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Local craftsman making a stand with unique canes
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Unique handles paired with wood, metal and bamboo shafts make each of Wendell Hinksons canes a one-of-a-kind conversation piece. - photo by VERONICA COONS Great Bend Tribune

Wendell Hinkson, Great Bend, liked the feel of the gearshift knob he found at a local auto parts store.  So much so, he paired it with a stick of bamboo, a rubber tip, and voila, a unique and functional cane was born.
“From there, it just kind of went crazy,” he said.  So far, he’s made 37 unique canes, with no end in sight. Beneath each tip hides his craftsman mark and a number, and rightly so.  
Since his first project he has created several canes, a few gentleman’s walking sticks, and even a few thumbsticks for hiking.  
“I made a five and a half foot walking stick for my brother who lives in North Carolina,” he said.  From the cane holder by his door, he pulls out a tall bamboo shafted stick with a Y-shaped branch attached to the top.  “It’s called a thumb stick.   The point is to get one that is comfortable.”  He demonstrated how the curve in the branch fit the palm of his hand perfectly, and his thumb was cradled in the natural Y-shaped branching at the top.  For added stability and security on the trail, a strap is added to slip the hand through.  Most, he said, were braided leather straps, but this one had a more simple, flat design.    
His choices of base range from bamboo to pool cues, and from metal extendable curtain rods to broomsticks.   They start out as raw materials in his workshop, but after he’s stained, painted, bored and drilled, and attached one of a kind handles, they are fit for all walks of characters and gentlemen.
He keeps an eye out for unique items at  estate sales, flea markets, garage sales, craft stores, parts stores and nature are all treasure troves for his creativity.  They may be golf clubs, gear shift knobs, antique door knobs, fanciful wine stoppers, even microphones.  And the findings he decorates the shafts with enhance the personality of each cane.  
“I just thought, instead of getting a regular old cane, why not make something unique?” he said.  And he’s not alone.  It turns out, as word of mouth is getting around, the requests are beginning to trickle in.
One cane, made for a local businessman who wanted to express his love of fishing.  Hinkson created the shaft from bamboo with the handle made from the grip of a fishing pole.  A finishing touch came from a drawer pull  he found, shaped like two trout, which he turned into a decoration for the shaft.   
Another unique creation, a gentleman’s walking stick made from a pool cue.  These are a lot like canes, but not quite as strong.
“They’re mostly for show,” he said.  “In old movies, you might see one, but I always thought they were kind of cool.”  
(For more information about Hinkson’s canes, see his ad in miscellaneous section of today’s classifieds.)