Dead Wood

Handcrafted Walking Sticks

Handcrafted walking sticks made from historic Knoxville TN cemetery trees. Pruned, dried, whittled, treated, sealed, and whipped by Andrew Petelka, resident caretaker at Bethel Cemetery.

150+yr old Sugar Maple / 60+yr old Crepe Myrtle, sustainably pruned on site at Bethel Cemetery from living trees

  • Dried 1 year before fire-hardening
  • Treated with a combination of Lemon Oil and Tung Oil
  • Sealed with 3 coats of nautical-grade Helmsman sealant
  • Handles are whipped jute or hemp cord in Common or Westland style

Differences between the tree species

Sugar Maple

Sugar Maple is a heavier, denser material as opposed to crepe myrtle. Maple has a certain heft and ability to dampen impacts with the ground, as the fibers are firm and stiff. The downside is the added weight. I prefer maple for hiking or walking the cemetery, as the natural weight makes it easy for me to test ground stability. Maple has a very sturdy feel across a variety of uneven terrains as well as being useful for bushwhacking.

Crepe Myrtle

Crepe Myrtle is lighter than maple; as well as being strong and capable of flexing while retaining strength. Crepe myrtle sticks tend to feel better in urban settings, both due to the lightness of the wood and its ability to comfortably flex when you want to lean on it. I tend to bring a crepe myrtle stick when I have to go into the office or other places with concrete because the weight difference becomes apparent and the staff does an excellent job of dispelling the shock of impact.

Why Tung Oil?

While both tung and linseed oil are 100% natural, over time linseed oil will go rancid and cause the wood to yellow abnormally. Tung oil does not have this issue, so it will not affect the color.


Andrew L. Petelka

Knoxville, TN, USA