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"The [Inay(an)] System (of Eskrima) is Complete" ~ Mangisursuro Inay 1944-2000

Stick Soaking Part II

The other day I described my first attempt at soaking a batch of rattan sticks. This effort, while ultimately successful, was frightfully flawed. The flaws came from a combination of lack of experience and my own lack of common sense. A week passed from when I first immersed these sticks and the time had come to remove them for drying, add another batch, and see if I had learned anything.

I hesitate to say that what follows is the “right” way. It is, for lack of better terminology, “considerably less wrong.”
Rattan sticks, approximately 28 inches in length
Large diameter PVC tube, at least four inches in diameter
Watertight end cap
Boiled linseed oil
Steel wool
Duct tape
Paint roller tray
Paint bucket screen
Long nosed pliers
Loading the sticks for soaking
Cut your large PVC tube down to a length of at least 30 inches. I am assuming, of course, that you are going to be soaking sticks approximately 28 inches. If your tube is long enough you should be able to get two equally long pieces from the cut, the second of which will be used for the drying process.
Seal one end with the watertight end cap. I can not stress enough how important a watertight seal is.
Bring the tube, sticks, oil, steel wool, and duct tape to your work area. 
Tear off at least one length of duct tape approximately eight inches in length. This is best done now before your hands ever come in contact with the boiled linseed oil.
Place the tube where you plan to leave it for the duration of the soak, preferably leaning against a sturdy object so that you are certain that it will not fall from moderate contact. The less you have to move the tube after you are done the better.
Place the sticks inside of the tube. Make sure they have some room to move around, if you have to use force to make the sticks fit then you have too many sticks.
Place the steel wool on top of the sticks so that the sticks would not be able to pass the steel wool and extend beyond the end of the tube. Once the tube is full of oil the sticks will, of course, want to float. The steel wool is there to hold the sticks down while still allowing the oil to reach that end of the stick.
Lay the duct tape across the top of the tube so that the steel wool is held down and that there is enough room to pour in the oil. Leaving the gap also allows for the oil to breathe and considering that boiled linseed oil is exothermic, that is a good thing.
Slowly pour the boiled linseed oil until it comes near the top of the tube. If you have done this correctly the duct tape will hold down the steel wool which will hold down the sticks. Keep the oil can, even if you pour all of the oil into the tube. Once you are done soaking sticks you will want to reclaim this oil for later use.
Let the sticks soak for approximately one week.
If this is done correctly you should have no spill-over of oil and therefore no mess.
Removing the sticks for drying
One week has passed. You are now a little older, a little wiser, and possibly in need of a shave.
Bring the paint roller tray, paint bucket screen, and second PVC tube to your work area.
Place the paint roller tray on the ground near the soaking sticks. This will be the reservoir that collects the oil that will drip off the sticks as they dry.
Place the paint bucket screen in the tray. This will keep the sticks out of the accumulating oil in the reservoir.
Place the tube on top of the screen and lean it against a sturdy object so that you are certain that it will not fall from moderate contact. It is best to have this all set up near the tube of soaking sticks to minimize the mess while transferring the sticks from the oil into the drying tube.
Peel the duct tape off of the tube of soaking sticks. The steel wool may stay stuck to the tape which is not terrible, just be aware of any oil that will leak out of the steel wool. Try to preserve the tape and steel wool, especially if you are planning to immediately load a new set of sticks into the oil.
The sticks should bob up slightly above the surface.
Use the long nosed pliers to grab a stick and pull it out of the oil. Hold the stick above the tube and let the excess oil run off of the stick and back into the tube of soaking sticks. There is no need to take this oil with you to the drying tube.
Once the stick has stopped draining heavily (it is fine if it is still dripping slightly) move the stick to the drying tube and place it inside. Any further oil in the stick will drain out into the paint roller tray. Aside from reducing the mess from this process the oil can be reused later.
Repeat the process with all remaining sticks. If you are planning to start soaking a new batch of sticks refer to the instructions for soaking sticks. If you are not planning to start a new batch of sticks then pour the oil back into the original can. A funnel may help you with this process.
Let the sticks dry for at least one week.



On Stick Soaking

 Another great read! Stick soaking has always been a love-hate relationship for me. I love to do it, but it is a messy job. 
If you're ever finding that the sticks aren't soaking properly go for the long haul. I used to soak them for 4 to 6 months and flip the soaking tubes over every 10-14 days. If you ever want to try this keep the soaking tubes in a 5-gallon bucket or full-sized plastic garbage bin. I found that with changes in barometric pressure that even sealed caps will pop off at times. If you soak for this long give it a few more days for drying.
Back in the day Sursuro Jena taught me to seal the ends with melted candle wax (after the sticks were dried). I added to this by sticking the ends in dry sand or dirt before applying the wax. Just make sure and remove any excess dirt.
Keep it up! I'd like to hear about any discoveries you make in the process.
All the best,
Guro Josh