How to Make Inexpensive Rustic Hair Sticks

Updated on October 31, 2019
Pico Triano profile image

John has been a professional woodworker for more than fourteen years and has worked in and around the industry for more than forty-five.

Seven inch chokecherry carved hair sticks
Seven inch chokecherry carved hair sticks

Hair sticks are one of the oldest fashion accessories known to humankind. They have been used to secure long hair in virtually every culture on earth over the millennia. They are not difficult to use, and better yet, they are easy to make. This article will show you how to transform a couple of small sticks into a pair of elegant, practical hair sticks.


  • Loppers, hand pruners or a small saw

  • Whittling or carving knife

  • Sandpaper

  • Finish

Before You Begin

Hair sticks vary in length anywhere from about ten inches down to about four. The most common length that I've encountered is about seven inches and that is roughly how long I make mine. What is best for you will depend less on how long your hair is than how thick it is. Decide on the length before you begin.

Two dead twigs pruned from a tree close to my home
Two dead twigs pruned from a tree close to my home

Selecting Your Material

I live in a thick forest and just go for a walk with loppers or pruners in hand. I look for sticks that are about as big around as my wife's index finger or my pinkie finger. If you have stonemason's hands, your material will be too thick. You can make hair sticks from thicker material but you're making more work for yourself. Whittling them down to size will take longer.

  • Try to find two sticks of the same species of wood. Otherwise, they are not going to match when you're finished.
  • Using moderate pressure try to break the stick in two. If it breaks easily, it isn't strong enough. Just move on to another stick.
  • I cut my sticks to nine inches, which is about two inches longer than my finished product. Once I have the sticks I want, I take them home.

The terms hardwood and softwood are ambiguous terms. They don't tell you how hard the wood actually is. For the purpose of carving hair sticks, you will know how hard the wood is when you start whittling. The harder a wood is, the harder it will be to carve. I carve them anyway because the wood is often beautiful. Many softwoods contain a lot of sap and/or resin. To use them, the wood has to be very dry and a finish should be applied to avoid getting sticky resin in the user's hair.

Dry deadwood is also harder to carve than green wood with the sap in it. For some species of wood, I only cut deadwood because I don't want to remove any living growth. For other species, it doesn't really matter.

Cutting away from myself
Cutting away from myself

Step One

Remove the bark. I use a knife and can whittle the bark off my hair stick blank within a matter of minutes. Remember to keep the hand holding your work behind the cutting edge and the direction of cut. Always cut away from your body.

Whittling away the bark
Whittling away the bark

Step Two

Continue whittling until you have your hair stick shaped and sized the way you want it. To be practical it does need to come to a blunt point on one end. That will make it easy to insert into the hair when it is being used.

If you like the hair sticks the way they are, you can happily stop right here and use them (My daughter and I call this the anti-vampire stake stage). Just make sure there is nothing to snag the user's hair and you're good to go. Most people prefer to sand them at this point and apply a finish of some kind.

Anti-vampire stakes. I've left extra material on because I will be machine sanding to bring them to their final shape.
Anti-vampire stakes. I've left extra material on because I will be machine sanding to bring them to their final shape.

Step Three

Sanding allows you to refine the shape and make everything nice and smooth. If you watch my video you will see that I flip my belt sander upside down and work on it like it's a bench sander. You don't have to do that. Hand sanding takes more time but offers greater control. Beautiful results are easily attainable either way.

Sanded and ready for finishing
Sanded and ready for finishing

Step Four

Adding embellishments is something I feel compelled to do. I don't feel like my hair sticks are complete until I've carved some kind of knob or pattern into the one end. I use simple carving tools and find that my options here are only limited by my imagination and skill. At the end of this step, fine sand your work if needed.

Various different treatments on the ends of the hair sticks
Various different treatments on the ends of the hair sticks

Step Five

Raw wooden hair sticks will absorb oils from the hair of the user however I would recommend putting a finish on your work on purpose. Finishes like walnut oil or linseed oil will bring out the natural beauty of the grain. Stains can give your work rich colour. Lacquer, varnish or shellac can enhance and protect the wood as well as make them even smoother to the touch. The choices are up to you.

Oiled and ready for use
Oiled and ready for use

All Finished

Your hair sticks are all ready. They're beautiful and you made them yourself. If you're at a loss as to how to use them here is a video that will show you how. YouTube, of course, will suggest several other similar videos when you're done looking at this one.

Using a Hair Stick

Watch the Author Make a Hair Stick

I think with this article alone, it would be easy to make a hair stick. Sometimes it helps to see someone in action. In this video, I carve a hair stick out of Speckled Alder sticks. The wood is soft and green and the process goes very quickly. Even with stops to discuss shooting with my videographer and reshoots, I was able to complete and oil this set of hair sticks within thirty minutes.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Pico Triano profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago from New Brunswick, Canada

      Hardwood would make an excellent hair stick. The spotted alder that I used in the video is technically a hardwood although it is pretty soft. A good hardwood will be harder to carve but the resulting stick will be stronger. Glad you enjoyed the article. If you do make one, I love to see a picture of your handiwork.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 

      2 years ago from Brazil

      What a great idea! I am a fan of hair sticks and have worn them since I was in my twenties. We have 8 acres and many twigs from our various trees. Although we have mostly hardwood, this is something we will definitely try to do.

      I never even thought about making my own.

      So pleased to have found this article, thanks.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)