Straightening Georgia's World Record Setting Cane
This information is written by Mark Bracken, and is posted with his permission.
The first step is seasoning your cane. (You will hear me say this a lot). In my opinion, it is best to fully season the cane. The method you use should not be one that uses extreme heat, as this could crack the cane.
Once it has been seasoned, note that it may still have a green look to it. Now that your cane is dry, sand or cut the little buds at each node. Take great caution in removing the two or three buds from the skinny end. You should leave a little extra material on these, the reason being that this is the area that is succeptible to breakage. Now...trust me on this...soak it in water for 12 to 24 hours, 24 hours being the maximum, to rehydrate it. If you try to heat and bend cane that is too dry, it will scorch quickly or unexpectedly break. The added moisture will simply evaporate during the straightening process. The cane will lose about one fifth of its weight! You can soak your cane in a PVC pipe or a creek, pond, or any other favorite wet spot.
Now take the cane out of the water and while it's still wet, wipe it clean. Use dry heat, not steam, to do your straightening. I use a propane burner, turned down very low, like you would use to boil a big pot of peanute (yum).
This process is a five step deal. First, doing every other space between the nodes. Second, doing the rest of the spots between the nodes. Step three is straightening every other node and step four is the remaining nodes. And finally step five, fine-tuning the dart and hitting those stubborn spots. The reason for doing this is to prevent yourself from working too close to a still hot spot and rebending your previous work.
Now let's get started. Start by working on the areas between the nodes. Lightly and evenly brown the crooked area with a trirling motion, being careful not to burn it. The cane should take on a rubbery consistency when enough heat has been applied. Carefully bend it over your knee (it's best to use a leather pad to prevent burns). I suggest you slightly roll the cane back and forth as you bend it to prevent kinking. You can slightly over-bend it and return the section to straight: this prevents a finished dart from warping back to its original shape. Some bends are just too big to do this, so use your best judgement. Now getting back to where I was. Straighten between the nodes doing every other one, it should look like a banana.
The reason for doing every other node and segment is to prevent rebending the area already straightened. Another important tip is to work on three shafts simultaneously. This is to allow each section to cool. It is also important to work on the segments first. If you do the nodes first, the will tend to bend back as you straighten the adjacent segments. Trust me on this. Also, as you reach step five, you can test the dart on the floor by holding the nock end and rolling it. The dart is finished when it rolls with good balance. How perfect you make it is up to you, but remember, it must have balance.
Here are some more helpful hints.
- It is best to start on your worst shaft at the skinny end. If you break it, don't discard it. Keep on practicing to learn your limitations.
- Don't worry about small kinks in your finished darts. Tthey won't affect performance.
- On huge bends that you are unable to get perfectly straight, you can correct this by bending an area up or down from the bad area and still achieve a well-balanced dart.
- Don't scrape the natural waxy coating off the dart - it acts as a natural moisture barrier. The exception to this is the area to be fletched.
- The best result I have achieved is to dip the nock end of the dart in a varnish or lacquer to help in the adhesion of the feathers. I use a four fletch jig I designed to apply all four feathers at once. A good choice of cements is a product called Duco. I purchased mine at KMart. It's less expensive than arrow fletching cement and dries faster.
Your new cane darts do not have to be foreshafted. I glue in my copper points with five minute epoxy. The poitns do not have to fall on a node to be strong! I like to use unwaxed dental floss for hafting points and for strengthening the shaft directly behind the point. This prevents the shaft from cracking in the event you hit a concrete wall, automobile, or mastadon skull. Then I coat the hafting cordage with more five minute epoxy.
If you would like to contact me for any of my products or have any questions or suggestions, you can reach me at 770-345-7305. I hope this information will be a benefit to you!
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