We get an overwhelming amount of e-mail from adults and kids that have found an old wooden stick with a severely damaged or rotting pockets at a yard sale or on EBay and want to make it work. The truth is that publishing stories that turn everyone on to the EBay auctions has never made anything on the auction site cheaper. We are regular buyers on EBay, but the public need to know has outweighed our selfish need for cheap wood.


String-O-Meter rating:
Intermediate level - It's pretty easy!



Stuff needed:

  • An old wooden box stick (the thinner sticks - about 6-7 inches wide)
  • Sand Paper or Sand paper sponges
  • Stain or wood seal
  • 1 very long hard mesh - at the store you'll notice they come 16 to 17 1/4 inches long. Get the long ones unless your head is especially small.


  • 1 36 inch sidewall string.
  • 2 shooting strings - whatever your preference.
  • 2 typical sidewall strings (maybe 24 inches).
  • 2 Longer sidewall or string nylon pieces (30 inches)
  • 2 Leathers or 2 similar lengths of thick nylon cord.
  • 1 12 inch leather lace or nylon cord.
  • Step 1: Evaluate the old stick.

    We have many sticks that just needed to be restored a bit but the strings were in fine shape. But, if the pocket is screwed, then you have to decide if the rawhide sidewall is too. Many of them are deformed and bent out of shape, but some survive the years and are as straight and as tough as ever. You'll find out how tough if you decide that the whole pocket is totaled and needs to be cut out.



    Step 2: Cut away the garbage.

    The rawhide will take a sharp scissors and some real effort to cut away and it wont bend easily to get through the holes so you'll have to cut a lot. Just be sure to cut away from the wood and don't use the wood as a lever while cutting or you could damage it.



    So just remove everything if that's what you decide. Remove any tape at the base or down the stick. Sometimes there will be dried hardened tape up around the head as well. We've even seen it so hard and stuck to the stick that a knife was needed to cut it away.






    Step 3: Sand the stick

    Sand the stick with a sandpaper sponge found at any hardware store for 3 to 6 bucks. Sandpaper will work too but the sponges make it MUCH easier on the curves and they clean up quick in water and can be used over and over. Buy at least two as you need a rough grade and a smoother grade. Use the rough one to strip the stick of the grime and scars from years of play or storage and the first layer of wood that is coated with whatever finish was originally used. If the stick has a makers mark or even a signature, you may want to leave that area alone or just sand around it as best you can.




    We avoided sanding this logo on an old Bacharach women's stick.

    If the stick has any big blemishes you can sand them out as long as it doesn't mess with the structure of the head. If you like, at this point you can sand the handle down to a perfect fit, as some of the old ones are pretty fat. Use the finer sandpaper or sponge to go over the whole stick again, always going the same way for a smooth texture. During the process, wipe the stick with a slightly damp paper towel if sawdust debris builds up. Do this once, very well, after sanding to get rid of any dust before moving to the next step.





    Step 4: Staining or Treatment

    You can stain or finish the wood or just treat it with a sealant. There are many available at the hardware store. You can even go with a color like red or green. We chose a brown finish and sealant for this old stick. Always use the instructions for the stain or treatment. The more coats you do the darker the stick will become if you use a stain. Once you are done let it dry for a few hours or whatever the product instructions say.





    Step 5: Creating a new sidewall

    The stick needs a new sidewall because we threw away the curled rawhide that came with it. We can use two leathers (best) or pieces of thick nylon cord and the 36 inch piece of sidewall nylon for this. Tie the leathers or nylon cord between the tip of the head and the base, one on each side, so that they are taught and parallel to each other. Then, using the interlocking sidewall method string the 36 inch nylon all the way down the head between the other two as shown. Keep it kind of tight. When you tie stuff off just use the holes available. Later on you can adjust and tie off to other parts of the pocket to make room for other strings that might need the holes. Sometimes two strings will fit through a hole, but not often.





    Step 6: Installing Sidewall Strings

    Using the interlocking sidewall method, install a sidewall string on the wood side as shown below. The harder part, but still pretty easy, is installing the same type of support string on the sidewall you built out of string.




    Step 7: Installing the Hard Mesh

    Traditional stringing can be used on this head and is, of course the original stringing on all wooden heads, but we found that a hard mesh is an awesome pocket on wood, looks modern while still retro, and is MUCH easier to install and maintain.


    Install the mesh on the wooden top and wooden sidewall just as you would on a modern plastic stick except leave as little extra as you can on the top. You'll likely need all the mesh length you can get at the bottom. The pictures will help a bit with differences between the two types of heads. String the mesh all the way down the head. Be smart. Always use the interlocking sidewall method.


    A little guesswork is needed when starting the other side of the mesh installation. When stringing to the interlocking sidewall support you built in step 6, just be sure that the diamonds in the mesh are in a line as parallel to the ground as possible. Even though we have started with a head that is asymmetrical, we strive for perfect symmetry in every pocket, so always keep this in mind. After stringing a few loops, check and adjust if needed before stringing the whole thing.


    Tie both of the sidewalls as tight as you can. You won't likely need to loosen these to build a pocket. In fact, as you pound the pocket later you will want to keep tightening the sidewalls as you experience possible bunching at the obvious loose spots.

    The second sidewall string will be long enough to also tie off the bottom of the hard mesh. Just tie it off on the sidewall at the bottom and then weave it through the hard mesh across the bottom row of diamonds. Find a place to tie it off. Pull the mesh tight, as shown, by pulling the string and securing it. You can adjust tightness later if needed.






    Step 8: Putting in Shooting Strings

    Use nylon, leather or laces to weave in your shooting strings and tie them off to whatever you like. We used the thinner nylon and a leather boot lace and tied off to only the mesh and sidewall strings. Some box players tie off to the wood. Your choice! We found that two worked better than three on wood, but that's also up to you.





    Step 8: Pounding the pocket

    Just pound the pocket like you would a hard mesh. We pound them each time we use them for a few minutes beforehand and they work great. These two throw as well as any plastic head we have. They are still a bit heavier but lots of fun to throw and shoot with.






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    String-O-Meter

    Each pocket design found in the Stick Tech Workshop will be assigned a String-O-Meter rating. This is just a relative measure of how difficult it is to string the sticks.

    EASY - This refers mainly to mesh pockets and those for the novice and first time stringer.
    MEDIUM - This refers to sticks such as the six and eight diamond stringing. The designs aren't too tough, but require some concentration and time.
    DIFFICULT - This refers to sticks like THE "Dog Track". These sticks are usually variations from the basic traditional pocket.
    ADVANCED - This refers to sticks that take more time and careful attention to string properly. Overall stringing capability and ability to tie more complicated knots are usually needed to string a pocket reading 4 on the String-O-Meter.