Ron Speirs, the founder of Scottish Stickmakers of Dunkeld made his first “stick” over 30 years ago.
Living & working in the village of Dunkeld in Highland Perthshire since 1982 his love of fishing & the Highlands has been a major influence on the development of “The Dunkeld” wading staff & Red Deer antler handled country walking sticks.
After 17 years as a gallery owner & quality picture frame maker, working in wood to the highest standards became an integral part of his daily routine.
During that time his work has gone to countries throughout the world & his customers range from the late Queen Mother to the hill walker “up the glen “.
Apart from wood his other favoured working material is Red Deer Antler, as he says, “No two pieces of wood are identical & it’s even more so with Antler. Antlers in particular are like fingerprints, its hard to imagine how each one can be so unique & the antlers “cast” this year will again be different on the same Stag next year…..fascinating isn`t it. ”This means that every stick made is a completely unique item & I just love that outcome"
Our “Prestige” range of sticks have had several hours of close attention. They are hand oiled daily over a number of days in a similar process to that used on the very best quality gunstocks & you get to know the individual look & feel of both the wooden shank & antler top intimately.
These sticks & staffs are "special"
“I consider them individual works of art & it’s satisfying to know that with reasonable care they could be in use for a lifetime or more.”
Our “Premium” & “Prestige” Stickmaking Process
From start to finish it takes up to 10 days to complete all the traditional processes involved in handcrafting one of our " "Premium" or " Prestige" Country Walking Sticks or Wading Staffs
Shanks (shafts) :
Only individually selected premium grade seasoned & straightened Hazel, Chestnut, Ash, & Crab Apple shanks are currently used with Blackthorn knobsticks now also available
The lumps & bumps where offshoots etc have been growing are first reduced slightly using varying grades of abrasives & finally polished with fine grade steel wool.
A light stain is then applied to enrich the colour of the exposed knots etc
The shank is then “sealed” twice by a method used in traditional French polishing.
The hand oiling technique is then begun & is similar to that used on the very best gunstocks. It is repeated over several days until the desired effect is achieved giving the shank a beautiful sheen which is not “slippy” to the touch.
No varnishes or lacquers are involved in this traditional process.
Please note; given that this is naturally grown material, the finished shanks may vary slightly in colour, texture & appearance even within the same wood group.
The Tops (Handles):
These are made from naturally “cast” (shed) Scottish Red Deer Stag antler collected for us from estates throughout the Scottish Highlands. Red Deer grow new antlers each year having “cast” last year’s antlers at the end of each winter with the new ones ready for the current year`s rutting (mating) season
The cuts of antler are selected with care regarding diameter, shape, wall thickness & overall appearance.
They are then sized & capped with Buffalo Horn & Ram`s Horn, small steel reinforcing pins being used internally where necessary. The decorative inserts are fitted into a recess made in the handle & sealed in a clear resin. The ends are then reduced to size & burnished to give a beautiful highly polished ivory & black finish.
No two pieces are the same in shape, colour or texture.
Also available ready made or to order are Shepherds Crooks made in Buffalo Horn & Ram`s Horn as well as more basic Shepherds Crooks made in Ash.
The sticks are then assembled using Nickel Silver, Sterling Silver & Brass Collars at the point of the reinforced joint. This can include an engraved Thistle, Stags head, Pheasant, Salmon or monogram of your initials on the collar at a small additional cost. Rams Horn collars & spacers can be made with Ox Horn & Cow Horn also available.
These are either of solid Brass or Rubber depending on your choice & added to the foot of the stick after it has been reduced to the size required
The “Dunkeld” Wading Staff
Most regular Salmon fishers take safety seriously & would not wade in a river of any size without the aid of a wading staff.
When we researched what was currently available it was clear that while there were a few metal & plastic items & some basic wooden products there was no high quality traditionally made product which was as pleasing to the eye as it was functional.
This led us to develop the “Dunkeld” Wading Staff using the same traditional processes as our “Prestige” range of country walking sticks.
The shank is made of turned Sports Grade Ash ( as used in the best hockey sticks etc ) & prior to the sealing & hand oiling process an additional “preservative” is used as the staff will spend much of its time immersed in water.
A quick release Plated spring clip or Marine Grade Stainless Steel eyelet is attached to the staff to receive the lanyard which itself is of rot proof cord. A Stainless Steel ring or Nickel Coated (not plated ) Marine Grade Bronze spring clip is attached to the end of the lanyard which is then knotted & a traditional whipping of fine rot proof cord applied for extra security. The whipping is then sealed with resin.
Our lanyards are white ( so you won`t lose them in the grass ) & are deliberately longer than normal in order that you can reduce them to the exact size required by tying one or more half hitch knots (see illustration).
We looked at all sorts of toggles & adjustable fittings for the lanyard ( mostly made of plastic) & it became clear that while our chosen method required additional time & process the old ways are still the most reliable as well as the most aesthetically pleasing.
With reasonable care the “Dunkeld” wading Staff will last a lifetime or more & is a joy to look at as well as to hold.