About My Third Leg

People often ask me how I ever came up with the idea of a leg bone cane? How long does it take to make a cane?Where do I make them? How are the canes made?

The great philosopher, Plato said, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” I needed a cane but like many people, I refused to use one because I was too young and thought a cane would make me appear weak. My hip was hurting to the point that I was forced to give in to the idea of using a cane. Of all the canes I looked at, none suited me. I toyed with the idea of designing and making my own. I wanted something unique. As I was doing research as to what constitutes “good cane design” I came across an article written by Melanie Diez, Canes Analysis and Recommendations for Improvement.  While researching hip replacement procedures, I saw a diagram of a complete leg bone. I wondered if I could make a cane patterned after a human leg. It was her research paper that helped me design my leg bone cane. After multiple attempts and many revisions, I had a pattern that I traced onto a piece of wood and began carving. I was very pleased and proud of my results..

The first day I used it in public I learned that the leg bone design drew lot of attention from people who saw it. As people passed by, they would smile and comment, “I see you have your 3rd leg with you”. One lady who was a medical model maker and engineer was so fascinated with the cane she offered to help me obtain a patent. Once I had the patent, I put my cane on an eBay auction website. It sold for $347.00. The rest is history, The public made me go into business and I became so busy I couldn’t keep up with hand carved canes. My solution was to have a mold made so I could make them from space age plactic. The canes are now made from glass filled polycarbonate. FACT: Polycarbonate is about 200 times stronger than steel and it will flex and return to its original shape, while metal can dent on impact.

Plastic pellets are put in to a machine that is about forty feet long. The pellets are heated to make them soft. The measured material is then shot into the mold and blasted with pressurized nitrogen gas. The gas pushes the molten plastic against the walls of the mold, forming a hollow cane that is about 3/16” thick. When it cools it is removed from the mold. Each cane must be further processed to remove any tool marks and the parting line cause by the two mold halves. The cane must be sanded smooth and sprayed with a finish of some type. Addition processing is required for dipped canes, hand painted canes, canes that require medallions, crocks, etc.

The high production mold is capable of making thousands of canes at a rate of one every fifteen seconds. Each cane must remain in the mold for an additional forty-five seconds to cool enough that it can be handled without bending. My mold is located in a plastics factory near Erie Pennsylvania. When I need more canes I call and request a minimum of fifteen hundred canes and I receive them within about three weeks. The hand carved canes take approximately twenty hours to carve and finish.