Monday, October 1, 2018

Cheap Gear Review: Electrical Conduit Walking Staff

I like to walk. If you have seen my author photo, you may have noticed that I am a little bit heavy. Because of that, I like to have a selection of walking sticks made of electrical conduit pipe at hand.

They function as a way to keep my balance when I am having balance issues or dealing with knee and ankle injuries, help me get over rough terrain, and even serve as a dandy impromptu weapon should ever come to it. I have even been known to use one as a way to carry multiple bags across my shoulders instead of in my hands. What I am carrying is, in effect, a short quarter staff made from steel.

5'5" walking staff.
Model: Joe Vasicek

Now if a walking stick or cane is not your style this article may not be for you, but hopefully it will help you if you ever decide to get one as a gift for a friend. They are surprisingly inexpensive to purchase, and it's surprisingly easy to personalize them.
  1. First, the staff itself. I purchase ten foot lengths of pipe and cut them down, since it is cheaper per foot, but you can buy pre-cut five foot (and in some places four foot) lengths. I like to purchase mine from Home Depot, but any hardware store should carry it. 
    • I prefer to get 0.5" diameter pipe, but I have purchased 0.75" in the past. The half inch is lighter, but not quite as strong, which I have never had an issue with. I know someone who uses one inch, but I find that to be uncomfortable in my hand as I hold it and I do have some fairly large mitts.
    • The total cost for a pre-cut (so more expensive), 5 foot long, ½ inch diameter galvanized steel electrical conduit at the time of this writing is less than $3 US.
  2. I prefer to put Great Stuff Expanding Foam on the interior of the staff. This gives it just a bit more weight, and prevents crud from getting in. If you have some sitting around from a project and need to finish a can off, this is a great way to do it; just make sure to spray it in from both ends, to get better coverage. Loctite makes an excellent similar product that actually works better than Great Stuff for projects like these.
  3. Then I put on a rubber ferrule. It protects the bottom and provides traction when I'm walking around. I couldn’t find a single one on Amazon, so this link is for a multi-pack, which is nice since these tips eventually wear out.
  4. Finally, I put on grip tape. I use 3M electrical tape and re-apply after a couple of years, but your mileage may vary. The neat bit is that it comes in a bunch of interesting colors, making customization is easy.
  5. Your electrical conduit walking staff is done. Have fun with it!
3'5" walking stick.
Model: Joe Vasicek

(Regular readers may ask if I have run my staff through the dishwasher. The answer is no, because it will not fit. If I ever purchase an industrial dishwasher I will remedy this.)
Don’t forget to practice.

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