Last Thursday night at the Rotary Club of Hawick the speaker was Rob Broatch and his subject was "stick dressing".
Rob initially got interested in making shepherds' crooks or "sticks" by attending local night classes at the High School where the teacher was Joe Fraser. That was many years ago and since then Rob has never stopped making sticks: a hobby that he continues to enjoy to this day.
Rob during his talk produced quite a number of raw but straightened sticks. Rob explained how he went about straightening the sticks using a home made jig. After his raw sticks (which can be any type of wood including chestnut, holly, or hazel) are straightened, he usually leaves them for two or three years to ensure they are properly dried out before he can consider using them.
Rob then displayed a number of raw materials that he uses for the crook end of his finished sticks. This material varied from numerous types of hard wood, ram horn, buffalo horn, and also bog oak. Bog oak is ancient wood that has been submerged in a peat bog for a long period of time and it varies in colour from black to various shades of brown.
Next on display was Rob's toolbox where he talked the audience through the tools that he uses, including a ferret saw, rasps, and numerous files from rough to fine. The final two stages of dressing any stick are fine sanding and applying several coats of varnish or alternatively polishing the stick with some type of wood oil.
Lastly Rob passed round numerous finished sticks all which had been made by him, to a very high standard. Most had been intricately carved with designs such as thistles, squirrels, fish, and birds, and all were very much admired by the club members.
During Rob's talk club members asked numerous questions and these were all answered expertly by Rob.
President Linden Warburton gave the vote of thanks.
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Our Vocational & Community Committee concentrates on supporting local community groups and on youth activities, often in collaboration with Hawick High School and with Primary Schools in the town.more