD: United States Naval Institute, 1970. [Cross Pointing and Turk's Head.]

  4.  The Marlinspike Sailor; by Hervey Garre Smith; Tuckahoe, NY: J. DeGraff, 1971. [Coachwhipping (cross pointing), Portuguese Sennit, and French Whipping.]

Louis Sabo, 1/11/02

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