I recently noticed that my beloved set of arnis sticks, that I’ve had since I was 12, are starting to break down on me. They’ve managed to last this long partly because I taped them up when I first got them, and partly because I didn’t use them for a few years while I was on hiatus.
But I love these sticks. My brother kidnapped them to Colorado a few years ago and, I’m not gonna lie, that factored slightly into my decision to move here.
But alas, it was time to start looking into getting a new set. The problem? Having to order them online.
My beloved set was hand-picked at a Modern Arnis seminar conducted by Grandmaster Remy Presas. Those were some amazing sticks. I was able to make sure the diameter was just right, and that they matched. Plus they have great memories attached to them.
My experience with online sticks has not been as good. There’s no way to guarantee the sticks you get will be a good match for each other. There’s nothing I hate more than using two sticks that are a different size. I could probably spend a ton of money and get a really good set, but I’m too cheap for that. And the sticks are probably going to get destroyed eventually anyway, so what’s the point?
So I figured there had to be a way to make my own. I did some research and found a few companies to buy rattan poles from. I decided to go with Cane and Basket, and ordered 3 poles at 7/8 inch in diameter, and 1 pole at 1 and 1/8 inches. The bigger pole was a present for my brother since he wanted a long staff for his birthday, and the other 3 were for me. They have great prices, and the customer service was really helpful.
After I ordered the poles, I realized that I needed to know what to do with them once they arrived. The Stick Chick had a blog post around the same time with some great resources and advice. I decided to go with baking them, and using a heat gun to attempt making patterns.
Here’s what I did:
I decided on a length I wanted, somewhere in between my beloved set and a longer set. Just the right size to fit in the oven. I made my brother cut them to size, then I sanded some of the roughness out.
I baked them at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes. They probably could have gone longer, but I was nervous/impatient. I mostly was looking for color, since I couldn’t tell if they were steaming. A light golden brown was my goal.
I attempted to straighten out some spots, and I think I succeeded a little, but they definitely could have used more work. I’ll need to try harder next time.
Then I recruited my other brother (thanks Mark!) to sand down the edges again, while I played around with the heat gun on the pieces that were too long for the oven (they became tiny bo-staffs).
I used the heat gun to burn patterns on the handles of the arnis sticks. I leave those sections un-taped for better grip, but I wanted them to still be pretty!
Then I used some colored electrical tape to make the sticks fancy. I’ve found this is a good way to make them more appealing to kids (yay bright colors), and it also helps prevent the stick from splintering and injuring someone. Also, I like things that are fancy.
We tried them out at our next class, and they were awesome! Since this trial run went so well, I’ll definitely be ordering more poles. And yes, I will try to straighten them out better.