A lot of old Industrial Revolution-era art and cartoon dudes have one thing in common: They look cooler than you could ever hope to be. What’s their secret? Why are these guys with big cravats and bigger mustaches so much more pimpin’ than you?
My answer: It’s the cane. Oh, and the ladies.
We shall start with an old, broken umbrella. Pick one with a solid wooden stick and handle you like. The look and condition of the fabric and spokes doesn’t really matter, because you’ll be destroying them anyway. The wood can be a little banged up as well, but make sure it’s really strong. Open and close it a few times to see how the parts work, and then leave it open for the start of the project.
Using a box cutter, knife, or safety scissors, cut the threads holding the spokes to the fabric. Be careful during this step, as you can injure yourself with both the blades and the umbrella. Unless you think you’ll use it later, rip the fabric around the endcaps of the spokes, and remove said endcaps. Do the same to the cap at the top of the umbrella, if there is one. Now you’ll have the stick and the umbrella skeleton.
Notice that the spokes are held to be umbrella stick by moving rings and a crown at the top. Embedded in the wood are small metal springs and pegs to keep the rings in place. Using pliers and patience, yank these out. Set aside any that look cool, you may want them. The spokes are held on with wire in my case, which you can once again attack with pliers. The rings on my umbrella were cheap and plastic, so after I got rid of the spokes I just cut them off.
After thoroughly destroying your brolly, you should basically have a stick with a pretty handle. Sand it, both to make it look worn and reduce jagged or unattractive bits. If you want, you can stain and seal it now. Check out your leftover pieces, and see if you want to remake them as cane decorations. I used plumbing bits and a wonky spring from an old toy. Right below the handle and at the bottom are good places for shiny things.
Have fun with it!