Personaly I use weapons in the manner they were intended to be used, not the modern forms of practice styles but in combat. You can purchase a nice set of escrima sticks made of rattan for around twenty dollars US, and they are perfect for practice due to thier light wieght and flexability. But if you use your sticks on hard targets with lethal force behind your hits they do not last very long.
I have tried many styles of escrima sticks ranging in price from 15.00 to 150.00 and have been pleased with a few and dissapointed by many. I decided to make my own set that would hold up to the kind of training I use them for.
They had to meet a few simple self imposed guide lines.
1- they had to be inexpensive 2- they had to be made of readily available materials 3- they had to hold up to the stress of continual strikes against medium to hard targets.
First let me say that hardwood dowels DO NOT WORK these are too brittle to consider for use as true hard use escrima sticks. That being said oak dowls work wonderfully. I always chose dowels with the straitest tightest grain I can find, there are dowels with beautifull grain that would make nice decarations but they will split too easily when used hard.
You can purchase oak dowels from Home Depot or your local hardware store for around three to five dollars a piece. They can be cut to any length you desire, are readily available, cheap to buy and with a few modifications make great escrima sticks. My first order of buisness is always the staining of the wood. once this is done I tightly wrap some spyder wire, available at any fishing section, around the stick about 1.5" from both ends and every 4-6" in the middle. I use a minimum of 30lbs test and heavier if its available at least ten full wraps around the stick at each location as tightly as possible. Then tie off the line and melt the end flat. This serves many purposes but aside from the final product looking like a traditional escrima it also adds strength to the stick and stops the stick from shattering should a crack occure.
The next thing is to seal the wire to the stick and add additional strength and support. You can use clear spray to do this. I will simply spray the areas with wrapping heavily while rotating the stick. It takes several coats to seal the area and if done correctly will be nicely sloping from the highest point on the spyder wire down to the bare wood and no depressions will be evident in the string. at this point the stick will need time to cure. I will leave mine in a safe place for at least two days befor I continue any farther.
Check your sticks after 48 hours and check with your finger nail to see if it will leave a dent in the areas you have sprayed if so leave them for at least one more day than repeat process. Once they are cured I prefer to make a somewhat shock absorbant handle on mine because of the way I use them, if this is not an issue for you than you can skip down through this section. I will usualy use a cloth like an old pair of BDUs or cammo material torn in maximum 1/2" wide strip as long as I can get. I start by sraying a little clear spray on the handle area and then I wait until it is tacky. Then when the handle is sufficiently sticky I begin to wrap the handle. once completed I spray the entire stick with a minnimum of four coats of clear spray and let cure for at least one week before use.
These will last quite a long time even under very heavy stresses. They will not be pretty even after your first use they will show scars from battle but they will be sturdy. I can cut down a large dry sage brush in seconds with these sticks. faster than I can with a knife. They are leathal weapons so please exorcise extreme caution when using these. It takes very little force with these sticks to break bones, damage soft tissue and even kill someone. But that is the purpose of these weopons, they are not toys they are used for hurting maiming and killing people.
So end of story have fun, be safe, practice like you would use it.