David Broadbent, Stickmaker on the Isle of Harris

Photograph courtesy of Cameron Davidson • Camerondavidson.com

I have been stick dressing since the mid-seventies, after buying a stick as a present from a local crofter I had the thought "why can't I try doing this for a hobby", now over 30 years later I find myself still enjoying my hobby very much.

My first competiton was at The Royal Highland Show in 1986 where I competed against some of the best stick dressers, names like Robbie Little, Gordon Flintoff, Jimmy Wilson these are just a few, sadly some of the best I knew are no longer with us. I was so pleased to win a second and a fourth prize against these good stick makers. I then competed at various shows throughout Scotland and the North of England. In 1993 I moved back to the Isle of Harris and found it more difficult to compete at the shows due to work and living on the Island, however in 2011, I was able to start competing again at the same level and won five trophies. I enjoyed seeing again the other stick makers plus meeting new ones. I had three sticks that qualified for entry into the Scottish Champion of Champions at the Yetholm Show 2011.

I enjoyed 2011 and 2012 very much and had the pleasure of making sticks for HRH The Duke and Duchess of Rothesay on behalf of our local community centre and also meeting and talking to HRH The Prince of Wales at the Great Yorkshire Show, of which he is patron. I also had the pleasure of meeting and talking to HRH The Princess Royal at the International Sheep Dog Trials at Fearn in Ross-shire, where I was demonstrating the art of stick making.


Living on the Isle of Harris gives me access to some good quality Rams horn. I also use Highland cow horn and Buffalo horn, with the cow horn being the most difficult to form into shape, there is always a challenge in working with natural material like horn. I also carve in wood: elm burr, oak burr, plum, laburnum, spalted beech etc. The shanks are mostly hazel but occasionally I use apple, blackthorn, cherry, chestnut and ash.

I hope to be able to carry on showing and demonstrating whenever I can this year. I am a Life Member of The Scottish Crookmakers and the Border Stick Dressers Association. I have taught my grandaughter to make a stick over the last couple of years whilst coming to the Island on holiday and she competed in the novice section at Royal Highland, Great Yorkshire, Black Isle and Keith shows where she won first at novice level. At the moment I am helping a young local lad who is very keen to learn the art of stickmaking. It is important that we as stick makers pass on our skills to the young people who show interest in this art.

I hope you enjoy looking at my sticks and if you want to find out more information please contact me via phone or email.

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