I live in a place where it’s not hard to find diamond willow. In fact, it’s hard to avoid it. I’m tempted on my way to and from work every day to take a detour and check out a willow patch. I usually must resist that temptation, but when I have the time, it’s great fun to explore a new willow patch.
However, just because there is willow everywhere, it still takes some serious hunting to find good, quality sticks for finishing. I probably examine ten bushes for every stick I cut. But that is what makes it so enjoyable – the rewards for persistence.
I’m not sure how to explain this obsession. It’s clear that most people just drive by and never notice the willow all around them. I am happy to report that I don’t really find competition for willow. I’ve seen a few patches where sticks have been cut, and once I had a guy stop to show me his willow stick.
Because there is so much willow, I’m not secretive about my spots. In fact, I teach classes at the local environmental learning center and take people out on willow hunts. I’m a teacher by trade, and I enjoy sharing my knowledge. I hope you’ll enjoy what I share on this page!
18 thoughts on “Diamond Willow – It’s Everywhere!”
You sound like a very giving guy, glad I found you.. I grew up in Wisc.. just across river from Wabasha, Minn .. we had an ice fishing shack out there
. Ate you related to the Gustafsons in Wabasha and the “Grumpy” movies..?
I’ve gone out to look for willow and I’ve found some, but mostly it’s been dead or someone else has been the before me. What I find is nothing to work with and make something. Since you say you’re wiling to share, could you tell me where you live and maybe I’ll come cut a few sticks to take home and work on. My dream is to find one that has the most unique character . I’ve seen pictures of them so I feel I can too. Thanks Glen
Hi Glen! Thanks for the note. Could you send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org? Let me know where you live and we can talk about a willow hunt.
I enjoyed your article very much.Thank you for taking the time to share your knowledge in this open forum. I work in very remote parts of Alaska and it seems that this spring I will be in some prime diamond willow area. I sure hope that I am able find some pieces as, I would love to spend some of my spare time with this great hobby. If all goes well I may have some wonderful handcrafted gift to give out this holiday season.
Rodley, Thanks for the note! I hope your willow hunt goes well. Let me know what you find!
Dear Tom, Thank you so much for all your wisdom and information. I am a member of a Woodshop in Tucson Arizona.
I purchased a nice willow stick from a fellow member. I went through the steps you describe but didn’t have much guidance. Now I know what to do since I’ve just discovered your site.
I inlaid turquoise and my husband loves it. Wherever we go people want to purchase it from us. I live in Oklahoma and winter in Arizona so I’m not sure I can find willow close to me. I would like to purchase some sticks for my self and the Woodshop. My husband found some online at very high prices. Do you know where I could go to find sticks or buy them reasonably priced? I don’t mind traveling for them. I can’t describe how much I love this wood and how helpful you have been.
Thank you, Helen
I apologize that I did not see your note until now. I guess I missed the notification. I hope you were able to find willow. If not, you can visit my Etsy shop, which is named TomsWillowCraft.
Tom; thanks for this very interesting information. I use a diamond willow walking stick and receive many comments and questions which I have been unable to answer until now. Although I’m 88 I am planning looking for some sticks if my legs will carry me there. I can’t wait to try your ideas.
Chuck! Thanks for the note! I hope your willow hunt goes well. I’m glad my site was helpful.
Hello from Tampa! I have 4 sticks that I’m working on at the same time. I have gotten them all through the 2nd stage of sanding and ready for the final rub down. Question: I’ve researched the different stages of finishing, but I’m puzzled about something – after the final stage, the fine sand paper, do I then wash/wipe them down, let them dry, spray varnish one coat, let it dry – and then use a steel wool pad?? If so, why? And if I have to do that, do I do it again after the 2nd and 3rd coats are applied? Thanks.
Sharon in Humid Tampa 🙂
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I apologize that I haven’t stayed on top of the comments on this site. There are so many spam comments that it’s hard to find the real ones! I hope your stick making is going well. I would imagine that by now you are done with them. After I fine sand (220 grit), I blow them clean with an air compressor. Wiping with a rag would probably do just as well. Then oil or varnish. The first coat usually requires a 320 grit sanding because small slivers of wood tend to stand up from the varnish. I sand again as needed. You can feel if it needs sanding just by running your fingers over the stick. Usually there are spots here and there that need to be touched up. I hope that helps!
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I live in central Indiana. Every park lake that I go to I hunt for Diamond Willows. Now that I am a leg amputee I have trouble looking for them. Do you know the best place around Central Indiana. I live just south o f Indianapolis
My apologies for missing your message and not replying! I’m afraid I don’t know of places in Indiana. You could look at the range map for diamond willow found on my site and start searching! Look in low-lying areas. Roadside ditches or trails in the woods are great!
I have a question for you that I’ve not been able to find the answer to and hope you may be able to answer the question for me. Does the diamond willow (diamonds) form only on the Salix Beddiana species or variety of willow, or do the diamonds also form on other varieties also? I live in southwest Michigan, (Kalamazoo area) and I’m guessing I’d be able to find diamond willows in my area. I have enough wet lands here
I thank you for any help you may have.
Where the heck are ya Tom? I found this site and noticed not much dialogue past Feb. 2021. Checking on you as we’ve lost many friends over the last few years. I’m in North Pole,AK and have an underdeveloped gift of willow craft. Im thinking it’s more important than ever to reach out to like minded crafters. I peeled my first piece 15 yrs ago and have given anything worth mentioning away to blessed recipients lol. I was gifted some fine woodworking tools and sadly, they were taken. I’ve only just been able to replenish, little at a time,to hopefully have what I need come the day I have time to widdle. Anywho…hope your supply of sandpaper hasn’t run out 😊
My bad! I haven’t been checking posts on this site! I’m alive and well. I hope you are enjoying your willow!
The rewards of persistence, for sure. Diamond willow isn’t as plentiful here in Calgary Canada as it sounds like it is where you are. I have to put on some fairly serious miles before I get a few good stocks, which I use to make unique picture frames, mostly.
I’m fortunate to live in a willow-rich area. However, I find that I’m having to drive further to find willow as time goes on. But it’s still plentiful.