The basic cane is a wood stick with one end bent into a crook. The main purpose of a cane is to support and stabilize the person using it when they walk. The crook can be replaced with more decorative ‘handles’ as long as the main purpose of the cane is not compromised. If you need support and stability when you walk, then a cane is what you are looking for.
My personal cane, pictured here, is more finished than the usual ‘rustic’ cane. It is made from an oak branch and, while the curve of the branch may not make it appear so, the handle aligns over the shaft end and supplies great support.
A walking stick is a cane with a decorative ball or ‘knob’ on the end instead of the crook or ‘hand grip’ found on the more utilitarian cane. Walking sticks are intended to be for style and decoration more than for utility.
Staves are usually associated with hikers and wizards. A ‘full’ staff should come up to your eye level and be held well below the top end. A ‘short’ staff only needs to be long enough to be gripped as a staff. The advantage of a short staff is portability. It’s easy to keep a short staff in the car for those impromptu explorations during a road trip. A long staff is better if you are planning several days of hiking and camping. It’s length supplies more leverage and reach for the obstacles that might be found on the trail.
I further divide all four categories into ‘carved’ and ‘rustic’.
Carved canes, walking sticks, and staves are, well, carved. They may, or may not, also be utilitarian. Highly carved items, especially staves, are more likely to be considered display pieces only meant for light use. The “Dance Styx” featured in the header, and the “Church Styx” shown in it’s own post are good examples of carved staves.
Rustic canes, walking sticks, and staves are made from natural saplings and branches with minimal finishing work. The area intended for holding is always well finished and comfortable, the rest is less finished. Knots are usually smoothed and rounded but not finished flush with the shaft. They are, generally, heavier and meant for more robust use.
Example of a rustic short staff. This one can be used by anyone up to about
5’8” in height.